Anchorman 2 silly and surprising

anchorman2Before I start my review of Anchorman 2 let me just be clear. There are few actors on this planet I dislike more than Will Ferrell. I realise Anchorman is probably his greatest work, and Anchorman 2 is basically the Will Ferrell-iest movie of them all, but I tried to go in to this movie with an open mind.

And it surprised me. The most rewarding part of the plot is the relentless procession of witty one-liners about the saturation of modern news and cultural changes relating to women and minorities. Ron Burgundy is his usual sexist, racist, homophobic self but the rest of the cast carries the film nicely. Steve Carrell’s character Brick again steals the show and, it a stroke of genius, has been teamed up with Kristen Wiig to create small scenes of brilliance which completely steal the show.

Most of the comedy in the film is clever in the same way that jokes about airplane food are clever to stand up audiences. They get a laugh out of audiences because people can relate to what’s being made fun of, not because they’re particularly offering anything new or intelligent for audiences. Anchorman 2 generates legitimate laughs at the expense of the news media, but it just doesn’t offer anything new or exciting. There’s nothing here most people wouldn’t already know about the media.

The film gets lost in its own silliness and as its final act begins there seems to have been a determined effort to make the most ridiculous, over-the-top final act they could. In a weird way it works, backed up by the most impressive lineup of cameos in years, and comes to a satisfying end.

I’m conflicted by this movie. I laughed, a few times. But for a lot of it I felt like I was watching something not far beyond the artistic levels of a Jackass movie. It’s funny because it’s silly, not because it’s smart. I guess that’s what it’s for. I guess that’s what Will Ferrell is good at. I guess if you like Will Ferrell and the first Anchorman movie this is more of the same. Perfect, genuine, silly fun. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Out in NZ cinemas 19 December 2013

Check out the brilliant New Zealand entry to Ron Burgundy’s Guide to the World:

Watch the trailer here: