Hot pot of coffee! Sweet, sweet vinegar and bacon! In less than two months, Ron Burgundy and his news team will be back on the big screen in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, the most eagerly-anticipated comedy sequel since Three Men And A Little Lady. Yesterday saw the launch of not one but TWO final trailers for the movie, with an international trailer introducing us to Brian Fantana’s jimmy cabinet and the domestic version showcasing a heart-rending eulogy for Brick Tamland… by Brick Tamland.
Needless to say, we were all over this like Baxter on a wheel of cheese, so got Anchorman co-writer/director Adam McKay on the transatlantic blower and asked him to take us through the key moments of the international trailer. Take us to Pleasuretown, Mr McKay!
The trailer begins with a clip from an actual news broadcast – but not just any news broadcast. This is Richard Whitmore, former BBC anchor. Why start with a nod to Auntie Beeb?
“It starts off legitimate and then falls apart. That’s the idea. The BBC has a pretty good reputation. They’re known for not having heavy graphics and going too crazy. For a lot of people they’re the gold standard of respectable, decent news so I think that’s a good place to start. I know there are probably people in the UK who would laugh at that and I’m sure the BBC has warts as well, but compared to our media the BBC looks fantastic.”
The trailer shifts into a montage of clips that showcase how the quality of news reporting has declined over the decades, from a weatherman with a very graphic penis to a female reporter reporting a man’s obsession with cats ‘as more pussy than he knows what to do with’. We presumed these had all been shot for the movie. Not so.
“Those are all real. Oh yeah. Yeah, that’s real. The news is off the rails, completely and totally off the rails. It’s very hard to do. Fortunately we’re a bit of the prequel to that explosion in the sense that we’re showing how it happened in our movie but if we actually had to parody what’s going on right now in 2013, I don’t think it would be possible. Anything you can think of, they’ve done but back in the innocence of 79, 1980, 81, you can feel that line being crossed so we can play with that. To be able to go back to that moment and put Ron Burgundy in the centre of it was very enjoyable.”
Case in point. Brian Fantana presents a hard-hitting report on crack, a brand new drug that’s hitting the streets, culminating in an in-studio demonstration that has Ron declaring ‘it’s just refreshing!’
“In that exact moment it feels quite refreshing. There’s punitive ramifications. It doesn’t go well. It’s not pro-crack! We’ve talked about how cocaine in the 70s was viewed as not that big a deal. It’s fascinating to hear stories from people in the 70s who would just do cocaine casually and the idea is that these guys are so dumb that when crack comes around, they think ‘oh, big deal, a little pick-me-up’ and innocently stumble into it. We shot a whole chunk for it that’s not in the movie where Brian Fantana explained how he called the police and he called the federal government trying to find out if it’s legal or not and everyone hung up on him, so he assumes it’s legal. They’re going for it. Whatever boundaries they can push with their news, they’re going to do it."
This is our first look at one of the most high-profile cameos in the movie (of which we’re aware; we expect a few big names to remain hidden up until release). Yes, it's Harrison Ford as Mack Tannen – “a strong American name, old school” – a legendary anchor who’s less than impressed with Ron.
McKay: “He’s basically an amalgam of all the old titans of broadcast news here in the States, the Walter Cronkites, the Brinkleys, all those guys who gave off massive gravitas in an age where the news was pretty serious business and those who reported the news viewed themselves as the fourth estate of government, and it was their sacred duty to monitor the powers that be. The exact opposite of Ron Burgundy, basically. Harrison has a couple of scenes in the movie. We went down the list of people we wanted and he was right at the top of the list, with that deep voice and how he just takes his time. He doesn’t hurry for anybody, he just radiates that kind of power and then the 12 year old in me was doing backflips that it was Han Solo and Indiana Jones. I couldn’t believe it. It’s a great combination!”
Here, we see Veronica Corningstone – Ron’s co-anchor and wife – outstripping Ron, bagging an interview with Yasser Arafat much to Ron’s disgust.
McKay: “There’s no way Ron Burgundy’s pride can handle that so it decimates their relationship and the work situation and he, of course, is a complete child about it. It’s all in the first 5-10 minutes of the movie. There’s a big prologue at the beginning of the movie. It’s been so long since we did the other one, let’s set the groundwork and then the movie can begin.”
And here we meet the man to whom Veronica turns for succor – Greg Kinnear’s Gary.
McKay: “Ron is quite shocked to discover that Veronica’s moved on. Gary’s the most likeable guy your wife could be dating after you guys split up, that was the idea. He’s a great guy, the most fantastic guy. We’ve loved Greg Kinnear forever.”
