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"Anchorman 2" fun, but all over the place

"Anchorman 2" fun, but all over the place

I confess that I have been floored by comic actor Will Ferrell's improvisational skills for years. So, I confess that I was excited about Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. More importantly, I have been more impressed with that film's director, Adam McKay who has worked alongside Mr. Ferrell on the previous Anchorman film, the Funny or Die website and of course on TV's  Saturday Night Live. One need only look at the VH1 Behind the Music: Blue Oyster Cult, Neil Diamond, Robert Goulet orJeopardy host Alex Trebek send-ups to see that both Mr. Ferrell and Mr. McKay thrived on  SNL for years. Additionally, for those who ever viewed the SNL film sketch "The H is O" sketch with Mr. Ferrell, his then-fellow cast members Horatio Sanz, Jimmy Fallon and special guest actor Ben Stiller, I knew that these people had a bright future ahead of them about 14 years ago.

My feelings made me want to get somewhat in on the action when the Anchorman sequel was shot here in Atlanta earlier this year as an extra. Indeed it would have been nice to see myself in the background, but most likely I would never see the light of day in the final cut. I simply wanted to witness how a scene comes together on a major film production. The shoot for the scenes went on for 12 hours. The hundreds of us were so weary at one point, both Mr. Ferrell and one of his co-stars David Koechner, entertained us to all of our delight. Being an extra for a bit of some chump change from the studio and "working" a long day, seeing Mr. Ferrell and Mr. Koechner in the flesh was worth the price of "admission."

My teen daughter has been a  Will Ferrell fan for quite some time. Perhaps it's because I took her to see his films at a rather young age. So, I did the "extra work" for my daughter to report back to her what it's like to see Will Ferrell live. My biggest regret is that she wasn't there at the shoots with me to witness Mr. Ferrell's genius live. Fellow cast mates Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and Christina Applegate were present, but on that evening, they were rather quiet. I was impressed by how much of a thrill Will Ferrell gets out of live performing.

Thusly, we had to see Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues basically before the minute it was released. Just like the film's predecessor, my daughter simply loves the sequel. While I enjoyed the original, I wasn't overly impressed with the sequel. Perhaps it's because the scenes in which I was present, I witnessed far more hilarious moments that ended up on the cutting room floor - or in this case, the computers' trash bins. While Mr. Ferrell and Director Adam McKay build a storyline before going in to shoot, much of what they do while shooting is improvisation. While the actors and crew hustle to work on the scene, Mr. McKay is in the back on a mic feeding the actors' extra lines and blocking information to crew members. As a former head writer for TV's Saturday Night Live, Adam McKay knows a thing or two about throwing out hilarious lines on the spot. I would say between the two scenes in which I attended, about two to three minutes ended up in the theatrical release.

'Anchorman 2' received generally decent reviews, but the common criticism from reviewers is that the film was all over the place with a convoluted storyline. I would add that the film goes on 30 minutes too long and did not need some subplots like Brick Tamland -- Steve Carell's character -- having a love interest with Chani, actress Kristen Wiig's character. In addition to Ms. Wiig, too many cameos are thrown in for no reason. To me, the cameos throw the film even more out of focus.

'Anchorman 2' could have been so much better, but Director Adam McKay chose to go the more unfocused ridiculous route. The film has made quite a bit of cash so who am I to argue with success? I must state that Will Ferrell, Steve Carell and Paul Rudd have displayed their acting chops in far better films that never received the notices that they deserved. For Mr. Ferrell, I enjoyed his performance in 2005's Winter Passing with Ed Harris and Zooey Deschanel. The Adam Rapp film shows both Mr. Ferrell and Ms. Deschanel can deliver great performances despite having resumes filled with a number of rather silly roles. For Mr. Carell, I go with 2007's Dan in Real Life. Steve Carell works beautifully with Juliette Binoche in this Peter Hedges vehicle. Recently I came across a lesser-known 2013 Paul Rudd film titled Prince Avalanche. This slower-paced David Gordon Green film is a character study set in the aftermath of a 1987 Texas wildfire. Paul Rudd is brilliant in this drama set against a damaged backdrop where beauty struggles to emerge over the ugliness of a charred landscape.

I know many will disagree with me when I say that I hope the Anchorman franchise will end after this sequel and those involved will go on to more notable projects. Still, the film is a hit so studio execs who will most likely green light a third 'Anchorman.' My question is where do they go next time?'Anchorman 2' was all over the place with its time references. The film is supposed to stay in 1980, but many of its references like live TV car chases, infotainment and graphics burying the talent, did not happen until years later. So I still argue to put this thing to rest.

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