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Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Blu-ray Review)

28 Mar, 2014 By: John Latchem

Street 4/1/14
Box Office $127.35 million
$29.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray
Theatrical version rated 'PG-13' for crude and sexual content, drug use, language and comic violence.
Super-Sized version rated 'R' for language, drug use, sexual material and references.
Unrated version also available.
Stars Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, Meagan Good, James Marsden, Kristen Wiig, Dylan Baker, Greg Kinnear, Judah Nelson, Josh Lawson, Harrison Ford, Fred Willard, Chris Parnell.

This Blu-ray offers so many alternate cuts of Anchorman 2 I probably couldn’t tell you which specific scene goes with which version. Anchorman 2 is one of those rare discs where the overwhelming volume of material transcends any effort to organize it into a film.

Strictly speaking, there are three versions included on the Blu-ray: the 118-minute ‘PG-13’ theatrical cut, the slightly longer unrated version that extends a few jokes and swaps a couple of lines of dialogue, and the “Super-Sized” ‘R’-rated cut that runs 25 minutes longer and includes a reported 763 alternate jokes from the theatrical cut.

On top of all that, there are nearly two hours of additional deleted, extended and alternate scenes. All of which means if you are looking to get your fill of Ron Burgundy material, look no further.

It isn’t the same case as the first Anchorman, where there was enough unused footage to create almost a completely new movie for the DVD (reconstructing subplots that were jettisoned after poor test screenings). The Super-Sized edition is essentially an alternate version of Anchorman 2 using different takes to construct essentially the same story, with the biggest change probably a lengthy musical sequence about diversity (a remnant of a discarded marketing proposal to create a Ron Burgundy Broadway musical).

None of the versions are really “better” than the other, since none have really assembled all the best material in one spot.

The filmmakers are so adept at creating this strange, off-kilter world of TV news in the 1970s that takes will just go on and on without any signs of slowing down. It’s as if a bunch of guys decided to participate in “Anchorman” cosplay and filmed it. Most of the comedy stems solely from the personalities of the characters they inhabit.

At first blush, some viewers might find the movie kind of boring. As a series of setpieces, individual scenes offer bits of comedic gold, but they aren’t necessarily well served by the film's construction. It’s a weird cycle, since the scenes won’t make much sense without the movie’s storyline, but once you understand the context they’re fantastically hilarious in their own way.

The commentary track on the unrated cut, featuring director Adam McKay and the main cast members, is actually more straightforward than expected, but offers some enlightening insights into what the MPAA finds acceptable. For that reason, I suspect the unrated cut is the truest to the filmmakers’ version of Anchorman 2, with a few minor tweaks made to achieve the ‘PG-13’ theatrical cut.

Anchorman 2 definitely has a more defined plot than the first film, as Ron (Will Ferrell) reassembles his news team (Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner) to take a job with a new 24-hour news network called GNN, which is owned by a rowdy Australian millionaire airline owner (Josh Lawson) comprised of equal parts Ted Turner, Rupert Murdoch and Richard Branson.

Desperate for ratings, Ron indulges in all the stereotypes that people now criticize cable news for, such as an obsession with patriotism, pumping up fluff news pieces to fill the time, and devoting hours to high-speed car chases. At one point, Ron and the news team even smoke crack on the air.

Such a biting satire about cable news channels echoes the finer points of Network, especially in the way Ron takes over the airwaves with lowest-common-denominator pablum.

All this causes Ron to lose sight (literally, actually) of what’s truly important in Ron’s life: his marriage to Veronica (Christina Applegate) and spending time with their adorable but slightly strange son Walter (Judah Nelson).

The film finally finds its energy in a wild final act that mimics one of the best sequences of the first film, that being the massive brawl between rival news teams. As with the first movie, the fight is cameo central for a slew of famous faces called in to lampoon a specific niche of news.

The Blu-ray also includes several behind-the-scenes featurettes, gag reels, a cast table read and auditions from both “Anchorman” movies.


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