Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues — 5/10

ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES (2013, Adam McKay)

Listen to any interview with Adam McKay and you will do a double take at how insightful, intelligent, and heavily politically-minded he is. As the director of low-brow, dumbed-down goofs like TALLADEGA NIGHTS and STEP BROTHERS (which are still funny, but not exactly clever), you might think he’s a philistine frat boy — but as THE OTHER GUYS’s political corruption subplot proves, he has subversion on his mind. Never has that instinct been so bald as it is here: he spends most of ANCHORMAN 2’s bloated 2-hour running time (and boy does it drag — people complain about THE WOLF OF WALL STREET’s three hours, but this movie feels twice as long) slaughtering the Fox Newsification of cable news in general. In a series of heavy-handed setpieces, McKay and his Ferrell-led team of loud actors tear into the 24-hr coverage infecting television today — car chases, too many graphics, lurid stories, celebrity culture, pointless lists (Paul Rudd’s “#2 vagina of all time” is Madam Curie’s), etc. — and as obvious as it is, it’s the funniest thing about the movie.

I tend to be in the minority about the other comedy here, the stuff on the fringes. Steve Carell doesn’t make me laugh when he makes funny faces or laughs loudly (though his delivery of the line “Want to go to a date?” did), and Will Ferrell’s lazy improv-ish recipe of Obscure Name+Scatalogical Reference=Joke (e.g. “Tony Danza’s scrotum!” “By the bedpan of Bea Arthur!” etc.) is repetitive and shallow. He uses too many crutches and not enough smarts. But if people like that stuff, cool. I mean, I go for Danny McBride (star of Ferrell and McKay’s terrific show Eastbound & Down) so who am I to judge dick jokes.

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