Will Ferrell, the familiar lush Ron Burgundy mustache flowing over lips pressed to a flute, bounded onto the stage of "Conan" last week to toot a song – and make an announcement fans have waited eight years to hear.
"There will be a sequel to 'Anchorman,'" he declared, resplendent in a burgundy polyester suit straight out of the Action 4 News dressing room closet.
Whether or not he realized it, Ferrell/Burgundy served as a pied piper of sorts, heralding what we'll affectionately call the march of the delightfully dumb comedy reunions. Speaking of flutes, the latest "American Pie" installment is due out Friday amid welcome news of sequels planned not only for "Anchorman," but for "Twins" and "Dumb and Dumber."
The news also comes on the high heels of Adam Sandler earning a record 10 Razzies for his double turn as a sister and brother in "Jack and Jill" – a cautionary tale for dumb comedies gone bad (and a flick unlikely to see additional chapters). We're mindful that sequels to mindless movies come with the risk of not living up to our laugh-filled memories. But we’re dumber enough to have high hopes.
It may be folly to analyze why silly movies are hot, though escapism is usually reason enough. There seems to be a market, given the success of "The Hangover" films and "Bridesmaids," which surpassed "Dumb and Dumber" for moviedom’s most disgustingly hilarious bathroom scene.
Career revival also appears to be at play. Sure, Ferrell is a box office draw, the lackluster response to his recent Spanish-language comedy experiment, “Casa de mi Padre,” aside. But Jim Carrey, who co-starred with Jeff Daniels in 1994s’ “Dumb and Dumber,” hasn't scored a major hit in years.
Danny DeVito, the shorter half of 1988’s “Twins,” is enjoying a comeback playing a lout on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and giving voice to the Lorax. But Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has underutilized his gift for comedy, could use a boost after his stint as governor of California and a not-so-funny marital scandal. Eddie Murphy, who is joining the new movie – to be called "Triplets" – as the third long-lost brother, may be the most successful movie comedian ever, but he hasn't notched a live-action smash in a decade.
Producers of the planned sequels likely will be closely watching the fortunes of "American Reunion," the fourth theatrical release in the "Pie" series, which, with its 1999 debut channeled the twisted spirit of "Porky's" for a new (de)generation. There’s a great appeal in seeing Jim, Stifler and the gang all grown up – except, of course, that age doesn’t translate into maturity.
The lure of movie comedies that bring out the immaturity in us pre-dates "Porky's." Word of the "Dumb and Dumber" sequel came during the promotional tour for the Farrelly Brothers' upcoming cinematic homage to The Three Stooges – the original Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest. Meanwhile, "Animal House," the forever-young drunken daddy of the modern gross-out movie comedy, is on tap for a reboot as a Broadway musical.
It may be too much to hope that the song remains the same – but we'll always have that “Anchorman” flute scene. Check out the latest tune from the legendary Ron Burgundy below:
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NY City News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.