Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Case for Weighing Anchor 2

Sitting in a room filled with gangs of blokes or Hutt couples, I was expecting that the crowd at least would guffaw loudly if I didn’t manage to quite get into the second Anchorman film.  But if I was looking to them for amusement inspiration, I was searching in vain, as only mild mirth escaped their lips as the movie slowly, slowly trundled along. 

Anchorman 2 brings the cast of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy back ten years after the original for another look at the past.  Things have changed though, and it’s no longer the 70s and Farrah Fawcett hair.  No, now it’s the 80s, and the advent of 24 hour news, and Ron and his gang are there at the forefront.

It’s just a pity that the jokes aim for satire rather than for laughs.  Making well observed comments about the nature of the current news media through the infancy of non-stop coverage is very clever, but that intelligence does not really translate into laughs.  For that, the film relies on scenes about Black people, going blind, friendships with sharks and off screen anchor rivalry.  None of these are really that funny, with the most amusing interaction being that of Brick (Steve Carrell) and a potential girlfriend (played by the awesome Kristen Wiig), though even there, the pacing flags in what is meant to be slow and painful interactions. 

Part of the problem is also that Ron himself spends so much time out on his own, away from his wife Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate – there was a disturbing lack of her there) and from his network news team.  Will Ferrell can be a funny guy, but he seems to be most amusing when he is interacting with others or in scenes where others can react to him; on his own, his overblown presence and shouting is just a bit annoying.   

Noone really shines in this film either.  There is a (perhaps intentional?) tired quality to the look and feel of the film and the performances.  The ridiculously good looking James Marsden seems to try his utmost in his small role, but it seems sad rather than funny.  The worst example however is Harrison Ford, in spectacularly grumpy form and who almost seems resentful at being forced to participate in this film – or at least, there is nothing charismatic or likeable in the flat performance he delivers. 

Still, there are the odd laughs.  The dinner scene is so stupidly offensive as to be occasionally hilarious, and some of the more insane news stories are plain crazy.  But overall, there is too much time spent on the slow stuff and not enough on building the world and the characters.  Even the obligatory news anchor team showdown outstays its welcome about 20 seconds into the first confrontation, even if the wonderful Marion Cottillard makes a welcome cameo. 

I left the cinema not waiting to see if the credits held any easter eggs, and from the slow movement of the rest of the audience, I could tell others didn’t want to stay either, but weren’t energised enough to get up quickly.  

Verdict:  Anchorman 2 is a film 10 years coming and unfortunately it’s not really that good.  Without the petty rivalries and one up manships and sexism of the original… well, it is obviously very hard to generate real laughs.  5 black panthers out of 10.

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