Geoff Cox’s DVD reviews: Anchorman 2, American Hustle

Anchorman 2
Anchorman 2

It’s been a decade since Will Ferrell created arrogant newsreader Ron Burgundy in Anchorman.

The legend finally continues with comedy sequel ANCHORMAN 2 (15: Paramount), another rib-tickling tale of the moustachioed misogynist’s pioneering work in 24-hour news.

And even if Burgundy has lost a bit of shock value, the craziness still feels current.

Ron is estranged from his wife – and news rival – Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) and is thrust into the arms of a New York network executive (Meagan Good) and her fledgling rolling news channel.

Ferrell delights in flouting political correctness and Ron’s bouts of verbal diarrhoea are still eccentrically enjoyable.

There’s also great banter with old cohorts Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), Champ Kind (David Koechner) and witless weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell).

Ferrell’s penchant for silliness is at its best early on through the satirical swipes at the dumbing down of TV news, although a romantic subplot that pairs Carell and Bridesmaids star Kristen Wiig is less sparkling and a drift into Free Willy territory (with a shark, not a whale) threatens to drag the film under.

> When they handed out the latest Oscars, the judges got it just about right with AMERICAN HUSTLE (18: Entertainment In Video).

It’s a well-acted, 1970s-set crime caper that probably deserved to be nominated for several awards, but lacked that something special for it to claim the big prizes.

Opening with a disclaimer stating that “Some of this actually happened”, the film begins with a flurry of obvious wigs, polyester suits and iconic chart music frfom the period.

But unusually for the genre, it soon reveals itself as an intelligent character piece, with New York conman Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and his lover (Amy Adams) forced into helping the FBI as penance for a series of loan frauds.

A maverick agent (Bradley Cooper) offers him the chance to escape jail by assisting in a sting operation.

The hustler finds himself involved in a scheme to bring down the corrupt, Mafia-affiliated mayor of New Jersey, only to find his own wife (Jennifer Lawrence) plotting revenge.

The A-list cast is used as a kind of adult pantomime in which allegiances switch constantly and no one is ever quite who they seem.

Bale and Cooper drive the story and Adams is terrific, but Lawrence is irritating as a ditz whose loose-lipped tendencies might at any minute start a bloodbath.

> MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM (12: Twentieth Century Fox) is adapted from the South African political leader’s 1995 autobiography.

But the film’s 50-year span – from anti-apartheid activism to high office – feels episodic and Nelson Mandela’s extended spell in prison receives cursory coverage.

Despite a two-and-a-half hours running time, any deeper understanding of the man is undermined by the use of newsreel to fill in the gaps.

The statuesque Idris Elba gives a pivotal performance of controlled grace as Mandela, while Naomie Harris is excellent as wife Winnie, yet in terms of contemporary political biopics, this well-intentioned drama lacks the focused depth of Lincoln and has more in common with the ‘Greatest Hits’ style of The Iron Lady.