I enjoyed Will Ferrell’s first turn as Ron Burgundy, the foolish and pompous newscaster from the 1970s. In “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” he amplifies the inappropriate behavior and comments of his character to new levels of asinine conduct and stupidity. But real laughs are few and far between as many of the oddball comedy skits land with a thud on screen.
The razor-thin plot has a disgraced Burgundy being recruited in 1980 to work the graveyard shift at a fledgling 24-hour news channel. With his wacky crew in tow, he takes over the ultra late-night period covering car chases, fluff stories and assorted nonsense. All this is supposed to be a parody of our current 24/7 news cycle. But it plays out as way too childish and inane to be funny for adults.
Taking political incorrectness to new heights, he manages to insult and embarrass women and African-Americans in demeaning attempts at humor. The weird office romance between Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig is one of the few quirky bits that actually work. For the most part, this enterprise is an embarrassment for all involved.
2013 was such a good year for films, here are some I highly recommend and that hopefully, you will hear about come Oscar time:
“Mud,” “Dallas Buyers Club” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” showcase the ever-surprising acting chops of Matthew McConaughey. No longer just a pretty boy, he is fearless in passions that border on madness.
“12 Years a Slave” and “The Butler” are beautifully acted, painfully honest portrayals of slavery and civil rights in this country. They are history that should not be forgotten, lessons yet to be fully learned.
“This Is the End” is a raunchy comedy that pits celebrity egos against each other with the coming of Armageddon. Unrelentingly crude, it’s also the funniest movie of the year.
“The Way Way Back” is a quirky gem filled with smartly written insights on growing up and grownups. It made me laugh and cry and it made me want to see it again and again.
“Captain Phillips” and “All Is Lost” are high-intensity dramas on the high seas. The real-life tension of “Phillips” crackles and it’s the best performance of Tom Hanks’ career. And the silent adventures of Robert Redford in “Lost” may finally earn him a long-deserved Oscar.
“Prisoners” is another suspenseful story of kidnappings and the ripple effect on parents, the law and suspects. Haunting performances by Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal take this story a notch above those other “vigilante dad” films.
“About Time” is another sentimental story from Richard Curtis (“Love Actually”). Smiles, tears and time travel — what’s not to love?
And finally, there’s the screwball antics of “American Hustle” that gives us performances as big and bold as their hair, most notably Christian Bale. A tale of con artists on both sides of the law, it’s crazy good.
Happy New Year!
JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender’s office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator. SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.