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Article by Teddy Durgin

Anchorman 2: Stay Crass-y, Mr. Burgundy

"Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" moves the exploits of boorish, hard-drinking, chauvinistic news anchor Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) from 1970s San Diego to 1980s New York City. The sequel was clearly shot on the streets of modern-day Manhattan, and I'm surprised Mayor Bloomberg didn't try to get script approval. Bloomberg is notorious for hiking his city's tobacco taxes to stratospheric heights, extending a citywide smoking ban to all commercial establishments, implementing a trans fat ban in restaurants and proposing to ban the sale of sodas and other sweetened drinks of more than 16 ounces. By contrast, Burgundy and his loyal news crew of polyester-wearing reprobates are men who are often seen emerging from clouds of smoke. No one's going to tell them they can't eat the fattiest burger possible or drink the largest size cola they can get their hairy, gold-adorned paws around. The appeal of these retro characters is, of course, in the exaggeration. Ron Burgundy not only loves the times he lives in, he IS the times he lives in. The follow-up finds Burgundy and his wife, co-anchor Veronica (Christina Applegate), having moved to the East Coast with dreams of succeeding legendary news anchor Mack Harken (Harrison Ford) on the national level. I actually wasn't a big fan of the first "Anchorman" movie. I thought it was amusing in spots. But there are many, many people who think it's one of the funniest movies ever made and certainly Ferrell's best. Surprise of all surprises, though, I actually liked "Anchorman 2" a LOT more! Oh, it's still crass, coarse and as wildly uneven as the first film is. But this one is surprisingly intelligent in its commentary about how the 24-hour news channels of today have corrupted broadcast journalism - and, by extension, the world - to an inescapable degree. As the film opens, Burgundy has been passed over for Mack Harken's chair in favor of... yikes... Veronica! This is immediate grounds for divorce, and Ron descends into heavy drinking. He is rescued by a job offer to be one of the anchors on GNN, a first-of-its-kind, round-the-clock news network set to launch in New York. Ron quickly re-assembles his old news team - bigoted sportscaster Champ (David Koechner), hare-brained meteorologist Brick (Steve Carrell) and sex-crazed reporter Brian (Paul Rudd). The crew, though, is dismayed to learn they have been given the graveyard shift of 2 a.m. to 5 a.m., while hotshot news stud Jack Lime (James Marsden) has scored the coveted primetime slot. Ron and the guys quickly start devising strategies to garner ratings and come up with gimmicks such as doing overtly patriotic stories and showing live footage of police cars in high-speed pursuit - two staples of today's all-day/all-night news cycles. When the film is focused on skewering the culture vultures of Fox News and MSNBC, it is spot-on, quite clever and very funny. Unfortunately, Ferrell and director Adam McKay let their movie drift into sequences that play like little movies within movies, but add little to the film as a whole. There is an extended bit involving Ron Burgundy going blind that goes on too long. And an oddball romance between Brick and Kristen Wiig's weird, introverted receptionist never quite works and feels almost completely ad-libbed. All is forgiven, though, with a battle royale climax that involves a bevy of big-name stars having a ball playing some very broad characters. I beg you. Do NOT go on this film's Internet Movie Database page because it spoils too many of the HUGE stars who cameo here. Believe me, you'll want to be surprised. And, remarkably, every single one of these stars comes to play. And that's really what "Anchorman 2" is all about. It's about play. Ferrell and friends are clearly having a blast here, and it's not to the exclusion of the viewers. Ron Burgundy might be one big joke. But we're in on that joke.

"Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language, some drug use and comic violence.


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