Anchorman 2 is heading back to theaters on February 28 in an extended R-rated version called Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues: Super-Sized R-Rated Version that will be 20 minutes longer than the PG-13 version, containing 763 new jokes.
The film’s director and co-writer Adam McKay spoke to the New York Times about the decision to cut up Anchorman 2, stitch it back together, and give the film an extended theatrical release. “We started talking and realized, we can replace every single joke in the movie with another joke,” McKay said in a telephone interview with the Times on Tuesday.
When attempting to piece together an unrated version of the movie for its upcoming DVD release, McKay and the film’s editors discovered that the majority of the jokes could be removed and replaced with others without sacrificing the storyline. They had all this extra footage because of star and co-writer Will Ferrell’s heavily improvised technique, which resulted in him and the other comedians staying in character and cracking jokes during most of their time on set. “There are tons of leftover alternate takes when we shoot; that’s our method,” McKay said to the Times.
McKay said that the idea to release the raunchier version in theaters came from executives at Paramount. “It’s crazy,” McKay said. “Normally, you’d think I’d be the one asking for a new release.”
The first Anchorman movie was more warmly received by audiences than critics, scoring a 66 percent fresh rating among critics and a 87 percent audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Anchorman 2 flip-flopped that, scoring a 74 percent Fresh rating among critics and a 61 percent Fresh rating from viewers. But those mediocre ratings haven’t stopped the movie from raking in the dough. According to Box Office Mojo, as of February 2o, it has grossed $125 domestically.
Critics’ reviews of the Anchorman sequel were mixed. “While the underlying thread is sound (and more satirically substantial than its predecessor), the brickbat humour rings hollow, with the usual knob gags offset by a string of ill-judged ‘interracial intercourse’ japes as drawn out as they are old hat,” said the Observer’s Mark Kermode of the original PG-13 version.
“When is a movie fall-down funny even when some scenes fall flat on their fat ones? When it’s Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. That’s because from the moment Will Ferrell steps into the blazer of Ron Burgundy, the San Diego news anchor whose ego masks gargantuan stupidity and insecurity, I’m a lost cause to laughter,” said Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers, who acknowledges that the franchise is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing, and he happens to fall into the ‘love-it’ camp.
The extended release is more likely to appeal to die-hard fans of the funny cult franchise than your average moviegoer. If you can’t get enough of Burgundy and company, then the extended cut will likely please more than the watered-down PG-13 version. If you grew tired of the off-color humor sometime within the first two hours of either Anchorman film, then an extra twenty minutes and raunchier jokes aren’t likely to make it worth a second viewing.
“This is a stitched up, Frankenstein version,” McKay said of the R-rated extended cut hitting select theaters for a one-week run. “You should feel free to get up, go the bathroom.”
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues: Super-Sized R-Rated Version will face off at the box office against the new Liam Neeson thriller Non-Stop and the epic re-telling of the life of Jesus Son of God.
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