"Anchorman 2" is kind of a big deal.
Let me just get that out of the way.
Will Ferrell's return to theaters lives up to everything you want in a sequel and more — it's funny, is chock full of celebrity cameos, and there's an actual meaningful story.
Oh, and yes, there's a news fight and it's bigger and maybe better than the first one.
Forget all the Ron Burgundy over-saturation of late — this movie should be huge at theaters.
We saw a screening of "Anchorman 2: The Legend Returns" Monday evening (not this one with cast members, unfortunately!), and loved it.
Are some going to think it's really silly? Yes. There are some over-the-top scenes that made us roll our eyes *HUGE spoiler*Burgundy loses his sight in what feels like a "Family Guy" gag*spoiler* but that's expected.
The sequel starts us off seven years after the first film. Burgundy (Ferrell), married to Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), has just lost his job as a prestigious anchor after his wife accepts a promotion. After getting hired by a new 24-hour news channel, Ron gathers his old news team back together to head to New York City to conquer the world of broadcast journalism again.
What's so great about the sequel? There are three main reasons to love it.
[Some spoilers do follow!]
1. First and foremost: It's Hilarious
Through the first 45 minutes, Ferrell and his news team had the entire audience — and myself — laughing hysterically. I myself was in tears at some points (always a good sign).
Though there may not be many memorable one liners — Applegate delivers a great kicker near the end — we were happy with a lot of original material.
Items revealed in trailers didn't receive laughs on screen from oversaturation, but there weren't many of those moments at all. Many jokes seen in trailers didn't make it into the final cut.
Unlike other comedy sequels of recent (we're looking at you "Hangover"), "Anchorman 2" doesn't try to rehash and reuse old gags ... much. Where they are (you'll see the familiar jazz flute, news team celebration jump, and Brian Fontana's cologne cabinet gets swapped for a condom shrine) they're updated enough so they don't feel like carbon copies of what worked the first time around. Instead, the familiar territory feels welcome.
Though there are many new additions in the sequel (Kristen Wiig, James Marsden, Josh Lawson, and Meagan Good), the film never feels too crowded.
2. More important: The sequel provides unexpected commentary on the state of broadcast journalism.
Who imagined you would get a rousing message about the political correctness of the news from Ron Burgundy?
After the first hour or so of laughs, you finally see what the film's really about — a media message wrapped inside a comedy.
Underneath the jokes, "Anchorman 2" tells the story of how news coverage has gone from being story-centric to ratings-focused with the introduction of the 24-hour news cycle.
Burgundy works for fictional GNN (Global News Network) — a CNN stand-in — during its first year on air.
In order to compete with other networks and gain eyeballs, Burgundy introduces the idea of reporting "soft, sensational" news like cute animals and live car chases— clear mockery of items used to attract viewers today in both broadcast and online media for views and clicks.
At one point in the film both Burgundy and Corningstone agree there is no real news being reported and that it's all about ratings.
Maybe this is what the heavy push in the film's marketing campaign was partly all about — a cleverly hidden message about the media hidden in the media itself (or maybe that would be too clever).
Either way, kind of makes you want to open a window, stick your head out and yell ... or simply ponder about.
3. The news battle brawl to end all brawls
Of course there's a news fight and it's bigger than ever.
I won't spoil this tremendous part of the movie here, but the amount of celebrity cameos is amazing. Yes, many of them leaked online ahead of the film's release — but not all of them.
Every time a new face and voice was revealed, there were wild cheers in our theater. Fans will be very happy.
Worst of the movie:
There are two poor parts in this film that thankfully pass fairly quick.
There's a terrible sub-plot involving Burgundy becoming blind. It's good for a few laughs but gets old quick. It then leads to an even more ridiculous subplot about Burgundy’s family raising a baby shark. (It’s very “Free Willy”-esque.)
We really tried to go with it, but because it ties up pretty quickly, it felt more like a skit taken straight out of an episode of "Family Guy" called Blind Ambition (without Ferrell eating a bunch of nickels) where Peter temporarily loses his sight.
If the film was split into quarters, this third leg of the film would be the worst. It's so different from the rest that it feels kind of inserted into the film just to serve as a segue to get from points A to B.
Other than that, there's a slightly uncomfortable scene where Burgundy meets an African American co-worker's (Meagan Good) family members.
The scene didn't come as a surprise as it was heavily teased in trailers and I was glad that after two scenes, this was where the racial remarks ended. From all the promos, I was partially concerned Good's skin color would become a bigger gag in the film and I'm glad to see it didn't.
There's a short after-credits scene.
You may feel like a bit of a fool for waiting around for this anti-climatic moment, but for Easter egg lovers, yes, there is something after the initial credits end.
Again, this isn't Marvel material, so don't expect hints for a sequel or anything like that.
Best lines of the film
As I said, not too many one-liners I noticed that will probably become fan favorites, but here are a few I rounded up (that I can write here):
"Who the hell is Julius Caesar? You know I don't follow the NBA."
"By the bedpan of Gene Rayburn."
"Happy St. Patrick's Day to all our Native American friends."
Champ Kind (David Koechner):
"Do you know what they call bats? Chicken of the cave."
Brian Fontana (Paul Rudd) mentions being pals with O.J. Simpson, Phil Spector, and Robert Blake. "We call ourselves the Ladykillers."
Brick Tamland (Carell):
Speaking about his shadow: "A black man follows me everywhere I go when it's sunny."
This one's not spoken: "I like toasters. I also like mitten because they're easy to put on."
Veronica Corningstone (Applegate) probably had the best line that I heard people repeat upon leaving the theater:
"This white thunder rolls deep."
Now, test your "Anchorman" knowledge: See what you don't know about the first film