26 August 2010 | slokes
Here Now The Outtakes
Could "Anchorman" have been funnier had it been allowed to stretch itself out beyond the two-hour limits of a commercially-minded comedy? Here's a chance for us "Anchorman" lovers to find out.
In "Wake-Up Ron Burgundy", we see San Diego's Channel 4 news team in action once again. Ron (Will Ferrell) struggles with love and jealousy as co-anchor Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) achieves her dream of big-time success. Meanwhile, their little world is threatened by the emergence of the incompetent but very radical terror cell who calls themselves "The Alarm Clock". When Veronica is captured by this gang, it's up to Ron and his buddies to save the day.
No use getting too excited about that long-discussed "Anchorman" sequel: This is strictly outtakes from the first movie, with some clever editing disguising the fact that Ron and Veronica are meeting here once again for the first time. Better you think of this as an alternate-reality "Anchorman" than a real sequel.
Narrator Bill Kurtis puts it in perspective in his opening narration. What we are about to see, he explains, is "the chaff from the wheat, the skim from the milk, the pudding from the all-you-can-eat lobster buffet, and the surgeon guy from Prince and the Revolution."
What "Wake-Up" really is is a chance to see Ferrell and his co-writer/director Adam McKay working even more of their creepy-funny comedy vibe. Scenes in "Anchorman" could stretch on a bit, but made their point. Here, they stretch on beyond that point, then stretch further.
Ron needs a moment to compose himself on-air while reading a tender story about a Japanese devil owl, then another, and then another. "A lot of emotion here," he says, tearing up.
A creepy mentor figure, Jess Moondragon (Chad Everett) pops up to offer no meaningful advice for Ron, but plenty of lustful rumination on what he'd like to do to Mother Nature - "things you can only do in Bangkok."
Such scenes work as goofier riffs on ideas from the first film, but with a rub. Watching Ron and Veronica's awkward first date a second time isn't so killer with a long sequence showcasing Ron's driving skills replacing his mastery of the jazz flute.
Because it's all outtakes, however skillfully put together, there's story gaps galore and rehashed gags from the first movie with slightly different blocking. The Alarm Clock angle works in bits, but is too thin to serve as a framing device. The character build-up that made "Anchorman" so immersive is shortchanged here. Most of that made the first film.
Fans of Champ Kind (Dave Koechner) will enjoy the wild man acting even wilder here; one moment he's a raving homosexual, five minutes later he's a raging cannibal. Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) lunches on used coffee filters. In addition to Everett (his send-up of the serenely sleazy Moondragon aided by a strong late-career resemblance to Clint Eastwood), there's a brief killer cameo from Stephen Root as a fill-in anchor.
Like I said, it's all sweet stuff if you're an "Anchorman" lover. But it's definitely not the sleeper classic "Anchorman" has become. It's definitely more self-indulgent in its humor and fitful in its direction. "Wake-Up" shows that in addition to being frightfully clever, the people behind "Anchorman" had a lot of sense in where to trim.