Longer, funnier and even more outrageous than the original, the R-rated re-release of “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” can either be seen as an exercise in narcissism or a unique treat for “Anchorman” fan boys. Clocking in at two hours and 23 minutes, it is certainly not for those with short attention spans. The R-rated “supersized” (as the film’s marketing team dubs it) version of the film barely earns its R-rating, featuring a few extra f-bombs and other profanities. However, it includes essentially all new dialogue, while still hitting the major plot points of the original release.
It rids itself of the original version’s unnecessary and unfunny shark sequence, replacing it with a much wittier musical number about being a member of the LGBT community in the workplace. Brian Fantana’s (Paul Rudd) condom sequence is prolonged and more hilarious than in the original. The scene in which the news team smokes crack while live on the air is also extended, which results in the film’s funniest sequence. Even the loud and bombastic Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), a much-maligned complaint of the original version, is more tolerable in the re-release. This version allows the audience to see the actors engage in more improvisation, which is where they generate comedic gold. However, due to this haphazard style of ad-libbing, the structure and pacing of the original “Anchorman 2” can be further appreciated. It becomes blatantly evident why scenes were cut in the manner depicted in the film’s original release. While the R-rated version is holistically funnier, it is often meandering and sloppy. During the film’s climax, Ron Burgundy’s (Will Ferrell) son is playing the piano in a recital. The film cuts away to another location. When it cuts back to Burgundy’s son, what are clearly an old man’s hands have replaced those of the young boy. It is an obvious and undoubtedly intentional gaffe of the filmmakers, as cinematic perfection is not director Adam McKay’s goal. He is fearlessly pushing the boundaries of his comedy and is providing the “Anchorman” faithful with what will likely be the last version of any “Anchorman” film ever released in theaters. For those fans, this version of “Anchorman 2” can be enjoyed more so than the original theatrical release because of its unexpectedness, which reprieves the film of the elevated expectations of the original “Anchorman 2.” It need not concern itself with living up to the unreachable standards of the first “Anchorman” because it was never intended for theatrical release. Thus, it is a pleasant surprise for the hardcore fanbase. I repeat, hardcore fanbase. Those who did not appreciate the original “Anchorman 2” should not see this version, as it would only be an exercise in futility and masochism. To those who are not die-hard fans of the franchise, the film will appear as nothing more than pulpy excess. While the dialogue is almost entirely original, the same style of humor and ostentatiousness is present within the re-release. The oft-criticized aspects of the original “Anchorman 2” are only intensified in the R-rated version. Ultimately, McKay has crafted a vibrantly and entertainingly fresh interpretation of “Anchorman 2” for his most pure and loyal fans, one that can be enjoyed sans the subtext of comparisons to the first “Anchorman.”