Breaking news for fans of "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues:" It's back!
Actually, the Will Ferrell sequel from December hasn't even left theaters, but here comes the "Super Sized R Rated Version." Playing for a one-week run ending Thursday, it's more than a half-hour longer than the first film and purportedly contains 763 new jokes.
It's nearly a whole different movie, though not necessarily a funnier one. It's still set in the easily-spoofable year of 1980, and the plot, in which blow-dried anchorman Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) leaves his increasingly successful wife, Veronica (Christina Applegate), to join a 24-hour cable news network, remains the same. Rounding out the main cast once again are Paul Rudd as the ladykilling reporter Brian Fantana, Steve Carell as the reality-challenged weatherman Brick Tamland and David Koechner as the unhinged sportscaster Champ Kind.
What's changed are the incidental jokes and ad-libs, plus a couple of new set pieces. The results are about the same as in the first version: pretty funny, not gut-busting. But it's often clear why writer-director Adam McKay didn't use this material in the first place.
For starters, the cumulative profanity would have meant an R rating, though without any real raunchiness as a payoff. (Don't look for any Farelly Brothers-level humor here.) Some of the new sequences wear thin fast, particularly Burgundy's inappropriate conversations with his wide-eyed young son (Judah Nelson).
Elsewhere, the jokes simply fall flat. The musical numbers "Big World" (a spoof of American insularity) and "Gay For a Day" (no explanation needed) are amusing but never quite score a bull's-eye.
Mostly, the new "Anchorman 2" is a series of trade-offs. Ferrell's supporting players -- all fast, fierce improvisers -- get more screen time, and it's great to hear them riff on whatever bizarre topics (breast implants, condoms, somebody's mom) happen to come up. There is, however, still plenty of what didn't work the first time, including the sniggering gags about Champ Kind's latent homosexuality, Burgundy's jive-talk around his black girlfriend (Meagan Good) and an oddly uninspired Kristen Wiig as Chani Lastnamé, Brick's blinkered love-interest.
The new "Anchorman" is essentially a home-video bonus disc that happens to be in theaters. "Isn't that worth your fourteen bucks?" asks the movie's narrator. Only Burgundy's biggest fans would say yes.