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Sunday, 19 January 2014

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Directed by: Adam McKay

Produced by: Judd Apatow
Will Ferrell
Adam McKay

Screenplay by: Will Ferrell
Adam McKay

Starring: Will Ferrell
Steve Carell
Paul Rudd
David Koechner
Christina Applegate
Meagan Good
James Marsden

Music by: Andrew Feltenstein
John Nau

Cinematography by: Oliver Wood

Editing by: Brent White
Melissa Bretherton

Studio(s): Apatow Productions
Gary Sanchez Productions

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Release date(s): November 24, 2013 (Australia, Sydney premiere)
December 18, 2013 (United Kingdom and United States)

Running time: 119 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Production budget: $50 million

Box-office revenue (as of publication): $163, 871, 000

Aloha, well, as you saw, I did a little post there on the Oscar nominations, and if you didn't I'll be putting a link to it at the bottom of this review. The madness is certainly well into play now, and with The Wolf Of Wall Street having been released there's another major awards contender for me to watch. I have eight movies to watch at home here, but I also plan on seeing 12 Years A Slave, American Hustle, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug and I'd like to watch Gravity again before it gets out of it's second run at The Odeon. While Gravity is my highest rated film on the blog this year, nothing is set in stone as there is one other movie (I'll keep it a surprise) that has been making this more than a clear cut decision. So, for all the latest and greatest (and craziest!) in the movies, keep your eyes posted!

Well I know this isn't exactly latest as it came out about a month ago, but today's film up for review is Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. Just to give you a bit of a background context, I have a bit of a mixed relationship with Will Ferrell as an actor, in that I think he can be very funny when he wants to be but at times subjects himself to the mediocrity of rubbish films, randomly screaming and shouting whilst adorning a new wig or a moustache for every film. For every movie like The Other Guys, we get a Blades Of Glory or Land Of The Lost. Regardless of those mixed opinions, I think that it near general consensus, if I may be so bold to claim as much, that the original Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy is a contemporary comedic classic. It is in many ways the perfect neutral movie that everyone can agree on: there's been many times where I've been at a house party or drinking with a couple of friends and if we decide to stick a movie on, it's (IN UNISON:) "Anchorman." When I was still in school, I held a poll which involved my classmates in selected their five favourite movies so I could pool the results and unveil their all-time greatest movie: none other than Anchorman came out on top. As for myself, I could stick that movie on just about any night of the week and after what must be well into double figures in terms of how many times I've watched it still get a kick out of it. That movie is so wacky, strange and out there in bizarro world, full of detail, brilliant dialogue and featuring note-perfect comedic performances, and while I'd love to gush about, this review is about the sequel: so, years after the events of the first film, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) are married and look to become co-anchors for the nightly news in New York when Mack Tannen (?), Burdundy's idol, announces his retirement. However, Veronica is hired while Ron is dismissed rather vehemently, and kind-of loses it, leaving Veronica and their six-year-old son Walter (Judah Nelson). Six months later, after being fired from Sea World and a failed suicide attempt, Burgundy is offered a slot on GNN (Global News Network) and gets his old news team of Champ Kind (David Koechner), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and Brick Tamland (Steve Carrell) back together. Got it? Good!

(On a side note, this review is brought to you courtesy of the Pulp Fiction soundtrack: even if I think Quentin Tarantino has become cinema's equivalent to The Emperor's New Clothes, I'll never deny that movie's brilliance!)