Having confronted feminism in the original, Anchorman 2 will see the news team broaden their horizons further. Ron embarks on a relationship with his new African-American boss, Linda Jackson (Meagan Good), while here the news team – at their new HQ, GNN – are confronted with a gay colleague, played with admirable patience by Matthew Stanton.
“He was in Talladega Nights but his scene got cut out," says McKay. "He’s a day player from Atlanta and I completely forgot who he was and innocently cast him in this. I thought, that guy’s really good and he came up to me like, you don’t remember me, do you? He was a fan in Talladega Nights but didn’t make the final cut. He’s awesome, though.”
Here’s the bad news – again, Matthew Stanton didn’t make it. This scene has been cut from the movie. “It’s a really funny scene but it was connected to this larger thing that was really long and high in the second act and it kept stopping our momentum,” explains McKay.
But here’s the good news. The movie is locked at one hour and 53 minutes (“the longest one we’ve ever done”), but there was enough raw material shot to make another movie in its entirety. And that’s what McKay wants to do; although this one won’t just be Wake Up Ron Burgundy 2, if he has his druthers. “We did so much improv on this one that we can literally replace every single joke in the movie and put in alt scenes and alt improv runs. I think the editor’s working on it right now, with 250 new jokes. I think it would be really funny to put it in theatres for midnight showings. I know that I personally, if I loved a movie and someone told me that, like if Airplane! had been released with all-new jokes, I’d be like, ‘you’ve got to be fucking kidding me!’ I’d see it in a second.”
With Ron’s RV – or the ‘Bago, as he calls it – on cruise control, Ron takes the boys into the back for some chimichanga from his deep fat fryer. But things go horribly wrong, with a car crash throwing the news team into close contact with bowling balls, scorpions and boiling oil…
“Ferrell and I were laughing so hard. A working deep fryer in a moving vehicle? That is a bad idea! That was a fun game writing it too. What would be the worst objects to be in a car crash with? We had straight razors at one point and played around with the idea of weasels, but when you get down to it, scorpions and bowling balls and hot oil, it’s tough to touch that.”
This scene, in which Steve Carell’s Brick Tamland – sporting an unusual pair of green slacks – encounters a greenscreen weather map for the first time almost didn’t happen at all. And don’t worry – there’s an explanation for Brick’s trousers that we won’t spoil, but which is very funny.
“Will and I had put it in an earlier draft and taken it out. Then we started shooting and Will and I looked at each other and said, ‘are we crazy? Why aren’t we shooting this?’ It’s a bit of an old joke, the greenscreen joke, but we knew that with Brick we could do new stuff with it. We basically improvised it and the second we shot it, I thought, this is going to blow crowds away. Steve was like, ‘are you sure?’ And sure enough it’s one of the most muscular laughs in the movie. It just pulverizes.
In a scene that’s a direct callback to the Sex Panther scene from the first movie, Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) introduces the boys to his personal collection of prophylactics.
“Brick has his first date ever. He’s extremely scared and confused and doesn’t know what a date is. And the guys are going to talk him through it and let him know how to treat a lady. As you might imagine, the advice is not so great. Part of the advice is you’re gonna need protection and they go through some options for him.“
Among the options presented to Brick: The Rigid Ghost (“that may be my favourite”), The Gentle Mongoose and Lou Dobin’s Good Time Wiener Pouch. “You’ve got good eyes!” laughs McKay. “Our props department came up with a rash of really funny ones. You’ll see it in the alt version. You could cut a 25-minute version of that scene, without exaggeration. We chewed and chewed on that. I realize that’s not the best reference to say in regards to condoms. I don’t know if there are any good word choices when you’re around something so directly phallic.”
Currently McKay is battling the MPAA over the movie’s rating, with the director struggling to keep this scene from becoming one of the casualties. “The MPAA is giving us a really hard time so we had to cut quite a few. It’s been frustrating,” he says. “You just say the word ‘condom’ and they start freaking out. It’s like the 1950s, it’s crazy.”
And, in this shot from the domestic trailer, we see Ron Burgundy – on what looks like the coldest day ever (“it was a legendarily miserable night,” laughs McKay) – nursing a baby shark back to health.
“That happens! There’s a little bit of a Born Free storyline going through parts of the movie. And that’s one of ‘em. He tries to nourish a baby Great White Shark and it’s in bad way and it needs his help and his love and he’s there to provide it.”
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is out on December 20