Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (US - BD RA)
Jonathan claims that sixty percent of the time, this sequel works every time...
After losing his job to his wife and co-anchor, Ron reassembles the news team and squares off against a new rival. Will the world's greatest anchorman be crushed beneath the weight of his own ego (and his salon-quality hair)? (From the Paramount synopsis)
I enjoy the original Anchorman. It is one of those movies that was just pretty funny on the initial viewing, but over time and with repeated viewings it has become a fixture among me and my friends. I'm endeared to it the same way I am with the many dumb comedies I enjoyed as a child. I don't know anybody who heard about Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues and didn't feel cautious about it. Following up the original is no easy feat, and the film makers are tasked with that difficult balancing act of creating something fresh and new, but also reminding fans why they like this stuff in the first place. Luckily Adam McKay and team succeed more often than not. The story has enough new characters and material to sustain interest, and every now and then a joke lands incredibly well. Just be prepared to wade through many jokes that miss as well.
One unfortunate side effect of Anchorman's success is that it birthed a long line of what I will call line-o-rama comedies, many of which come from the Apatow production line. If you've ever seen a special feature with the name, you know what I'm talking about. Every scene in these movies is loaded with improvised lines and jokes, some of which make absolutely no sense. The hope is that you'll go along with the absurdity, and sometimes it works. The effect has lost its magic for me though, and it is at its worst in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. It has become way too easy to tell when a scene has gone into line-o-rama mode, and over time the increasingly random nature of these jokes has lost its appeal. What's worse is that it has made the characters interchangeable. It feels like fast and cheap attempts at gettings laughs, but the most nourishing comedy is built on characters.
The first disc of this Blu-ray set includes both the original theatrical cut and an unrated extended cut. This unrated cut follows the tradition we've seen with many comedies that make their way to DVD with an unrated version. There's a few extra bits and a few more bad words, but this is largely the same movie. But on the second disc of this Blu-ray set is the "super-sized R-rated version with 763 new jokes" that played in theaters, which is really a way of saying you will get extended or alternate sequences of improvised lines. I prefer Walk Hard's more self-aware extended title, Walk Hard: American Cox, The Unbearably Long, Self-Indulgent Director's Cut. If the random nature of the jokes were problematic for you in the theatrical cut, the problem is exacerbated here. It even goes as far as removing some of good jokes from the film (the "I Hate Mondays" bit is gone!) in favor of less funny, boorish ad libs. On the other hand, if you love that sort of thing, here is a longer cut of the movie where every scene has alternative jokes, so enjoy the feast. Just make sure you've seen the theatrical cut first.
Filmed on the Arri Alexa, this digitally shot comedy looks great in this 1080p transfer. Like most comedies, the picture has a warmer than natural look to it. Skin tones often appear overcooked, but sometimes it feels intentional like a fake tan appearance. Detail is extremely sharp. You can make out all the hairs in those marvelous mustaches. Colors pop and look very appealing, which you can observe in the deep blues of the Sea World scene near the start. Black levels feel a bit crushing at times, which I don't remember observing in the theater, but it is not a major issue. Some blocky compression artefacts are occasionally noticeable if you're really looking for them, but most of the time the image holds up extraordinarily well where some other digital transfers would fail; like the underwater footage. A lesser transfer would have noticeable issues here, but on this transfer we get smooth blue gradients and beams of light shining down from the water's surface.
Though it is a comedy, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues doesn't pull any punches in the production department. This is a clearly a movie with some money behind it, and that shows in how much more active the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is compared to other comedies. Right from the start the mix is alive with bustling streets. Throughout there are plenty of nice touches and ambient noise to make the news office environment feel alive. The choice of songs accompanying the film, from disco tunes to orchestral pieces, sound incredibly vibrant and fill in all of the surround channels nicely. The track gets most impressive during the big news fight toward the end, which strives to top the original Anchorman news brawl with a more ambitious scale, set of characters, and a busier location.
The huge list of extras kicks off on disc one with a Cast and Crew Audio Commentary, which includes Adam McKay, Will Ferrell, Judd Apatow, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, and David Koechner. As is usually the case with crowded comedy commentaries, this track is rarely on topic. The first few minutes are spent riffing about microphones while Harrison Ford's scene goes by without any comment being made on it, and that behavior continues for a good deal of it. For those looking for an informative commentary, you won't get it here, but listening to cast joke around together and fondly share stories about working on the movie is nice. When they are focusing on the movie, they are usually laughing and reminiscing on the actors they worked with.
