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

It's nine years since Anchorman appeared in cinemas. Not that many of you went to see it on the big screen, of course. No, most of you discovered the joys of Will Ferrell’s unreconstructed, casually sexist 70s newsreader on DVD and, probably, have seen it several times since.

To some extent, home entertainment is the natural home of this kind of comedy, as the background jokes, the throwaway gags and – by the beard of Zeus – the eminently quotable dialogue need time to bed in to the global psyche.

There’s a point then in the (very) long-awaited sequel Anchorman 2 – several points in fact – when, well, the film doesn’t feel particularly funny. There are two reasons for this. In some cases, it's because it just isn’t funny. In many cases though, it’s because it just isn’t quite hitting the extreme heights of previous scenes / the previous movie and, frankly, anything would have suffered in comparison. So, yes, Anchorman 2 is a bit of a curate's egg but, for the most part, it’s extremely bloody funny.

The action picks up with Ron and wife Veronica Corningstone (Applegate) co-hosting the news on New York’s Channel 9 news. The prime time spot at the station is vacant… and Veronica gets the job, while Ron gets whatever’s the US news-reading equivalent of a P45. His marriage hits the rocks, his life is a mess – his relationship with dog Baxter is better than his relationship with his six-year old son Walter (Nelson) – the “scotchy scotch scotch” drinking is out of hand, and the jobs are increasingly dead end. That is until Ron’s approached by new channel GNN to put the old team – Brian (Rudd), Brick (Carell) and Champ (Koechner) – back together, return to New York and help launch the world’s first 24-hour news network.

More than that probably gives too much away. There’s a bitter rivalry with another news team, headed up by Jack Lime (Marsden),  attempts to reconnect with Veronica and a tricky romantic liaison with station boss Linda (Good) – African American AND female? You can probably guess where that leads, joke wise – and, for the most part, a repeat of the format and comedy that made the first film such a cult classic. Hey if it ain’t broke…

There are weak points. This time round, Brick’s glorious stupid innocence all too often misses the mark and even worse is Wiig as Brick’s equally inept love interest. Wiig seems to play it like she’s in on the joke, which entirely deflates scenes that are already going flat, and both these actors deserve better. And, more importantly, so does the audience.

Happily, the audience generally gets much better, from the excruciating dinner party with Linda’s family (a classic of squirm-inducing writing) to a quite ludicrous subplot with a shark (which comes with its own musical number). When Anchorman 2 is good, it’s very, very good and when it is bad it might be horrid, but it’s very easy to forgive as you know there’s probably a belly laugh just around the corner.

EXTRAS ★★★★★ Now, this is how to put together a Blu-ray release. There are two discs here - thee first has the theatrical cut of the film (1:58:47), while the second has the longer Super-Sized Version (2:23:14) – which was also released in cinemas, a few weeks after the original, and features more songs and less shark. The bonus features on Disc One consist of: an audio commentary with producer Judd Apatow, cowriter/director McKay and cast members Ferrell, Carell Rudd and Koechner; the featurette Behind-The-Scenes: Newsroom (18:50); the two-part gag reel (14:50); the two-part Line-O-Rama (8:14); the featurette Welcome to the Dolphin Show (2:03), which sees Burgundy take on the crowd; the featurettte Catfight (1:49), which sees Applegate take on Good; the featurette News-O-Rama (2:28); the featurette Kench-O-Rama (1:40), a mashup of Kench Allenby’s most "Australian" moments; and the Cast Table Read (21:52), which does what it says on the tin – a table read of several scenes from the film. The extras on Disc Two are: a four-part Behind The Scenes featurette (46:16); eight deleted scenes (10:14); 25 extended/alternate scenes (1:31:01); CGI previsualisatiosn of three scenes – RV, Shark Attack and News Fight (8:47); three audition tapes (6:34); Benefit For 826LA: Spoiler Alert (3:39), a very funny song by Jack Black; and six trailers. Now THAT is a great-value package.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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