(US - 2013)
Directed by Adam McKay. Written by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Cast: Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, Kristen Wiig, James Marsden, Dylan Baker, Meagan Good, Harrison Ford, Greg Kinnear, Josh Lawson, Judah Nelson, Fred Willard, Chris Parnell, June Diane Raphael. (PG-13, 120 mins)
Back in 2004, the $25 million ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY made more than triple its budget but never topped the box office and dropped out of the top five after two weeks. The film became a modern comedy classic on DVD and cable, where it amassed a devoted cult following when people discovered how consistently hilarious and quotable it is. Star/co-writer Will Ferrell left SNL two years earlier and had the hits OLD SCHOOL and ELF, but it was ANCHORMAN that would become the defining work of his big-screen career and his partnership with director/co-writer Adam McKay, though I contend that 2010's THE OTHER GUYS is their masterpiece. It's nearly a decade later, and after what must be the longest, most aggressive, and all-encompassing marketing campaigns in cinema history, ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES arrives just before Ferrell resorted to going door-to-door across America in his Ron Burgundy wardrobe. With double the budget, probably to accommodate the increased star power and salary requirements of Ferrell and Steve Carell, it's obviously a bigger movie. And a louder movie. It's also bombastically self-indulgent as Ferrell and McKay seem to be making it up as they go along. Nine years ago, they had enough outtakes and abandoned subplots from the first film to assemble the straight-to-DVD spinoff film WAKE UP, RON BURGUNDY. There's no such restraint here. Running nearly 30 minutes longer than the first film, Ferrell and McKay gather up seemingly every discarded comedy idea they concocted since the first entry and throw everything against the wall to see what sticks. Its rapid fire assault of gags might sound ambitious but it comes off as sloppy and desperate, almost like they could be working on a higher level than we're expecting but more likely they're just punking us with an almost Sandlerian level of audience contempt. There's no doubt the coming weeks will find passionate defenses of the film and you'll see terms like "anarchic," "absurdist," "subversive," "Dadaist", and maybe even, and I can't believe I'm writing this, "Bunuel-ian" tossed about with wild, pretentious abandon as if there's some deeper shit going on, but even as a fan of Ferrell, the first film, and absurdist humor, I found ANCHORMAN 2 to be jaw-droppingly unfunny and a dumpster fire of a movie, the kind of catastrophically awful train wreck where it's not hyperbolic to suggest that it's Ferrell and McKay's GIGLI or THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH.