After ‘Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy’ became a cult film following its release in 2004, a sequel to the largely unfunny film was bound to come to fruition. Some 9 years later, Burgundy and his much loved team are back, bringing their loud, hackneyed humour with them.
What I liked most was its satirical edge at the beginning of the film. The Australian boss of GNN, which produces the new 24-hour news programme that Burgundy works for, is a clear reference to Rupert Murdoch. This allusion to the controversial figure is part of the film’s indictment of the triviality, sensationalism and bias that permeates so many of the world’s news sources, which for GNN is fluffy stories on cute dogs (excuse the pun), sensationalist coverage of car chases full of sheer speculation and jingoistic patriotism that creates the best line of the film – ‘Don’t have a great night, have an American night’
This is an interesting satirical core, a condemnation of what gets the highest ratings, however it is soon lost amidst the noisy absurdity and tired race jokes that are flat almost to the point of exhaustion. Absurdity can be great, I actually find the ridiculous rather funny, however there’s a fine line between humour that’s ridiculous and humour that’s just plain silly and annoying.
Ron Burgundy is almost like an Alan Partridge figure, with his dodgy style, intolerance and social ineptitude. The problem is that Burgundy’s a caricature and then some, one cannot believe in his character as there’s no subtlety or credibility whatsoever. Partridge is also a caricature, particularly in the second series and the recent film ‘Alpha Papa’, however there is enough restraint and superb writing to make him a hilarious and cringe worthy character in equal measure.
Of course, comedy is probably the most subjective genre of them all; some people love ‘Anchorman’, but it just leaves me cold. ‘Freddy Got Fingered’ is an example of where the ridiculous tickles me, however it’s understandably a very polarising film (with one pole having a far greater population than the other!)
To watch Freddy Got Fingered’s full 90 minutes is overwhelming, perhaps even quite terrible, but the insane gross out humour, such as Tom Green’s misinterpretation leading to him cutting open a deer carcass and wearing its skin or Green completely bowled over by the sight of a horse’s penis and numerous other scenes are so extreme and surprising that it makes me laugh like a drain. Also, Tom Green is funnier than Ron Burgundy, he’s genuinely weird.
‘Anchorman’ unfortunately doesn’t have this extremity, instead it has characters that are dull caricatures in the extreme and gags that are witless and crude yet neutered compared to the truly gross out humour of ‘American Pie’ or ‘Freddy Got Fingered’. I don’t claim these two to be benchmarks of the genre, particularly not the latter. I make the comparison as they’re roughly in the same realm as the Anchorman series.
‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues’ has satire; however it’s clogged up with tired comedy and an absurdity that’s seldom funny.