Beer or Box Office: ‘Anchorman 2: Super Sized ‘R’ Rated Version’

This movie review was originally commissioned by and written for USA TODAY COLLEGE in the winter of 2014. It was never published there, so it lives on, in full, un-copyedited glory, here. Enjoy. Photo found here.

Ron Burgundy, Will Ferrell’s beloved news anchor, returned to the big screen for “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” in December, but Burgundy and his Channel 4 News Team are coming back to theaters again for one week only from February 28 to March 7. Why, you ask? The re-release features 763 new jokes that didn’t make it into the original cut of the film.

These jokes earned the re-release its R-rating, which should come as no surprise to those who have enjoyed Ferrell’s humor over the years. The draw for this version of “Anchorman” isn’t the jokes (although most of the new ones are hilarious)—it’s the fact that the film got rereleased in the first place.

“We had such a bounty of riches that it was really difficult to decide what was going to go in this thing,” David Koechner (Champ Kind) told Rolling Stone in November. “We seriously made an effort and lobbied to ‘Kill Bill’ this movie and put it out in two parts, but it just didn’t work.”

“Anchorman” director Adam McKay also said that he had been mulling the idea of an alternate version of the film for a while, and that the improv-style of shooting impacted the way that the film was cut.

“I’m like, ‘Holy shit, man — we might have two movies here,’” he told Rolling Stone.

Some of the new jokes are pretty hilarious. Examples include a long riff from Ron to son Walter about how sometimes “the world makes you drink a giant frothing bowl of horse piss” and an entire musical number about global news and homosexuality that didn’t make it into the original cut. But aside from a few more uses of the f-word and a more explicit crack-smoking scene from the original cut, there’s not much that’s R-rated about this film.

The draw for many fans, then, will be seeing the same film with alternate takes. Imagine the alternate scene bonus feature on a DVD being edited together for a longer film.

This could be the future of comedy films. If they aren’t outright re-released with different takes, then the format could be taken to Pay-Per-View or midnight screenings. From a marketing standpoint, it’s a brilliant strategy: Pinpoint the target audience (In this case, “Anchorman” nerds like myself), and dangle the R-rated forbidden fruit in front of them. Then wait for the DVD/Blu-Ray release and hook the audience again. In today’s digital age where you can download, stream and rip everything from the Internet, this type of distribution is a new way of marketing, and “Anchorman” already did its fair share of marketing before the film even came out.

So is this new version of Anchorman worth it? It depends. If you enjoy anything related to Ron Burgundy and his Channel 4 News Team (like me), then you’ll buy a ticket at the drop of a hat. If you weren’t that impressed with the original version of the sequel, then you probably won’t be impressed by this version, either. It’s longer and has hundreds of new jokes, but it might seem a bit slow. But the concept behind the film’s release is intriguing enough, and it might catch on with future comedy films.

Verdict: Box Office, if you want to sneak a peek at what the future of comedy films might become.

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