So, starting with the good on Anchorman 2, they've retained the same bawdy wackiness of the original film. Adam McKay and Will Ferrell waited a good while before they actually I went out and made a sequel to the original film (nearly ten years), and the wait has paid off. From a purely dialogue standpoint and how it operates in the interplay between the various characters, the movie is absolutely outrageous. While it didn't hit me as hard as the original in terms of the onslaught of laughs, there were plenty of hearty guffaws and inadvertent raspberries being blown because I genuinely couldn't believe what I was hearing. There's also something to be said about how good this cast is at their parts, given that they spend much of the movie talking utter rubbish: only Ferrell could manage to make this lewd, misogynistic, borderline racist so damn funny. I mean, there's an entire three-four minute scene in which the central hook is Burbundy braying about how he's blind, and while it is completely stupid and moronic in a way, it's still bloody funny stuff. The same can be said for the rest of the cast: David Koechner's Champ Kind is in many ways the best parody of 'Murica in the movie, Paul Rudd (who really needs a vehicle of his own: he's good enough for it!) is a monumental sleazebag as Brian Fantana, and Steve Carrell's Brick Tamland remains ever the blockhead. Christina Applegate is a welcome returnee and doesn't pull any punches, while Meagan Good proves she can hang with the old guard. There are also a bevy of cameos from folks who I would assume they got in on the cheap due to the popularity of the original. Indeed, there's an homage to the news network fight scene in the original, but this one is set in a park, and although it's essentially a bunch of walk-ons, it's done with such florid fluidity that "in the name of Margaret Thatcher," we're still following it. It's also a movie that looks very good in its overall presentation. Not only is it well-shot, but in terms of the overall mise-en-scene it looks the part. The costumes and the wigs/hair are designed in just the right way, in that they are both appropriate to and yet parodic of the period in which the film is set. Some of the coats for instance look absolutely ridiculous, but it wouldn't have been unlike something you would have seen in a 1980s television show like Miami Vice. Finally, I'm glad that Paramount didn't decide to get another director on this project when they did go ahead with it, because Adam McKay is one of the most consistently entertaining comedic filmmakers of the past ten years. His part in this movie (as writer, producer and director) is as important as that Will Ferrell to its success. He and Ferrell are the partnership that guide this thing through the whole process, and to me doing an Anchorman with Ferrell or McKay would be like doing Laurel & Hardy with only one of them.

Now, I did quite like Anchorman 2, but that's not to say that the movie is by any means flawless, for there are a number of faults to it. Part of the problem I would say stems from the quality of the original film itself, because it was done so well that I don't think Ferrell and McKay really had much of a choice to completely up the ante. The first movie is about an hour and a half, not lagging a single bit, but this one is close to two hours, and I'd be a liar if I said that I didn't think certain scenes dragged out. Also, much as I love Kristen Wiig as one of the funniest comedians currently working, I don't think that the whole romance angle between her character Chani and Brick works. It comes across as a diversionary tactic to give Carrell's character a bit more screen time, and unfortunately it comes across as a digression. Also (and no, I'm not going to attack the music!), I feel that the editing by Brent White and Melissa Brentherton could have been a lot snappier. There are some instances of good editing (the conversations are purposefully chopped to comedic effect), but otherwise I think that they let too much of drag out. The thing about these comedy films that barrage with constant zingers is that they have to be watertight. You take the first Naked Gun movie, which has a frankly extraordinary sense of pacing and timing, and put this up against it: unfortunately, Anchorman 2 feels slow and ponderous at times by comparison not just to it's predecessor, but by the very best of the comedic genre.

Anchorman 2 has problems, in that it is too long and draws out a number of scenes to give a running time beyond necessary parameters. In the film's own terms, that is down to both the script and the editing, but strangely the first film causes issues, in that not only are they forced to up the ante to the nth degree, but also the shadow and reputation that comes with the first Anchorman ensures there is an element of self-mythologisation. However, despite this, I was quite happy with Anchorman 2. The cast are on fine form all round, and while the script has issues, one of them is not the dialogue, which is sharp and acerbic, giving the actors more than their times worth and the plethora of laughs that come with it. It's also a nice overall package in terms of presentation, with it being well-shot, and the mise-en-scene manages to both appropriate and parodic of the film's period setting. Finally, the Adam McKay-Will Ferrell comedic team have their game turned on in a genuinely out there and wacky comedy.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 7.2/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - On 

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