Thursday, December 19, 2013
Throughout the first "Anchorman" (opening December 18 throughout San Diego), homegrown hero Ron Burgundy kept reminding us to "stay classy, San Diego."
Maybe he should have taken his own advice.
Director Adam McKay and producer Judd Apatow are known for crude humor and letting Will Ferrell and their actors improvise wildly on camera like in "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," "Step Brothers" and "The Other Guys." It serves them well occasionally in "Anchorman 2," but a lot of the jokes fall flat.
Clocking in a little less than two hours, it makes you wonder what the first cut of "Anchorman 2" -- at nearly three hours -- would have been like.
Unlike the original, the majority of "Anchorman 2" takes place mostly in New York and not San Diego. America's finest city does makes a cameo though after Burgundy is fired from his job in New York and his wife Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) is offered the evening anchor job he wanted. It's too much so Burgundy abandons Veronica and their son, Walter (a fine Judah Nelson) and slinks back to the whale's vagina and into a bottle. He eventually winds up taking a lame gig introducing dolphins at Sea World, but he's fired from that too and tries to kill himself. Hilarious, right? Lucky for Burgundy, seconds after his failed suicide attempt, TV producer Freddie Shapp (Dylan Baker) asks him to join a fledgling 24-hour news station back in the Big Apple — and Ron hits the road to re-assemble the news team.
The gang's all back in this uneven comedy: field reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), sportscaster Champ Kind (David Koechner) and weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carrell). The only original cast member to not reprise their role was Peanut, who played "Baxter" the dog. Nine years is way too long for most canine actors to appear in sequels and now Baxter — the most wise, sane and prudent character in both films — is played by Quince.
New additions to the "Anchorman" world are Meagan Good as Ron's new (black) female boss; James Marsden as Ron's new newsroom nemesis, Greg Kinnear as Veronica's New Age boyfriend, and Kristen Wiig as Brick's love-interest.
Carrell shines again as the dim-witted Tamland, but too often he ends up just screaming at the top of his lungs at actors who don't seem to be in on the joke.
Between all of Burgundy's 80s costume changes and outrageous exclamations ("By the bedpan of Gene Rayburn!" and "By the hymen of Olivia Newton-John!"), there's a thin story about how terrible TV news is since going 24-hours-a-day and how corporations shouldn't own news companies. But at its heart, "Anchorman 2" is the same as the first one — it's a love story and a buddy story.
And -- SPOILER ALERT -- yes, Ron and Veronica get back together and yes, there is a big brawl between rival news teams that escalates quickly, but no, "Anchorman 2" isn't as good as the original and no, you can never go to the whale's vagina again.
"Anchorman 2" is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, drug use, language and comic violence.
Companion viewing: "Anchorman," "Broadcast News," "The Front Page"