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Mini Review: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)

Anchorman 2 #1

by Steve Habrat

In 2004, funnyman Will Ferrell introduced the world to Ron Burgundy, the inappropriate goofball of a news anchor in the beloved comedy Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.  The mustachioed moron was so popular with audiences that they almost instantly started begging for a second helping of Mr. Burgundy’s antics. After almost ten years of waiting, fans finally have their follow-up. Truth be told, I was never a big fan of the scotch-swilling Mr. Burgundy and his equally obnoxious Channel 4 crew members, even though I tried so hard to see what everyone thought was so funny about them. They spouted off random and inconsistent jokes that never seemed to rise above mild chuckles, yet everyone roared on with delight and stared at me like I slapped an infant when I said I wasn’t a very big fan of Anchorman. Now we have director Adam McKay’s Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, and I’m sad to report that this crew of comedians couldn’t win me over on their second round. In addition to just not being very funny, Anchorman 2 is a dull and, frankly, boring comedy that simply recycles a large chunks of the worn-out jokes that were used the first time around.

Anchorman 2 picks up in the early 80s, with news anchor Ron Burgundy (played by Ferrell) and his wife, Veronica Corningstone (played by Christina Applegate), staring a promotion in the eye. It turns out that their boss and idol, Mack Tannen (played by Harrison Ford), is stepping down from his position as a nightly news anchor, leaving the position open to Ron and Veronica. After a tense meeting with Tannen, the job is offered to Veronica, which makes her the first woman to host a nightly news program. In a surprise move, Tannen decides to fire Ron for years of imbecilic behavior on the air, leaving the cocky newsman distraught and humiliated. Things get worse for Ron after he storms out on his marriage and ends up hosting a show at Sea World. After loosing his job at Sea World, Ron is approached by Freddie Sharp (played by Dylan Baker), who works for an up-and-coming 24-hour news network run by Kench Allenby (played by Josh Lawson) and Linda Jackson (played by Meagan Good). Ron accepts the offer under the condition that he can reunite his former news team, which consisted of Brian Fantana (played by Paul Rudd), Champ Kind (played by David Koechner), and Brick Tamland (played by Steve Carell). Everything seems to be going great for the reunited team, but after several run-ins with rival news anchor Jack Lime (played by James Marsden), the group begins waging a ratings war at their new network. In an attempt to be number one, Ron makes a bold choice to report on what people want to hear rather than what they need to hear, changing the course of news history.

Anchorman 2

While a good majority of the jokes in Anchorman 2 are met with crickets from the audience, the film still manages to cleverly poke fun at a long list of news stations including CNN, NBC, Fox News, and HLN, to name a few. There is something realistically amusing about watching Mr. Burgundy as he incorrectly speculates about a wild car chase, smokes crack on the air, reports on puff pieces, and shouts over a slew of guests battling to have their opinions heard. It’s all undeniably clever and it marks the few places where Anchorman 2 actually finds some momentum, but once McKay drifts away from the newsroom shenanigans, the film succumbs to juvenile silliness that bores more than it amuses. When Ron isn’t busy erupting in disbelief over the fact that one of his new bosses is black, there are bizarre screaming fits and staring contests between Carell’s Brick and his new crush, Chani (played by Kristen Wiig). There is the expected clueless racism and “WHAMMY” explosions from Champ Kind, who has also opened a new chicken restaurant that serves up breaded bats to its patrons. The only one who really gets a few good cracks in is Rudd, who seems to be able to sell any material he is given, even when he delivered the same jokes the first time around. There’s no doubt that the guys enjoy playing these characters and they are eating up the opportunity to ad-lib their way through the performances, but you’re left feeling like a group of talented comedians like this could have come up with better jokes, ones that could split your sides.

