ANCHORMAN 2 (M)
Directed by Adam McKay
Reviewed by Graeme Tuckett
Anchorman 2 is a nine-years-later return to the great high point of Will Ferrell's career.
Anchorman, which has gone on to become a genuine cult classic, told of Ferrell's old-school newsreader Ron Burgundy, decked out in polyester and seersucker by the yard, blundering his way through a mid-70s workplace minefield of newly empowered women, somehow emerging with Christina Applegate on his arm, and his career intact.
It was never less than energetic in its pursuit of a laugh, and occasionally downright inspired. The film also played a large part in launching the movie career of Steve Carell, who was a Ferrell sidekick in Anchorman but has gone on to become a bona-fide comedy superstar, with a few quite excellent dramatic roles on his CV as well.
And now it is Ferrell, whose career has been really starting to stink up the joint in the last few years, who is catching a ride on his old mucker's coat-tails.
When Carell and Kristen Wiig – a very welcome addition to the lineup – are left to perform a scene together, this film comes to life. They are a fabulously good comic pair, happily ad-libbing and obviously enjoying working together again.
But it says a lot about the sheer laziness and desperation of this screenplay that none of the other characters, bar a very perfunctory final signoff, ever interact with Wiig's character at all. She was written in simply to give Carell's character more to do, and thus to give Anchorman 2 at least a couple of scenes that are truly inspired.
Next to them, this is a film almost entirely bereft of new jokes, desperately coasting by on old routines haphazardly thrown together.
The storyline about Burgundy falling for and having an affair with a woman superior is dutifully recycled. And because now she is African-American, Ferrell gets to make some observations about relationships between the races in the 1970s and 80s.
The only trouble is that these cracks come so thick and fast it's hard to avoid the conclusion that Ferrell isn't so much satirising racism as indulging in it, all the while covering his lardy arse by keeping up a pretence of ironic commentary.
Apart from that, the jazz flute gets reused, as does the battle of the news teams, though with some very high-profile celeb cameos this time around. Ferrell isn't even above throwing in an ice-skating gag from Blades of Glory, at which point the scraping sound you can hear isn't the skates on the ice, it's Ferrell scratching frantically at the bottom of the barrel.
This isn't so much a screenplay as a collection of ideas and sketches Ferrell thinks are funny, strung together in the hope of providing a retirement scheme.
However, any film that features a man bottle-feeding a great white shark is at least getting a couple of stars, just for trying that hard.
- © Fairfax NZ News