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.
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.
Our Idiot Brother
This week, Anti-Film School encourages all of our readers to check out Our Idiot Brother, which comes out on Blu-ray and DVD today. This heartfelt comedy about a big hearted stoner down on his luck is filled with nonstop laughs, wit, and a left of center performance from Paul Rudd. In my eyes, it ranked as one of the best comedies of the summer, a film that was somewhat overlooked by audiences. I was pleasantly surprised with this film and I think many of you will enjoy it. If you want to check out my review of Our Idiot Brother, click here to see my letter grade and analysis. I guarantee that you will just dig this movie, man!
by Steve Habrat
I wish every film could have characters that are as entrancing and three dimensional as Our Idiot Brother, a late summer comedy that has been met with a relatively mixed reception from critics and audiences. But I found Our Idiot Brother to be charismatic, consistent, and a total delight to watch. Its dry, knee-slapping humor is fast and demanding of our undivided attention. The film is kept afloat by its buoyant adult tone that never slips into fantastical slapstick pratfalls or senseless gross out humor. It feels unfeigned and it leaves the viewer feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. The film is a game changer for Paul Rudd, who is usually cast as the prim and proper smart-aleck everyman. Here he channels Jeff Bridges’ The Dude (even down to the tribal print pants), with such likable results, you almost want to leap into the screen and give him a hug.
The film follows organic farmer Ned (Rudd), a gullible, peace-loving stoner who has never really grown up. He sells vegetables at a farmers market along with his dog Willie Nelson. One day, the altruistic Ned is suckered into selling a bag of pot to a uniformed policeman. He gets sent to jail for a couple of months and is let out early for good behavior. He returns to his farm to find that is dreadlocked girlfriend Janet (Played by Kathryn Hahn) has replaced him with another man, Billy (Played by comedian T.J. Miller), another stoner who avoids altercation. Ned moves on to restart his life and shacks up with his three sisters, happily married Liz (Played by Emily Mortimer), lesbian Natalie (Played by Zooey Deschanel), and career driven Miranda (Played by Elizabeth Banks). Ned soon finds himself caught in the middle of an affair, an unplanned pregnancy, and a life-changing job opportunity. He means well, but his sisters deem him the root of their problems and slowly begin to turn on him.
Our Idiot Brother is artfully composed and seems a step above the slew of sweet natured gross out comedies that have been all the rage. It’s Ned’s down-to-earth interaction and nonjudgmental character that makes him such a charmer. He wears his heart on his sleeve. You will smile at his one-on-ones with Natalie’s partner Cindy (Played by Rashida Jones), who agrees to help him get his dog back from Janet. The dog is Ned’s world, and while it seems at first like a flimsy side-story, it warmed my heart that Ned’s world revolved around his four-legged companion. You will also cherish a budding friendship with the aspiring sci-fi writer Jeremy (Played by Adam Scott), who seems to understand Ned’s frequency.
I loved this film’s solemn moments, the one’s with raw family interaction. One scene near the end reveals Ned as a wounded individual who just wants his family to get along. He simply wants to find the joys in life and avoid negativity, which he ironically brings with him everywhere he goes. He has the best intentions in mind. Ned’s sisters are also a pleasure to spend time with. I found Natalie’s aspiring stand-up comic flirt to be dreamy and supportive. She lacks a filter and can be a bit vulgar at times, but she’s just as down to earth as Ned. She does, however, keep her composure elegantly in tact. Miranda, who is tough to love, is a domineering control freak that has a soft spot underneath her concrete shell. She is surprisingly vulnerable. Liz has hippie undertones and is at times a bit jaded, but is also manages to be kind and placid.
Our Idiot Brother is touching and we root for Ned to get his life on track. This man is shit on by life every step of the way and we can’t help but admire his sunny disposition. No matter how bad, or weird for that matter, things get, he still has a smile for everyone. His sudden meltdown is a bit alarming, but we can see where he’s coming from in the wake of all that happens to him of the course of the flick. The film thankfully never falls victim to stoner comedy clichés and instead hurdles over them nicely. The comedy here is restrained and if you blink, you may miss some classic one liners. But the film grounds itself nicely and becomes a pleasant little surprise. If you go into this film expecting something along the lines of Role Models or I Love You, Man, you will be severely disappointed. Ned turns out to be a character that, when the going gets tough, we should aspire to be like. He acts as a lesson to us all if you’re willing to look close enough. If a simple story about a guy and his dog is you’re thing, look no further than the cheery Our Idiot Brother. Grade: A-