Verdant and accordant hedge
When I first saw the trailer for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, I made up my mind that I would not go to see it. I just couldn’t see how it would be able to top 2004’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. It’s been nine years, after all. I resigned my continuation with the drama of Ron Burgundy and Veronica Corningstone’s tumultuous, and ultra competitive relationship, to the DVD release. At which time, I would be able to place a hold on the movie at my local library, save my money, and avoid the hype. The build up to Anchorman 2 has included everything from Will Ferrell appearing as Ron Burgundy to pitch the new Dodge Durango, to writing a book as Ron Burgundy titled Let Me Off at the Top!: My Classy Life and other Musings. He even appeared as Ron Burgundy on a Bismarck, North Dakota, local news broadcast, and co-anchored the entire show. I’ll admit that promo gimmick made me chuckle. After all, Will Ferrell is a master of improvisation. But Wednesday, when the movie opened in theaters, I caved to the pressure. The legend continues.
It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about a movie that I’ve seen. So I figured, going into Anchorman 2, I would write something about the new Adam McKay sequel. But on arrival to the movie theater, my instinct told me I might end up writing as much, if not more, about the theater itself. I’m new to the Lake Worth, FL, area. So when I did a search on moviefone.com for the nearest theaters showing Anchorman 2, I settled on Movies of Lake Worth located at 7380 Lake Worth Road. Tickets were listed as $7.00 for adults. The other theater in Lake Worth advertised their ticket prices as $8.50 for adults. This was an easy choice.
Movies of Lake Worth is located in a shopping plaza. It’s very unassuming, evidenced by the marquee which plainly displays the word “Movies” in full view. The ticket booth employee greeted me warmly when I stepped up to the glass window. “Anchorman 2 for 1:15pm please,” I proffered while sliding my debit card through the opening in the window. “Okay, but it’s cash only.” Her retort confused me. The last time I frequented a movie theater that accepted cash only was back in the mid 1990’s. In fact, that theater may have also accepted debit and credit cards, but I would have never thought to use either or, because it was a $1.00 movie theater. I backed away from the counter, and remembered that I had cash with me as well. I gave the attendant a $10.00 bill, and she gave me $4.00 back and a ticket stub. Apparently the matinée cost of a ticket is only $6.00. That’s a great price! The ticket stub did not have Anchorman 2 printed on it. It just said Cinemas: Admit One.
I walked into the theater and decided to get a soda. “What kind of sodas do you have for sale?” “We have Diet Dr. Brown’s,” the woman behind the concession stand answered. Her reply befuddled me. “I’m sorry, could you repeat that? What type of sodas do you have?” “Diet Dr. Brown’s.” At first I convinced myself that she had merely made a mistake and meant to say Dr. Pepper. But no, she had not made a mistake. I have never heard of Dr. Brown’s soda before. Maybe it’s because I’m from the Midwest. In fact we say “pop” and not “soda” in the Midwest. But apparently Dr. Brown’s has been around since 1869, as it clearly states on the can. So what do I know? “Okay I’ll take a Diet Dr. Brown’s please.” She handed me the “naturally flavor black cherry soda with other natural flavors” housed in a pink can, and I handed her $2.50. Just about that time, as I was turning with my soda in hand to walk into the theater showing Anchorman 2, an elderly woman addressed a man, who looked like he was the manager of the movie house. “Excuse me sir, could you tell them that the sound is turned down way too low in our movie?” Then it occurred to me that most of the movie goers around me were about the age of approximately 65-75. The manager turned toward her. “Which movie is it?” “12 Years a Slave,” the elderly woman replied. “The sound is always low at the beginning of the movie.” “Oh, okay,” she said, seeming to have accepted that rationale for the inaudible audio in her showing. Seconds latter a senior couple passed by me on their way to their movie. “What’s Anchorman?” “It’s a radio broadcast film,” the man said to his wife. “Oh, I see,” she said after hearing his confident answer to her question.
