Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ron Burgundy still classy (and stupid) in sequel

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In the 2004 movie Anchorman, a combination of stupidity and arrogance saw San Diego meat puppet Ron Burgundy lose and reclaim the title of No. 1 news anchor, in addition to hooking up with Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), a serious newswoman who by all rights should have been out of his league.

In director Adam McKay's sequel, set on the cusp of a new bad-hair decade -- the '80s -- the stakes are raised as Ron and Veronica, married with a child, transplant to New York City, where Veronica is better appreciated and Ron's incompetence is subject to more critical scrutiny. The inevitable result: Veronica is promoted and Ron is fired, a blow to his pride that results in a marital separation.

What's a rejected anchorman to do?

The answer, as revealed in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, is to re-assemble his supportive clique of friends -- investigative reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), sports guy/closet case Champ Kind (David Koechner) and thick-as-a-brick weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) -- to dip their newshound shnozzes in the trending new media trough: 24-hour news networks.

Therein lies the satiric edge of Anchorman 2 that prevents it from being a loose assembly of skits comprising a stoner movie. The secret of Ron's success -- the thing that rescues him from a 2 a.m. graveyard shift -- is his assumption the public is as stupid as he is and will thus appreciate a non-stop barrage of feel-good stories, live feeds of highway chases, crack-smoking demonstrations and assertions of American superiority. Ron is not only proven right, he invents the modus operandi of both CNN and Fox News.

If the first movie detailed Ron's failure to accommodate women in the workplace, the sequel doubles down with a racial component: Ron and crew are obliged to work for a black woman, Linda Jackson (Meagan Good), who, like Veronica before her, somehow manages to fall for Ron. (A scene in which Ron attempts to impress Linda's family over dinner with his black street cred is a squirm-inducing gem of bad taste.)

The story arc of the film pretty much duplicates the original, and some bits fall flat. (Ron leads a blind hermit existence in a lighthouse at one point.) But scene for scene, the comedy lives up to its predecessor, whether it's in a new version of Anchorman's news team battle -- you knew it was coming, and yet it's still hilarious -- or Ferrell and McKay's experimentation with comic tropes, like a scene preceding an RV accident in which the setup ("Why do you have this bag of bowling balls and this terrarium filled with scorpions?") is just as funny as the payoff.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 18, 2013 D3

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