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'Anchorman 2' aweigh for laughs

Published January 02. 2014 05:00PM

Recently, you couldn't turn on the TV without seeing Will Ferrell portraying Ron Burgundy.

In car commercials, promotional segments and actual broadcast news shows, there was Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy, never breaking character.

In "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues," Will Ferrell continues the ruse as Ron Burgundy.

Ferrell, co-writing the screenplay with his producing-writing partner, Adam McKay, who is back to direct "Anchorman 2," misses no opportunity to show how dim-witted, self-absorbed, politically-incorrect and oblivious to it all is Ron Burgundy.

Key to the comedy here is the word "oblivious." Ferrell never indicates to the audience that he's in on the joke. Ferrell plays it straight. There's nary a wink-wink, nudge-nudge in "Anchorman 2."

As with his other writing and films, McKay ("Step Brothers," 2008; "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," 2006) nails deadpan humor. He pushes a joke, a line of dialogue, or a sight gag until he bludgeons a laugh out of you.

And chortle, guffaw and snort you will at "Anchorman 2," one of the silliest movies of 2013.

"Anchorman 2" is funnier than the original "Anchorman," released nearly a decade ago in 2004. There are more jokes, humorous bits of dialogue and ridiculous sight gags.

There is also more bad hair, more bad 1970s fashions and interior design and more bad 1970s songs (depending on whether or not you're a fan of 1970s music).

Who would have thought the free-lovin,' disco-dancing, gas-guzzling decade would appear to be a time of innocence?

And, yet, innocence, or at least, naivety, and cluelessness is what Ron Burgundy and his newsroom cohorts are all about.

This time, the San Diego local news team is off to New York City to help found a 24-7, CNN-style, TV news network, GNN, Global News Network.

In the story line, slight as it is, Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) is torn between his career and the responsibilities of his marriage to Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), a competing news anchor, and their son, Walter (Judah Nelson).

There is a rivalry between Burgundy and fellow GNN newscaster Jack Lime (James Marsden) and a conflict with GNN owner, Kench Allenby (Josh Lawson) over a potentially controversial news story.

In between the punch lines, "Anchorman 2" delivers some punches, obvious as they may be, about the nature of TV news:

"There's no real news being reported. It's all about the ratings."

And: "What happens when the powerful own the news?"

But mostly, "Anchorman 2" is all about fun.

Still, you have to enjoy the Ferrell-McKay humor to enjoy "Anchorman 2." Often times, it's all in the delivery as with the line: "I'm laughing like a ventriloquist's dummy."

Or this: the career goal of Burgundy is to "have salon quality hair and read the news."

Ferrell rarely cracks a smile, underneath his coiffed hair and bushy mustache. Ferrell, in the tradition of Bill Murray and Chevy Chase, is his own self-contained straight man.

His news sidekicks, reprising their roles, are equally silly in their seriousness.

David Koechner, as Champ Kind, the sportscaster, is earnestly dumb and dumber.

Paul Rudd, as Brian Fantana, an investigative journalist, is sweetly in form.

Steve Carrell, as Brick Tamland, the whimpering weatherman, is over-the-top hilarious in his often bizarre way.

Among Carrell's most humorous scenes are his with Kristen Wiig, as Chani, a not-too-bright GNN newsroom secretary, with whom he falls in love. They are not only funny together, they are also charming.

Christina Applegate is never better as Veronica Corningstone, Ron Burgundy's wife and nemesis.

In supporting roles are Harrison Ford as Mack Tannen, a TV executive; Greg Kinnear as Gary, a boyfriend; Meagan Good as GNN station manager Linda Jackson; and Fred Willard, as Ed Harken, a TV newsman.

There are many cameos, with several not credited: Sacha Baron Cohen, Jim Carrey, Kirsten Dunst, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Liam Neeson, Vince Vaughn, Kanye West, John C. Reilly and Marion Cotillard.

Bill Kurtis does the film's voiceover.

"Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues," at nearly two hours, runs a little long for a comedy and plays itself out with a preposterous plot twist near the end that smacks of scriptwriters' plot-line desperation.

Until then, it's anchors aweigh with Ron Burgundy and his TV news team. Tune in for lots of laughs.

"Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues," MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some Material May Be Inappropriate For Children Under 13.) for crude and sexual content, drug use, language and comic violence; Genre: Comedy; Run time: 1 hr., 59 min.; Distributed by Paramount Pictures.

Credit Readers' Anonymous: Stay until the very end of the "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" credits for a GNN boardroom scene with Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner and Steve Carrell.

Box Office, Dec. 20: "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" continued at No. 1, two weeks in a row, $31.4 million, $127.5 million, two weeks, dropping anchor on "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues," which despite its unprecedented hype could only get enough viewers to tune in for a not so legendary No. 2, with $26.7 million, and $40 million, since opening Dec. 18.

3. "Frozen," $19.1 million, $191.5 million, five weeks; 4. "American Hustle," $19.1 million, $20.2 million, two weeks; 5. "Saving Mr. Banks," $9.3 million, $9.9 million, two weeks; 6. "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," $8.7 million, $371.7 million, five weeks; 7. "Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas," $8.5 million, $28.2 million, two weeks; 8. "Walking with Dinosaurs 3D," $7.3 million, one week; 9. "Dhoom 3," $3.3 million, one week; 10. "Thor: The Dark World," $1.3 million, $200.7 million, seven weeks

Unreel, Jan. 3:

"Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones," R: Mysterious forces are at it again - and we're not referring to those who decided to produce "Paranormal Activity," nor those who attend it. Andrew Jacobs, Molly Ephraim, Richard Cabral and Crystal Santos star in the horror-thriller.

Read Paul Willistein's movie reviews at the Lehigh Valley Press web site,; the Times-News web site,; and hear them on "Lehigh Valley Art Salon," 6 - 6:30 p.m. Mondays, WDIY 88.1 FM, and, where they're archived. Email Paul Willistein: You can follow Paul Willistein on Twitter and friend Paul Willistein on facebook.

This movie review column is dedicated to Lehigh Valley journalists Tom Fegely (1931-2013) and Len Righi (1950-2013).

Three Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

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