To be honest, I was a little disappointed when I first saw ANCHORMAN 2 in theaters. It was funny, but as with most highly anticipated sequels, didn't live up to the classic status of the first. There was a fair amount of fat in the two-hour runtime and the replication of jokes from the first movie only made the comparison between the two all the more obvious.
Surprisingly, the R-rated supersized version on this Blu-Ray, which adds an extra 20 minutes and replaces most of the jokes in the original movie, is much better. That's not typically the case with extended cuts, let alone a comedy that clocks in at 2 hours and 23 minutes, but this actually feels like an improvement. It removes or at least minimizes some of the gags and subplots that didn't work (Brick's romance, the shark), and adds in more unique zaniness and random jokes that make it a more fitting companion to its predecessor.
There are the obvious new additions, like a musical number about multicultural diversity and being gay, but mostly the supersized cut just throws in as much funny as it can. With a reported 763 new jokes, the sheer amount of gags and non-sequiturs is pretty much non-stop. And with an R-rating, they're able to take everything just a little bit further. ("Is Castro going to make me drink hot frothy horse piss?") As expected with the quantity vs. quality approach, there are hits and misses, but the overall mix is better in this version.
The plot is the same as the theatrical, as are the characters. The chemistry with the news team is still outstanding, with each actor bringing their various talents to shine. It might be Steve Carrell overload over the past decade, but Brick's shtick felt a little tired this time out and overpowered a lot of the theatrical version (probably due to Carrell's star power). Here, their screentime felt a bit more balanced (hooray for more David Koechner!), though I wish Christina Applegate had been featured more. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Brick's absolutely unnecessary romance angle with Kristen Wiig is still present, as is Ron and Veronica's annoying son. While they're more palatable here, neither element offers much to the film.
While I still don't think ANCHORMAN 2 will ever surpass the original in terms of laughs or rewatchability, this is absolutely the version I will watch from now on.
Even if you didn't like ANCHORMAN 2, there's probably still something for you on this mammoth Blu-Ray set. It contains three cuts: the theatrical version, the unrated theatrical version and the R-rated extended cut. And on top of that you've got over two hours of deleted/alternate scenes, plus the usual bonus material. This will easily be one of the most packed home video releases of the year.
Commentary by Adam Mckay, Judd Apatow, Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, and David Koechner: Available only on the extended cut, track actually provides a fair amount of detail about the making of the film. Given the group of people involved, I was shocked at how much they stayed focus to discuss the actors, bits that didn't make the cut and other trivia. Not to say it's not a funny, entertaining listen, but it's not as random and scatterbrained as you might expect.
Behind-the-Scenes: Newsroom (18:50): This hodgepodge of interviews and on-set stories covers a lot of ground. You get some abstract influences (TERMINATOR 2?), a bit on the physical making of the set, and even a look at James Marsden's original audition for Brian Fantana and Brick Tamland's roles.
Gag Reel (14:50): As the theme with this set, one gag reel isn't enough, so you get two—at almost 15 minutes in length! It's mostly the typical flubs and character breaks, though I will say Wiig and Carrell's riffing here is much funnier than what ended up in the final movie.
Line-O-Rama (8:15): An assortment of quick adlibs and one-liners from each of the actors. It's interesting to see which of the alternate takes missed the cut, since some are actually funnier than what they chose.
Welcome to the Dolphin Show (2:03): Some extra bits of Will Ferrell behaving badly in front of aquatic life at Sea World.
Catfight (1:50): Rowr! Christina Applegate and Meagan Good square off (verbally) in this extended take.
News-O-Rama (2:28): More of the same alternate takes, this time from the news desk.
Kench-O-Rama (1:40): Rapid-fire jokes feature's Kench Allenby's Australian billionaire.
Table Read (21:52): You get nine clips from the original cast readthrough, which gives a fascinating glimpse at the original script before all the adlibbing. I wish they would've included the entire table read, but that's just me being greedy.
Behind-The-Scenes (46:14): This in-depth Making Of breaks it down in to four parts; the original concept for the sequel (a musicalm with filmed test footage), a look at the CG-heavy RV sequence (one of the film's funniest parts), training a new Baxter and Doby the shark, and a enlightening glimpse at how they pulled together the climactic cameo-filled news fight. All are worth visiting.
Deleted Scenes (10:14): Seeing as there are three cuts of the film and these scenes didn't make it in any of them, you can imagine they're not very good.
Extended/Alternate Scenes (1:31:01): This is the piece de resistence of the Blu-Ray: An hour and a half of extra scenes and takes. It's a lot to go through, but for fans of the film, it's completely worth it. There's a lot of hilarious, crazy stuff that didn't make the cut, including an audio-only scene from Burgundy's blindness, and more with characters who were cut for time (Chris Parnell!). If McKay really wanted to, he could probably put together another version of the movie just using these. I would pay for it.
Previsualizations (8:47): Yes, they do pre-viz for movies like these too. See CG storyboards and test shots for the RV, shark attack and news fight sequences.
Auditions (5:27): You get to see Meagan Good's tryout for the sequel, plus two interesting auditions for the first ANCHORMAN: Dylan Baker for Ed Harkin and Amy Poehler for Veronica Corningstone. Really cool "what if" stuff.
Spoiler Alert (3:40: Filmed at a benefit screening of the movie, host Jack Black sings a song about how his character was not asked back for the sequel
There are also various Trailers and a DVD and Digital Copy of the film included.
After a slightly disappointing theatrical sequel, I'm happy to report that the "supersized" cut on the ANCHORMAN 2 Blu-Ray, is a much better follow-up to the 2004 comedy classic. And with so much great extra footage and cool stuff on this Blu-Ray, you'd have to be a real Brick Tamland to not pick this up.
Extra Tidbit: Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep were also rumored for cameos.