As is my normal routine when I go to see a movie, I headed over to the restroom after locating my theater. I hate it when nature calls during the climax of a movie I just paid to see. I entered the men’s room, through a walkway which seemed to be designed to evoke feelings of being backstage in a Broadway theater, in the dressing room of the actors. The gentleman next to my stall had just finished as I began, and was tapping down on the flush handle unsuccessfully. He let out a frustrated sigh that felt incriminating to my generation, as if to say, “they don’t make them like they used to,” and “that’s what’s wrong with this country.” As he exited, I pushed down on my flush handle. The water trickled down sparingly and reluctantly. I walked over to the sink, and as I washed my hands, I saw another gentleman behind me using the toilet. The door was open. He was standing with his back to me, with one hand operating his cell phone pressed to his ear, and his other hand…well, you get the picture. I’m always tickled by people who are so busy that they have to talk on their cell while urinating. The phone call was obviously pressing to the point where he didn’t care that the person on the other end of the phone, like me, could hear the splashing. If Anchorman 2 failed to deliver the guffaws I’d paid for, I could always think back to the laughter I was now suppressing in the men’s room.
When I exited the restroom and walked into the theater, I again was transported to the mid 1990’s. The theater was very similar to those cinema theaters of the 1990’s-narrow and flanked by two columns of seats on each side, with about six or seven seats in each row. There was only one way in and one way out. There was only one aisle. The sound of the projector could be heard in silent pauses during the movie. Faint traces of those squiggly black lines that surface every half second, in all directions, on every inch of the screen, could be detected. Visually, those squiggly lines are equivalent to the scratching sounds of vinyl records, which I particularly enjoy from a nostalgic point of view. There were only five people in the movie theater. I was the youngest person, and I would venture to say that there were a good three decades of age difference between me and the other people in the theater. One gentleman had a walker. I was curious to see how the other movie goers would respond to the raunchy, racist, sexist, crude, low-brow, comedy signature to the Anchorman franchise. Approximately thirty minutes later, I got my answer. No one had laughed out loud, except for me, and one woman walked out of the theater. This only intensified the humor of the socially unacceptable antics of Ron Burgundy, Brian Fantana, Champ Kind, and Brick Tamland.
Without spoiling the movie, I’ll just say that walking into the movie I was sure that Anchorman 2 would not be as funny as the first Anchorman. Upon leaving the theater after the movie was over, I was no longer sure that Anchorman 2 was not the funnier movie. The battle of the sexes and glass ceiling theme of the first Anchorman movie, created the kind of archetype awkward tension between Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), that supplied a perfect, seemingly unending stream of hilarious scenarios. In Anchorman 2, the theme switches to the presence of African-Americans in the workplace. Meagan Good plays Ron Burgundy’s boss Linda Jackson. The tension between Linda Jackson and Ron Burgundy is brought on by the sexually aggressive seduction of Burgundy by his boss (Meagan Good is as sexy as ever on-screen). This conflict coupled with the taboo of interracial sex in the 1970’s and 1980’s is an ordeal ripe for hilarity. Both Ferrell and Good excel at making the most of this comedic opportunity. The other themes of what is news, and what is not news, and too much news, supply a concrete foundation for the jokes that follow. And as if that’s not enough, there’s also Baxter, the irresistibly funny dog and faithful companion of Ron Burgundy. Baxter is hands down, the funniest dog to ever appear in film.
When the movie ended, the three or four other people still left in the theater made their way out. I stayed put in my seat, just in case there was an extra scene at the end hinting at an Anchorman 3 movie. There was not. The silver-haired gentleman with the walker passed by me. I nodded out of respect. I guess if you’re of a certain age, you can sit through Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues and not laugh even once. Perhaps you can even enjoy the movie and not laugh once. But not me. I wiped tears of laughter away from my eyes on two occasions. I laughed hysterically, yet subdued, under my breath, releasing only a few decibels of chuckles during the funniest scenes, out of deference for the other people in attendance. I didn’t want to ruin their movie experience. Even though through the whole movie, I wanted to stand up and yell at the top of my lungs, “Are you seriously not finding this to be the funniest shit you’ve ever seen?”