‘I’ ON CULTURE
Anchorman 2 is one of those sequels that should never have been made. This past summer, I predicted After Earth might be the worst movie of the year. Well, this one provides real competition.
Sequels can be good at times. Comedy sequels, though, tend to die. The problem is that if something works, Hollywood repeats itself. A lot of this movie is simply the first one, maybe a bit bigger, but not nearly as funny. I recall an old line saying that telling a good joke is a sign of wit. Repeating it makes you a half wit, and so on. And just as the Hangover movies went downhill after the first, this one pretty much crashes as well.
Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) is a kind of cultural touchstone. The first movie, shot nearly 10 years ago, satirized the over-produced, imbecilic nature of some news people. It was fun; many in the news business actually claimed to know people like Ron and his “classy” team. Of course, The Mary Tyler Moore Show had Ted Baxter years ago, but the first Anchorman movie presented a really crass picture. A funny one, though. There was very little fun in this sequel.
It begins with Ron and his wife Veronica (Christina Applegate) working out of New York as a husband-wife weekend news team in 1980, raising an overly sweet son, Walter (Judah Nelson). Harrison Ford in a cameo is an old newsman who selects Veronica to replace him and fires Ron, who walks away from his wife when she takes the promotion. A few months later, drunken Ron, now working at SeaWorld, is picked to be part of a new idea, a 24-hour-a-day news channel. Far too much time is taken as he recruits the old team: sports guy Champ Kind (David Koechner), who knows nothing about sports and is serving bat at his fried chicken place, investigative reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), doing photos of kittens, and incredibly stupid weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) as, well, supposedly dead.
Although they are ridiculous, they set the whole news business on its ear by ignoring what is really news in order to show what they want. One night, after ego-filled Ron tells his team to go away, he follows a police car chasing down a driver and gets huge ratings. The third best line of the night has his competition being Veronica interviewing Yasser Arafat, and after Veronica yells when her own network shifts to the coverage, “I’ve got Arafat here. Who cares about a car chase?” Arafat admits he wants to watch it.
The movie takes a dismal turn after that. Superstar Ron does a bit more or less copied from the first film where he plays the flute, this time on skates, and his main competition Jack Lime (James Marsden) sabotages him, causing an accident that makes him blind. Veronica and Walter come to help him in a long, unfunny stretch. Then he gets his vision back and winds up choosing to see his son’s recital instead of covering a ridiculous story that combines the best of our current teen superstars with Lorena Bobbitt. This leads to a replay, super-sized with a lot of cameos, of the news team battle from the first movie. Second best line: Kanye West playing the leader of the MTV group sees Harrison Ford change into a werewolf and says, “I gotta tell Michael Jackson about this.” But, still, just a repeat.
At the end, Ron goes out to hug a shark, and his dog, who rescues him, does the best line (in subtitles), “I need to rethink this relationship.” Not funny, but a perfect descriptor of how I feel about the movie. There was far too much copied from the first film and not much at all that was funny. None of the so-called comedians was funny; note that an Arafat lookalike, a cameo Kanye West and the dog had the best lines. Carell and Kristen Wiig had a strange relationship that was supposed to be funny, but no one ever laughed.
Ferrell runs an Internet channel called “Funny or Die.” Based on this film, he just had a massacre. Best bet with this film would be to watch the original movie again and, maybe, wait until it comes on television. Paying more than pennies is a waste of money at a time when there are lots of good films out.