Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie" (2004)

Starring Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate and Paul Rudd
Written by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay
Directed by Adam McKay

Okay, this is just plain weird.  "Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie" is a whole movie made up entirely of deleted scenes.  Will Ferrell and Adam McKay shot so much material for "Anchorman" that they had enough left over for an entire second movie. 

In this strange, alternate version of "Anchorman," the plot follows the same sort of beats, but with entirely different circumstances.  The ongoing news story that runs through the plot is (instead of the impending birth of a new panda) a group of radical bank robbers who call themselves "The Alarm Clock."  Paul (Kevin Corrigan), Malcolm Y (Chuck D.), Kanshasha X (Maya Rudolph) and Mouse (Tara Subkoff) rob banks in order to bankroll their dreams of a social revolution in America. 

As in "Anchorman," Ron and Veronica fall for each other, but then Ron's jealousy and dislike of women in his profession come between them.  They begin to try and one-up each other, each trying to get leads on the location of "Alarm Clock," knowing that the resulting scoop will make their careers.  Ron manages to use Veronica's information to track down the Alarm Clock, but unfortunately, they get the best of him and steal his news van.  Later, determined to use a famous news anchor to read their manifesto to the world, Alarm Clock kidnaps Veronica and takes her to the San Diego Observatory to make their broadcast. 

Ron figures it out, cleans himself up, gathers his news team and heads into the mountains to rescue her.  Eventually, they outwit the Alarm Clock and defeat them in hand-to-hand combat, and Ron and Veronica profess their love for each other in front of the world on broadcast news. 

"Wake Up, Ron Burgundy" isn't quite as funny as "Anchorman," but there are some real doozies here, especially in the second half.  Some of these scenes are a total riot, though.  At several points in the movie, there are alternate takes of scenes from the original movie, and a couple of scene extensions, but for the most part, this is all new material.  Some of the best parts include an extension of the absurd, trippy 'sex' scene between Ron and Veronica where Veronica is molested by an animated "love panda," a lengthy scene where Champ professes homosexual love for Ron, and Brick has a Vietnam flashback that turns him into a vicious, tactical killer. 

There are a number of performers here, just as "Anchorman" is loaded with cameos, including SNL's Maya Rudolph and Amy Pohler, Justin Long and MC Gainey.  They each get some real great moments.  Justin Long's scene as Fred Ward's troubled son is hilarious as he's told that he can no longer hang out behind peoples' homes at night wearing a ski mask.  Long jumps out of his seat, lifts his shirt and starts screaming about how his chest hair makes him a man, and Ward quickly replies that he can't see any hair.  

There's so much here, it's ludicrous.  I can't believe they shot this much extra material.  Sure, the two movies don't reconcile - it's not as though the footage in "Wake Up" could be edited back into "Anchorman."  Sure, much of it could, but the main bank robber plot doesn't fit.  "Wake Up" is definitely an alternate version of "Anchorman" itself, but is also, at the same time, completely its own movie.  I can't recommend it in place of "Anchorman," but as a companion film, it's totally worthy.  There are a lot of great takes and great jokes in here that didn't make it into the main feature, and this is the perfect way to showcase all that footage.