As far as the supporting roles and cameos go, Anchorman 2 finds plenty of funny men and women stepping in front of the camera to drive up the hilarity level. While there are too many to name here and some are best left a surprise, there are still some that play key roles within the film. Wiig’s Chani is basically a female version of Brick, a knuckleheaded dweeb that meets Carell’s string of nonsense with her own brand of offbeat comments. Meagan Good is fairly dull as Linda Jackson, Ron’s sassy African American boss who finds herself attracted to the scotch-and-flute loving news anchor. Applegate’s Veronica Corningstone remains largely the same, there to be exasperated with Ron’s belligerent behavior. Dylan Baker’s Freddie Sharp basically just grins from behind a pair of sunglasses and acts as the glue that holds Ron and his team together. Marsden is having a good time as Jack Lime, the rival news anchor that never misses a chance to rip Ron apart. Rounding out the main cast is Harrison Ford, who scowls in true Ford fashion through his role of Mack Tanen. Overall, while it does an excellent job spoofing 24-hour television news stations, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues still manages to feel like it’s on cruise control (much like Ron’s tumbling Winnebago). It looks like the cast had a great time throwing on the period clothing and hanging out with each other, but you know you have a problem when you’re marketing campaign ends up being funnier than your scattershot film.

Grade: D+

Final Destination 5 (2011)

Final Destination 5 (2011)

by Craig Thomas

It’s not uncommon for a movie with an interesting idea in the horror genre to be milked for all it’s worth. What is uncommon however is for the fifth in a series to be a worthy addition to the series. This is what happened in the case of Final Destination 5, the follow up to The FINAL Destination.

What the creators of the series have tried to do to keep it relevant is to focus on entertaining, something far too many films fail to do. Having transitioned away from the existential questions of the original, they have relied more and more on the gruesome deaths as the main marketing tool. Unfortunately, this means putting all of them in the trailer so watching the film becomes somewhat redundant. If you watch this film, do not check out the trailer first.

So, here is the plot for all Final Destination films. A terrible accident occurs and loads of people die, but due to one character having a premonition of what is going to happen they change the future and a small group of them survive. The result of “cheating death” is that he comes back around and kills the survivors one by one, in a series of needlessly gruesome and convoluted ways.

All the films are the same, aside from the character interactions, none of whom you particularly care about because you know most, if not all of them are going to die. So why watch? For the humour. Whilst the original was a horror with some laughs gained from the death scenes, they have evolved into a series of grizzly comedies. The only part that holds any interest is the ridiculously over-the-top manner in which death gets his revenge.

The great trick in this is the blatantly willful use of misdirection. We watch as we see a series of unlikely events converge to create a series of deadly hazards, only for the victim to step back from the brink at the last second, only to perish moments later in an even more unlikely freak occurrence. We know that each setup isn’t going to kill them, but it’s hard not feel the tension build as we know that death is coming. When it does finally arrive it is often a laugh out loud funny slapstick moment.

The creators know what the audiences want and have no hesitation in giving it to them. Even so, the writing is not terrible. Sure, it doesn’t reach the heights of Shakespeare or Aaron Sorkin (in my mind, interchangeable), but it is serviceable, for the most part. The plot is pretty much internally consistent.  The shoe-horning in of the detective who initially suspects the guy who had the vision caused the bridge to collapse due to breaking up with his girlfriend an hour before, is a bit much. But once the moment passes he is a vaguely useful character.

Final Destination 5 (2011)

There is a vague love story sub plot that doesn’t really have any relevance and quite frankly if you think moving to Paris for six months is the biggest problem in your life, then don’t expect much sympathy from me.

The acting is not brilliant and that doesn’t help to make you care about the characters any more. The only real exception is David Koechner as the boss you love to hate who brings his comedic talents to every scene. It’s also nice to see Tony Todd reprise his role as creepy coroner and plot expositionist (if that’s not a word, it should be), William Bludworth.

Despite my earlier praise for the series, it is no secret that it was a case of diminishing returns and that the number of people looking forward to Final Destination 5 was about five. Still, it has pumped life into a cherished franchise with wit and creative death and would be a worthwhile swan song for a series of films that have very nearly overstayed their welcome.

However, success can have its drawback and the rumour mill is on full turn suggesting that not only will there be a Final Destination 6, but also a 7th, both of which are to be filmed back-to-back. Whether these rumours are true is debatable, though less likely things have happened.

The kids in these movies can’t escape death forever, but seemingly the franchise can.

Grade: C-

Final Destination 5 is available on Blu-ray and DVD.