Anchorman 2 salivates over the idea of scorning the 24 hours news cycle, lambasting the core ideals of a “non” news process. Screwball humor is rarely this scathing.
But, Anchorman 2 is also like a stalled clip show version of the original. For each distinctive wink at the camera as a returning Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) dissects small town car chases, there are five minutes of comedy which struggle to be punctual. The allure of pacing is sidestepped for an editor told to bunch up alternate takes into clumpy, droning idiocy. Hilariously. Scornfully. But it’s droning idiocy nonetheless.
Will Ferrell and Adam McKay pull scripting duties, forcing Burgundy away from his San Diego news slot for the promised land of GNN – the first 24 hours news network. Bit parts blossom in the case of numbnuts Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) while newcomer Linda Jackson (Meagan Good) ingests a torrent of racial humor.
This world of contorted, late ’70s body hair is constructed to be as ungainly as possible, becoming a true masterpiece of nonsense. Burgundy is either an oblivious social sloth or capable of accessing entire scenarios of stupidity depending on Anchorman 2’s needs. He’s cognizant for convenience.
The film wanders between slapping modern news for its ratings obsessions and personal conflicts with enough strength in both to justify the feature’s existence. Despite the blitzing of seemingly desperate advertising which preceded its launch, Ferrell’s sequel ambitions are not without purpose. As much as Anchorman was a smackdown of workplace misogyny, this bundle of sequel-ized idiocy is doubly notable. We laugh because it’s true. Depressingly, unmercifully true.
A tendency to lean on concepts of the first film are crutches if adhering to non-specific Hollywood rules to bump up content in such a follow-up. Anchorman 2’s version of the newsroom brawl invests in titanic visual effects and reeling cameos of limited necessity, although its surprises are nonetheless sharp.
Few things impinge on success here short of the film’s own overstated desires to run two hours – and then it’s not so much length so much as it is a tendency to stuff itself until edges can no longer hold this material together. Anchorman 2 may be a comedy which is too amusing and too amused by itself. And yet, Anchorman 2 is hysterically overcooked. Material is embedded into the piece because cutting it would be immoral for those who need laughs to live.
A shift from film to digital has occurred for this follow-up, somewhat ironic then since Anchorman 2 was Paramount’s final feature shipped to theaters on 35mm film. Arri Alexa continues its duties as a dominating Hollywood rig, used with such frequency that seeing its branding is now passe. No downsides here as this disc punches out extraordinary definition from an appreciably pleasing source. Clarity is a marvel without packets of noise to roughen up imagery.
Digital grading will pack in a suitably vintage layer of sandy oranges without devastating a primary-driven landscape. Blues, yellows, and reds stand as striking to spite any color changes. Exteriors display multiple hues, including beach sequences, Sea World show, and an outlying area which Burgundy banishes himself to. Colors sing on this disc.
Their brightness is elevated by a stern focus on depth, pushed up by beefy black levels and active contrast. Consistency is superb in addition to being especially rare for any disc. Every scene is gifted with a concentrated punch of highly budgeted results, a comedy which soars visually against a genre usually indifferent to sight seeing appeal.
A certain splotchiness exists on specific faces with hints of digital touch up. Christina Applegate is particularly afflicted by processing tools. Everyone else is freed from the grasp of post-production tinkering, allowing exceptional definition to peak through in close. Special attention is paid to medium shots too, keeping Anchorman 2 well dressed.
An awesome bass line interjects itself into the musical mixture of this ’70s era throwback, heavy on the low-end while still intense with clarity. Most of these songs sound new without any drain in fidelity. Highs are breached and lyrics sound gorgeous.
Otherwise, DTS-HD is called in to handle the routine “meh” of a comedy. Newsrooms are ambient heavy and exteriors show a touch of life before the movie puts itself back indoors. Until a booming air strike (!) with only minutes left, Anchorman 2 runs toward routine design.
It is with amazement these movies are made considering the gluttonous extras depicting on-set goofiness. A six way commentary is like the film itself: Completely over active. Director Adam McKay, producer Judd Apatow, Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, and David Koechner join together for this mammoth track.
Three versions of the film are offered, said commentary only applicable to an unrated edition on the first disc, running only a few minutes longer than the theatrical edition. By comparison, the “Super Sized” cut on disc two is 150 minutes, too long for mere comedy mortals.
Back on the first disc, an in-character gag fest goes behind-the-scenes with a tongue undoubtedly embedded in cheek for 19 minutes. Fifteen minutes worth of a gag reel continue into a record string of line-o-ramas, all called by different names depending on the scene. Clips from bogus news reports, the Sea World show, a verbal cat fight, and more are jammed on here. Those looking for earlier material can view a line reading session, all 21-minutes of it.
Disc 2? A four-part behind-the-scenes doc holds out 46-minutes without becoming dull, even if it falls into routine. Eight deleted scenes are nothing compared to a strain of alternate/extended takes which could fill their own movie at 90 minutes. Pre-viz is amusing for its needed crudeness, an auditions carry some lines not in the film. Finally, a clip from a benefit showing is Jack Black at his best.
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For more information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.
Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.