Mister Cinecal

Mister Cinecal

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Anchorman 2: Uh-huh. Yep.

I'm going to make this nice and quick because I have other things to do today and this headache won't resent itself. I'm sure you are aware of this what with the disturbingly ubiquitous advertising campaign but there's a new Anchorman movie out. Seriously Will Ferrell is in car ads. Club Orange ads. He's on Sky Sports News. You open up your dishwasher, there he is, telling you to stay classy. Kim Jong-un wishes he had this level of omnipresence. Comedy sequels often struggle to be anything other than retreads and while there some repetition to be found in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, there are enough fresh jokes to keep fans happy.

That's partly helped by the 9 year gap since the last film. It would have been easy to fire off a quick cash-grab the year after the first one succeeded (HANGOVER) but it's clear that everyone involved is happy, energised and willing to work. Or as willing to work as anyone can be in a Ferrell/McKay film. It seems unlikely that late-night writing sessions are their style. To go into the plot would be a waste of time. Even more so than the last one it doesn't really have a plot, rather its a series of comedic set pieces fired off one after the other and naturally some work better than others. Ron Burgundy developing a special bond with a sea creature works exceptionally, the attempts at critiquing the ethics of modern-day hysterical 24 hour news less so. It feels half-hearted and not particularly suited to these comedians. Satire usually comes from a place of earnestness, even anger, it doesn't really jive with the loose improv style.

I'm not going to say I didn't find the movie funny but it does have plenty of problems. First and foremost, at 119 minutes it is much too long. Comedies generally should clock in somewhere around the 90 minute mark before they overstay their welcome and for a heavily improvised movie like this with no real plot to go after two hours is really excessive. Less is more is clearly not an approach taken in modern American comedy movies but it really is just true. Take Steve Carrell's Brick character for example, a little bit of random lines and shouting is fine but they've really ramped up the characters screen-time this time around, to his detriment. Kristen Wiig gets some good lines as his love interest but the sub-plot was not really neccessary and plenty of it could have been cut without losing much. The long run time bleeds into the other problem which is haphazard editing. Many scenes go on for longer than they should and the film is lacking in structure. The ending in particular, just kind of happens. It feels like they just ran out of jokes in the end. Also, seriously, someone needs to tell these people that a cameo in and of itself is not a joke. You can't just throw Kanye West out there and expect people to start laughing (although perhaps he's a bad example).

Ultimately, I don't see Anchorman 2 converting anyone who didn't care for the first one, but cliche though it may be, fans of the original will be happy. It really is just more of the same. So there you go. Something, something, stay classy, etc.

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