“Network” For Idiots — Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
I tried, folks.
I really, really tried.
I wanted so much to like “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.”
I overcame phobias. I swallowed pride. I tried to fit in and be one of the mindless masses. Hell, I guzzled down three cocktails before I stepped into the theater, hoping to lube up. But in the end, I failed.
Embarrassment followed me from the very start — more like humiliation, really. Standing there at the front of a long line of moviegoers, all there to presumably see American Hustle or Saving Mr. Banks, I completely broke ranks. Sort of like going to a fancy steakhouse and then ordering a cheeseburger. Or drinking Merlot at a wine tasting.
It was excruciating.
In my defense, at least Anchorman 2 wasn’t an Adam Sandler movie. A man’s got to have some standards of decency. I wouldn’t be seen entering a Adam Sandler movie without wearing a disguise.
So, let’s just skip through all the bullshit and call this movie for what it really is — total fucking rubbish.
No wait. It’s worse than that. In fact, the last 25 minutes or so of this meandering mess might be the most painfully unfunny series of cinematic scenes ever strung together on film. It doesn’t matter if this next part of the review comes as a spoiler to you, since the movie plot is about as memorable as a bowel movement.
Before I try and tell you how the story ends, here’s the basic plot.
Well, never mind. What fucking difference does it make?
Comedian Will Ferrell plays the title role of Ron Burgandy. He’s taken over as national anchorman on a CNN-like network. Ferrell certainly has loads of talent, having grabbed the cinematic baton previously held so high for years by Robin Williams, and later Jim Carey. America’s favorite goof is undoubtedly now Ferrell.
The movie is basically one lame sketch after another (I did count six laughs, which at the $9 matinee price amounts to $1.50 per giggle, minus two hours of my time). There are a number of sidekicks and wasted cameos that came with potential. None is more appalling unfunny than Steve Carrell, who plays the network’s weatherman. Carell has done some marvelous work in film and television over the years, but this will undoubtedly stand out as his Ishtar moment. It’s fucking painful to watch. Trouble for the entire audience is, Carell’s character gets a fair amount of screen time, dragging down what’s already an anchor of a film. Carell’s screen bits and pieces are like tossing bowling balls onto a sunken ship.
Despite plenty of gasps, yawns, and palm to forehead moments — part of the movie actually works. While not exactly the sequel to Network, the griping 1976 Oscar-winning portrayal of television news and mass media, Anchorman 2 does manage to land a few nice punches. The film’s IQ rises above the imbecile level for about 15 minutes, during which we ride along on the laugh train when television news is shown to start moving away from what used to be a public service into a profit center, in the process tossing serious investigative journalism aside and reconstructing what amounts to yet another entertainment and reality show.
Mindful that this all takes place in 1980, when CNN actually launched as the first 24-hour news channel, one of the film’s best scenes comes when the station is forced to come up with something to counter a historic sit-down interview with Yassir Arafat over on the rival network. Desperate for anything that might draw in viewers, Ron Burgandy notices an OJ Simpson-like car chase happening on a local station, and then decides to cut into the live feed, going national. All across the country, viewers flip the channel from a serious discussion on peace in the Middle East to watch the car chase. In the end, even Arafat leans forward during his interview and announces he wants to see how the car chase ends.
Sorry to blow the punch line.
Speaking of punch lines, nothing is quite as head-shaking and jaw-dropping as the final half-hour of the film, which involves hand-to-hand combat between the heads of the television networks. This all takes place in Central Park. If this set up for high comedy doesn’t exactly sound like a laugh riot, you’re not alone. There wasn’t a single chuckle heard during my screening of about 50 people during the closing few sequences.
Oh, but the movie’s final scene gets even worse. Ron Burgandy is standing on a beach preening himself in front a flock of family and friends. Hark! There out in the distance, swimming in the waters of the bay is a killer shark. Alas! It’s the same shark Burgandy raised from its infancy (go along with this, folks). Thrilled to see his pet shark again, who’s now matured into full adulthood, Burgandy swims out to sea for a hug and kiss with the giant beast. Well, the killer shark does what, you know, sharks do and starts violently attacking Burgandy.
Burgandy’s dog, a tiny terrier, dives head first into the ocean and swims out to the rescue. The pup chomps on the shark’s sidequarters, thus scaring it away. Burgandy’s life is miraculously saved. Uptempo music begins to play and the closing credits roll.
It’s fucking terrible.
Paging Adam Sandler. Paging Adam Sandler. You’ve now got some serious competition.
Naturally, this film will become a huge success and make a shitload of profit — which is all that really mattered in the first place One presumes Anchorman 3 can’t be too far off.