Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is Certified Fresh

Plus, American Hustle, Saving Mr. Banks, Inside Llewyn Davis, the Selfish Giant, The Past, and Her are all Certified Fresh as well.

by | December 20, 2013 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a group of classy newsmen (Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, starring Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd); a prehistoric family (Walking With Dinosaurs, with voice performances by John Leguizamo and Justin Long); Feds and con-artists (American Hustle, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper); an uneasy artistic partnership (Saving Mr. Banks, starring Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks); and a struggling folksinger (Inside Llewyn Davis, starring Oscar Isaac and Carey Mulligan). What do the critics have to say?

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

75%

Both a goofy workplace comedy and a sly media satire, Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy earned a dedicated cult following, though the call for a sequel escalated slowly. Well, the wait is over, and critics say Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is pretty funny stuff; though it’s uneven and less quotable than its predecessor, it’s just as sublimely silly, and the talented cast riffs with energetic abandon. It’s the 1980s, and Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and his old Channel 4 pals have been hired by a new 24-hour news network. Eschewing hard news, they focus on the sensational and the absurd — and garner big ratings in the process. The pundits say that 60 percent of the time, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues works every time; note every joke works, but a good many do, resulting in an anarchic comedy with a thing or two to say about our contemporary media landscape. (Check out this week’s Total Recall for a roundown of memorable movie journalists, and watch our video interviews with the stars of Anchorman 2.)

Walking With Dinosaurs

23%

When you’ve made a movie featuring painstakingly, naturalistically rendered CG dinosaurs, what more do you need? How about wiseacre dialogue and slapstick gags? Critics say that’s exactly the trouble with Walking With Dinosaurs, in which majestic visuals are seriously undermined by pedestrian storytelling. Based on a well-regarded BBC series, Dinosaurs is the tale of a young Pachyrhinosaurus (voiced by Justin Long) who squabbles with his siblings, encounters predators, and falls in love. The pundits say the filmmakers seem to have worried that a quasi-nature documentary approach might have turned off the youngsters, but the narrative is so poorly executed that the end result isn’t all t hat entertaining, much less educational.

American Hustle

92%

Plenty of filmmakers have paid homage to GoodFellas over the years. Critics say that with American Hustle, director David O. Russell has done them all one better: he’s crafted a deliriously entertaining crime picture with enough rich performances and stylistic razzle dazzle to actually earn comparisons to Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece. Bradley Cooper stars as Richie, an FBI agent who busts Irving (Christian Bale) and Sydney (Amy Adams) for low-level grifting and subsequently enlists them, along with Irving’s unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), into a sting operation designed to ensnare corrupt New Jersey politicians. The pundits say the Certified Fresh American Hustle is filled with fascinating characters, witty dialogue, toe-tapping 1970s tunes, and a giddy momentum that’s deeply infectious. (Check out our video interviews with Cooper, Adams, Bale, and Jeremy Renner.)

Saving Mr. Banks

79%

As the old saying goes, never let the facts get in the way of a good story. The critics say that even though Saving Mr. Banks deviates significantly from the historical record, it still manages to be a heartwarming showbiz tale with outstanding performances from Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks. Mary Poppis author P.L. Travers (Thompson) reluctantly agrees to meet with Walt Disney (Hanks), who desperately wants to adapt her book for the screen. Travers is deeply skeptical of Disney’s plans, and he has to pull out all the stops to persuade her to collaborate on the film. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Saving Mr. Banks is funny, poignant, and perfectly acted, even if the sharp edges of the real-life story have been sanded off.

Inside Llewyn Davis

92%

The Coen brothers have made plenty of movies about embattled outsiders, and critics say Inside Llewyn Davis is one of the best of the bunch, a bittersweet, lushly photographed chronicle of a down-and-out folksinger that’s heartfelt and darkly comic in equal measure. Haunted by the death of his singing partner, Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is in the midst of a personal and professional slump; he has little money, no permanent address, a shortage of gigs, and a knack for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Inside Llewyn Davis is an absorbing portrait of a struggling artist, stuffed with loving details that will delight music buffs. (Watch our video interviews with Isaac and co-star Carey Mulligan here.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

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