Behind the Scenes: Newsroom (HD, 18:50) is a fun behind the scenes that focuses on the newsroom scenes in the movie. Adam McKay, Will Ferrel, and Paul Rudd get to talk to the camera and there is a lot of footage shown of them filming the news scenes. There is some goofy material here. They go on to talk about bringing James Marsden in to play Jack Lime, who auditioned for the role of Brian Fantana in the original Anchorman, but it went to Paul Rudd. The last bit of it gets into the technical stuff with some crew members. Next up is a Gag Reel (HD, 14:50), which you can watch in 2 parts or all at once if you can stomach fifteen minutes of gag reel footage. There are some good laughs buried in here, like Will Ferrel trying out a bunch of different exaggerated sneezes, or the kittens from Brian Fantanas photo shoot getting into a fight with each other. Much of this is footage of the cast members cracking each other up, and it is admittedly contagious.
Next up we have the cursed Line-O-Rama (HD, 08:14) which also comes in two parts. For some reason this kind of material is way more tolerable in a gag reel format. Seeing the exact same scene with quickly cut alternative line readings in sequence like this is just nauseating. Welcome to the Dolphin Show (HD, 02:03) is another line-o-rama for the dolphin show scene. Can't say it did much for me. Catfight (HD, 01:49) is, yup, more line-o-rama of the scene where Christina Applegate and Meagan Good's characters verbally assault each other. Do I even need to tell you what News-o-rama (HD, 02:28) is? This one I actually enjoyed a bit, since they are reading the lines in their proper news voices. Kench-o-rama (HD, 01:40) continues the trend, giving Josh Lawson's a chance to show off his different extreme Australian accents. The Table Read (HD, 21:52) featurette surprised me, because it shows you a large number of jokes from the movie that are actually scripted. There's nine scenes showed in table read form total.
On the second disc we start with a more traditional Behind the Scenes (SD, 46:16) extra that focuses on four specific things. There's Anchorman 2: The Musical, where the filmmakers talk about wanting to do a musical at one point, and some deleted musical footage they shot for this movie. Next up is RV, which is a fun look at RV crash scene and the effects work that went into it. Baxter and Doby, is ofcourse, a look at them working with animals on set. There's some adorable dog footage here. The last section is News Fight, which looks at the big battle between different stations. Next up is eight Deleted Scenes (SD, 10:14), which are thankfully actual deleted scenes. They aren't particularly good, but there are some chuckles here and there and I was thankful it was not more alternative/line-o-rama footage. But if you want that, next up is Extended/Alternate Scenes (SD, 01:31:01). Yeah, that's right. Another 90 minutes of it. Twenty-five scenes to be exact. Most of this is fluff. Scenes that were in the movie with just a bit of extra dialogue in them.
Finally out of alternative scenes and line readings to view, we have three Previsualizations (SD, 08:47) for the RV, shark attack, and news fight scenes. These are animatics which are kinda fun to watch, mostly for the silly 3D character designs. Baxter the dog looks especially amusing. Then there's some Auditions (SD, 06:34). One is your standard audition of Meagan Good reading for the role of Linda. The other two are pretty awesome. They are auditions from 2003 of Dylan Baker an Amy Poehler, reading for characters that ended up going to other actors. Baker reads for the part of Ed Harkin, which went to Fred Willard. Pohler reads for Veronica Corningstone. Benefit For 826LA: "Spoiler Alert" (SD, 03:39) is an amusing song performance from Jack Black where he sings dramatically about his biker character from Anchorman not being in the sequel. Lastly there are six different Trailers for the film in HD.
The legendary status of the original Anchorman makes it hard to not feel some disappointment in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. It was inevitable. Though some of the random humor feels more stale this time around, this sequel is consistent and funny enough to justify its existence, and fans of the original should find it well worth a rental at the very least. Paramount delivers a strong audio and video presentation on this Blu-ray release. There are more extras than I can imagine anyone ever wanting spread across this 3-disc set, but be warned that many of the listed special features are just more line-o-rama clips.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Jonathan Hogberg
Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13
Release Date: 1st April 2014
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: Audio Commentary, Behind the Scenes: Newsroom, Gag Reels Part 1 and 2, Line-O-Rama Part 1 and 2, Welcome to the Dolphin Show, Catfight, News-O-Rama, Kench-O-Rama, Table Read, Behind the Scenes, Deleted Scenes, Extended/Alternate Scenes, Previsualizations, Auditions, Benefit for 826LA: Spoiler Alert, Trailers, DVD Copy, Ultraviolet Digital Copy
Easter Egg: No
Director: Adam McKay
Cast: Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd
Length: 119 minutes
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