Film reviews: Anchorman 2 | Walking With Dinosaurs

IT HAS been nine years since the original Anchorman helped cement Will Ferrell’s status as a comedy colossus on cinema screens. In the years since, his film career has been a little bit patchy.

Will Ferrell, star of Anchorman 2. Picture: Getty
Will Ferrell, star of Anchorman 2. Picture: Getty


Starring: Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Christina Applegate, Kristen Wiig

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* * * *

There have been some sizeable hits, but rarely has Ferrell come close to scaling the deranged heights he reached as the obsolescence-fearing San Diego newscaster Ron Burgundy.

Given the way Ferrell has been immersing himself of late in the character to promote this belated sequel, however, one could be forgiven for thinking he might be masking his own fears that he’s reached his creative peak. Mercifully, he justifies the return, delivering a film with a high giggles-to-gags ratio, even if it does outstay its welcome by a good 30 minutes.

With the previous film mining the mahogany scented, polyester-suited pompousness of the 1970s for every bit of semi-ironic chauvinistic humour, the new film shifts to the 1980s, but Burgundy’s worldview is still as retrograde as ever. Having married Veronica Cornerstone (Christina Applegate), Ron has traded San Diego for New York, where he finds his dominance again under threat when his new boss promotes Veronica onto the primetime news and dumps Burgundy altogether.

After an inept suicide attempt, he finds salvation in a 24-hour news station called GNN, where he reteams with his idiotic posse of former Channel Four news veterans: Champ Kind (David Koechner), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and IQ-challenged weatherman Brick Tamland, again magnificently played by Steve Carell.

But Anchorman remains Ferrell’s show. As his change-resistant moron finds himself on the cusp of a new media format perfectly suited to his short attention span, he clashes with his African-American boss (Meagan Good), his prime-time rival (James Marsden) and, at one point, a shark. Sure, at times it’s as shapeless as some of the 1980s fashions, but Ferrell and Co inject an air of insanity into every scene. For the moment, at least, they’ve managed to make this particular brand of idiocy stay classy.

Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie (U)

Directed by: Barry Cook, Neil Nightengale

* *

SPUN off from the acclaimed BBC TV series that fused natural history programming with Jurassic Park-style digital effects, this big-budget movie might work as a sort of infotainment blockbuster for very young, dino-obsessed kids, but it doesn’t have much bite as an actual action adventure film. Framed by a contemporary live-action tale involving a paleontologist (Karl Urban) taking his niece and cynical nephew to visit a dinosaur site he’s been excavating, the film segues into a CGI-heavy dramatisation of the adventures of a young Pachyrhinosaurus called Patchi.

Patchi’s status as the runt of the herd pretty much guarantees that this will be another story about a hero with lots of heart proving that he has what it takes to lead after all. And so it proves, as the film’s inane script uses this by-the-numbers plotting as an excuse to bombard us digital dinosaur imagery. Alas, the whole thing has the whiff of an educational Christmas present gone wrong. Families looking to entertain the kids with a cinema trip over the silly season are advised to prioritise Frozen.

A Long Way From Home 12A

Directed by: Virginia Gilbert

Starring: James Fox, Brenda Fricker, Natalie Dormer, Paul Nicholls

* *

A GREAT cast does rubbish work in this forgettable tale of intergenerational Brits abroad from debut filmmaker Virginia Gilbert. Set in Nimes in the South of France, the film stars James Fox and Brenda Fricker as a retired couple whose move to sunnier climes hasn’t prevented their lives from descending into dull routine.

The couple rarely talk to one another, and with Fricker’s character, Brenda, frail and forgetful, 70-something Joseph (Fox) has little to stimulate him. That is, until he meets Suzanne (Natalie Dormer), a young British woman holidaying in the region with her partner, Mark (Paul Nicholls). Smitten with the 20-something, he begins a flirtation that reinvigorates him and raises in Suzanne doubts about her future with Mark. It’s slight stuff, with little at stake, and has none of the nuance or insight to be found in, say, Joanna Hogg’s work, which this superficially resembles. Nor is it helped that the actors are forced to spout dialogue so stiff it sounds as if the script has come from a radio play.