16 December 2013
This article is a review of ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES.
“I just have to say this is super creepy and unorthodox,” Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) to Mack Harken (Harrison Ford)
Is not THE LEGEND CONTINUES actually the third instalment of the adventures of our favourite hapless anchorman? Anyone who has caught the “rich mahogany” edition of the Blu-ray knows there exists spin-off/sequel WAKE UP, RON BURGUNDY: THE LOST MOVIE. It’s the same length as the original, at just over 90 minutes, and concerns a gang of bank robbers terrorising San Diego. It’s a project made up of cobbled together unused elements, and just about works. Now with the latest, long awaited next part, storytelling parallels can be contemplated. Comparisons to THE HANGOVER franchise are not out of place. There is a formula, but due to the surreal nature of Ron and pals, the elements don’t outstay their welcome like the antics of the Wolf Pack. Burgundy’s continual fall from public grace is one of the regular highlights.
WBC News head anchor Mack Harken calls Burgundy and co-anchor, and now spouse, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), to his office. Harken is due to step down and is looking for his replacement; so promotes Corningstone and fires Burgundy. A montage of Ron’s incompetence is of course a joy for fans. The blow to Burgundy’s pride sunders his matrimonial relationship, and hits rock bottom, working inebriated as a Sea World host, “I would eat dolphins if it was legal.” Heckled off stage, he tries to kill himself. Even darker, he messes it up. While on the floor in a heap of plaster and light fittings, an executive walks in to offer him a job. There is the unheard of idea of a 24-hour news channel being mooted, and he is being sought to anchor a segment. Acceptance is the start of a new set of exploits.
On the cusp of the 1980s, the satire moves away from sexism in the workplace, and opts for a two-pronged look at race relations and corporate media ownership. The first is equally excruciatingly funny as Ron butting heads previously with Veronica. A dinner at his new African American boss’s home is guiltily, unashamedly awkwardly, tasteless. The second is no IN THE LOOP coruscating analysis, rather having an Australian tycoon as the channel’s owner chanting synergy is as unsubtle as you’d expect. A monologue delivered by Burgundy is akin to Aladeen’s (Sacha Baron Cohen) in THE DICTATOR – biting, but too little too late. But at least a political swipe is being attempted in a mainstream Hollywood comedy, a subgenre usually bereft of smarts. THE OTHER GUYS (another team up between Ferrell and director Adam McKay) also targeted corporate malfeasance.
ANCHORMAN acolytes, rest easy, everyone is back, even down to Baxter his wise dog, Ed Harken (Fred Willard), and a jazz flute rendition. Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and Champ Kind (David Koechner) continue to facilitate the barrage of insults aimed at the unintelligent and incompetent; taken to a new level as reportage is dumbed down in a ratings drive. THE LEGEND CONTINUES feels bigger in scope. The climactic set-piece is gleeful. Carell’s star status is acknowledged by giving him a romantic subplot, one of the high water marks, with the equally clueless and oddly monikered, Chani Lastnamé (Kristen Wiig). The gag rate is enough, and plays to the fanbase. There’s no scrimping on scraping the barrel of humour: Cocksman Brian Fontana says he misses going on the pull in Los Angeles with O.J. Simpson and Phil Spector, who call themselves the “lady killers”. Then there are the ticker tape japes scrolling under the news, including the likes of: Surfer bitten by shark, is a war between sharks and humans imminent? - something extra to offer the audience once inevitable multiple viewings are under way on its home entertainment release.