Friday, 20 December 2013

Film Club - Anchorman 2

Anchorman 2 - The Legend Continues

Adam McKay (Anchorman, Step Brothers, The Other Guys)
Adam McKay & Will Ferrell (if you don't know what he's famous for, study hard and fast now!) 

Best moment: The surreal yet epic final showdown in the Park & too many other to count. 

Worst moment: Too little Brick (Carrell) and Chani (Wiig) time!!

On Wednesday the 18th November the legend officially continued in the UK, as Anchorman 2 premiered for the public. 

Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) is back, having initially swapped Classy San Diego for New York city. After loosing out on a significant promotion to wifey Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) and facing a fairly brutal sacking instead (featuring Han Solo... Uhm... I mean Harrison Ford as Mack Harken), Ron is offered a chance to re-unite the old news team (Steve Carrell, Paul Rudd and David Koechner) and anchor at ground-breaking starter-network GNN, 24/7 news. 

Hilarity, inappropriateness, booze, dolphins, bonding with sharks, extreme news, extreme ice skating, sexism, extreme fighting in the city, vending machine dating, racism, most things ending with -ism, bat-eating and quite a few others follow.

Where a lot of comedies these days tend to fall too far in the extreme traps (Two and a half men, The Interns, Bachelorette), giving up on originality and sticking to repeated sex/fart/basic jokes, Ron and the gang get the balance quite right. 

To get vaguely serious for a moment as well, the non-PC jokes somehow work just right, pulled off by characters that get to represent so many (mostly contradictory) stereotypes that instead of adding to the -isms manages to ridicule them into obvious pointlessness. We laugh not to agree with the problem, but because the whole thing turns into a bit of a satire of those who genuinely stand for and believe in such old-fashioned ignorance and prejudice. 

As director Adam McKay puts it, "Ron is just so dumb and clueless that he comes off as innocent"  which results in a mix of hilarity and an opportunity to highlight of some important issues relevant to the -80s (and today). 

This gang of talent includes the some of the top layer of the current comedic epicness cake in the US. They come together perfectly, pushing each other just right and keeping the audience in chuckles throughout. And it isn't just the regulars; the guest-list is quite impressive. 

Kristen Wiig's role against Steve Carrell's 'Brick' is perfection ("This is the nicest vending machine anyone's ever taken me to.")*. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey pop by (!!), Kanye West shows up and... Well while you can stalk up IMDB for the rest it's worth holding off just for the pure enjoyment of discovering some of the surprises in the grand finale. 

Brick: "I can always guess how many jelly beans are in a jelly bean jar, even if I'm wrong."

While there are some slower scenes there is a constant smile on the audience lips. We all knew what we came for, and Ron and the gang delivered. It doesn't feel too long or in any way forced, even though there are chapters I would have liked to see feature more over some other scenes. You can tell the original cut was a 4 hour fun-fest. But the brutal shortening doesn't loose too much and still holds your attention throughout, mixing reality with pushing the boundaries of crazy and randomness without loosing itself too much along the way (This is the End, I'm looking at you!).

Is it better than number one? Well, I will always have a soft spot for the original, but it's certainly not a bad sequel. Thoroughly enjoyable (the entire party was up for many repeat watchings to come), so I'm going to have to say...

Four and 1/2 out of Five Cute Kittens 


*quote off memory, don't judge if not word for word accurate!

As it's been a rocky road for this little gem to reach our theatres, here's a little background... 

The first film was a DreamWorks release, but their catalogue was acquired by Paramount Pictures in 2006. There was a lot of back and forth about a potential Anchorman 2 with talks getting serious back in 2008. At this point Carrell, Rudd and Ferrell all agreed to pay cuts in order to get the movie made, but in 2010 despite all the budget cut options Paramount turned down the plans. 

Fortunately for all of us though Paramount had a change of heart and by 2012 there was a solid green light on the project. Ferrell announced the good news in full Burgundy get up at a talk show. 

Originally the cut was 4.5 hours long, but while the producers were big fans they decided a 2 hr movie was a more realistic offering to the fans. There is also a lot of ad-libbing going on in this film, with the cast taking it to the next level. 

Another fun fact? During the screenings of the film, Seth Rogen attended a few and single handedly ruined the laugh track due to his loud, distinct and hard giggles.

After this rumours, on-set guest star spotting, and general extreme excitement has been surrounding the project with the release this November, nine years after the original. 

What did you guys think, did it live up to the original? What was the best/worst moments?


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