Review by Gene
“Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention. I’ve just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. I need all of you, to stop what you’re doing and listen!”
I’ll start this review by fully disclosing that I’m a big Will Ferrell fan in general, and a big Anchorman fan specifically. It is without question Ferrell’s best role and is in hot contention for my favorite comedy of all time. So, it is with a slight bit of bias that I went to see Anchorman 2 ready to laugh uncontrollably before the opening previews even came up. So when I explain that this movie is a ROTFL level bit of comedy, just keep my bias in mind.
One of the inherent difficulties for a comedy sequel is trying to install new material that is in the same vein as what the original was able to touch so many funny bones with. You can’t just do the same jokes over and over again and be taken seriously (hear that Hangover parts two and three?). I think Anchorman 2 accomplishes this pretty well. There are one or two classic scenes from the first one that you do see pop-up again, but they are done with a whole new spin and new characters so it works out okay.
Another difficulty for me personally on this film was trying to accomplish what is the goal of this blog; draw out any Godly elements therein and expound upon them from a Christian perspective. With straight up comedies this is tough because you know that everything is just intentionally silly and ridiculous. With comedies like Anchorman there is also a level of crudeness and bad language you need to be prepared to get over as well. However, there are a couple of things I think we can look at on a more serious note, if you’ll allow me to knowingly over-react a bit in order to make a larger point. The characters approach everything with such a silly attitude that it’s hard to take them seriously enough to apply some principles and values to it… but I’ll try 🙂
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues picks up about 10 to 15 years after the first movie to where Ron Burgundy and Veronica Corningstone, Will Ferrell and Christina Applegate, are now married and successful co-anchors on a nationally broadcast news network. Ron’s news team have all gone off to do their own things, whether that be photographing cute puppies, selling fried bats, or… being dead. Ron and Veronica are living the dream, but when Veronica gets a bit of a leg up in the news business, Ron gives her an ultimatum; it’s either me or the job. In doing so Ron drives an unnecessary wedge in their marriage as he cannot cope with a wife who is more successful or better at reporting the news than him. I would guess that this would be a tough thing for many, if not most men, to swallow. It’s not a matter of chauvinism but rather a sense of duty in being able to provide for your own family. This is an honorable quality for men who want to be providers, but we should also understand that women can take on that role as well. Many Christian women seek to fulfill the descriptions of a wife given in Proverbs 31. When we read that chapter we find a woman who is involved in the economy, is apparently running her own business and is a successful entrepreneur. Providing for the family is something that both the husband and wife can take part in, however it should be cautioned that if they are doing so at the expense of their children then it is all vanity.
From after the first few minutes of this movie until well over the halfway point, it was non-stop laughs for me. Seriously, a belly laugh for myself and most of the crowd at the theater every minute or so. Brick Tamland (Steve Carrell) is given a much larger role in this film. Despite there being a couple moments of feeling like his lines were dragging on and no longer funny, it was a good decision to incorporate him more. The rest of the news crew, Brian Fantana and Champ Kind, played again by Paul Rudd and David Koechner, are their usual selves from the first film and have about the same screen time as in the first. And yes, Baxter the dog is back again. When this movie is hitting on all cylinders I found it every bit as funny as the first. I don’t know if it is as quotable as the first, but there are moments where it is every bit as good. The last 20 to 30 minutes however fell off a bit. There were still some laughs, but nothing near the level of the first 90 or so minutes. It comes to an emotional head during this portion of the movie, much the same as the first one did. Ron sustains an injury which puts him out of the anchor chair for a time. That provides for some funny moments but it never got back to the level it previously reached. The theater I was in was noticeably quieter during the last parts of the movie than the first 2/3 of it. This didn’t ruin the movie for me, but it was a bit of a disappointment.
While the first Anchorman played on a lot of social stereotypes regarding male and female roles, this movie often does the same regarding race. One of the first scenes this is done involves the news crew meeting their new boss, Linda Jackson (Meagan Good), a black female! This is quite a funny interaction, and assuming you are able to lower your “I’m offended” barometer to nearly zero, most of these moments are done in fair taste as the stupidity of the stereotype is greatly embellished in order to emphasize the comedy of it. In fact, the mere presence of these types of things made me think of another thing about Christianity which I personally think is a point of truth in the Christian God in particular. What I’m referring to is the equality in God’s eyes of all mankind regardless of race, gender, etc.
The Apostle Peter, upon it being revealed to him that God now accepts Gentiles into His kingdom said, “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears him and does what is right is welcome to Him.’” (Acts 10:34, 35). Paul wrote to the Galatians that, “for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither bond nor free, neither male nor female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:27, 28). Making distinctions between people is a natural part of being human. Some distinctions are warranted and necessary (male and female bathrooms for example). However many other distinctions, such as declaring one race “less human” than another, are a mark of disgrace on any society. We should of course make sure we always fall short of judging a person and their value as a human being based on such distinctions. God wants all mankind to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9) and we would do well to have an equally high view of all people, everywhere.
I know many Christians, some of the guys involved with this blog even, who wouldn’t see a movie like this due to the crudeness and language alone. That is something to be mindful of and to be sure you’re able to separate yourself from it. The cursing isn’t over the top from a secular perspective (no F-bombs that I recall), but there are about ½ dozen times the Lord’s name is used vainly. And of course, the topics in general are often crude and/or vulgar. I don’t find those things bothering me a great deal or affecting my daily speech or actions, but it is something you may consider guarding yourself against if needed.
My Rating: 4/5
I typically view a sequel in comparison to the first. If I’m doing that here, I would put Anchorman 2 just a notch below the first, thought I certainly wouldn’t argue anyone thinking it was just as good. All of the new characters brought in did a great job fitting in with the established characters. I also thought it did well at moving along with the times in having women now fairly accepted in the workforce but now dealing with black people in positions of power, as well as introducing the concept of 24-hr. news and the inevitable pitfalls of that. The noticeable drop off in laughter near the end of the film however is what brings this down slightly below first, in my opinion.
Ron Burgandy: “I’m so lonely, I paid a hobo to spoon with me.”
Ron Burgandy: “Andre the Giant gave a surprisingly nimble foot rub.”
Champ Kind: “You know what they call bats? Chicken of the cave.”