Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)

Anchorman 2Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) are more than just husband and wife — they are co-anchors. That is, at least, until Ron is fired and Victoria promoted, ending their relationship and putting even more distance between Ron and his son. After some time spent introducing (and berating) dolphins at SeaWorld, Ron is approached by GNN and invited to anchor the graveyard slot on the studio’s audacious rolling news experiment. He then reunites his old crew — finding Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) photographing pussies, Champ Kind (David Koechner) deep-frying bats and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) mourning at his own funeral — and sets out to re-make his name as an anchorman, and hopefully win a wager with smug newsreader Jack Lime (James Marsden) in the process.

The noughties were rife with absurdist, semi-improvised Will Ferrell vehicles, some of them better than others. These ranged from the unwatchable (Step Brothers) to the inspired (Blades Of Glory), but whatever the quality were all attempts to replicate the surprise success of one movie, Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy. A modest hit upon its 2004 release, the film went on to become a cult favourite, finding a new lease of life on DVD and Blu-ray. A companion piece, comprising unused material from the first film, was released later the same year, but it is only now, nearly a decade on, that Anchorman is finally receiving the sequel treatment.

Basically, absence had made the heart grow much, much fonder, to the point that there was a good chance that Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues would never live up to the first movie; that it simply wasn’t possible. Happily, however, Ferrell and director Adam McKay have clearly spent the interim throwing ideas around, and while the sequel might not reach quite the same heights as its predecessor it nevertheless has an impressive gag rate and an almost palpable sense of the love that went into making it. Old jokes are revived, favourite characters are revisited and Ron Burgandy is redeemed after a few too many laughless publicity stunts.

The Legend Continues isn’t entirely anchored to the past, however, and although it does mirror the first film to some extent it does at least move the action forward. Literally. Into a different decade. Set in the 80s, the film spends a large part of its running time addressing the advent of rolling news, a style of broadcast that would go on to revolutionise and ultimately dominate the way current affairs are reported. This adds a new layer to the film, taking over from the original’s comment on gender equality, and acts as a counterpoint to the slapstick and absurdity. As fun as it is to see Brick flirting or Ron bottle-feeding a baby shark, it’s the satirisation of Rupert Murdock in particular and sensationalist news in general that sets Anchorman 2 apart from most modern comedy.

Whereas the first film was an almost perfect alchemy of comedic styles, however, the sequel is a little less seamless and considerably less consistent. It still delivers near-suffocating fits of laughter (just wait until Brick tells you about his shadow) but for every great gag or memorable quote there is a scene or subplot that simply doesn’t work. That there’s a shark at all is a problem — it’s too ridiculous to be funny and all but kills the film’s momentum, and makes even the campervan crash look like a good idea. There’s also a racial element to a number of the gags that comes off as inappropriate more often than enlightened. The time wasted on these various misfires would have been better spent on the supporting cast, many of whom — all but Brick, really — are under-served by the narrative.

There’s a moment early on in which a potential news story is touted that promises to unite the team and end the film in a manner that is both smart and satisfying. Instead, the film insists on essentially replicating the final act of the first film, albeit with bigger cameos, new animals and a few new lines for Brick. Like the rest of the film, it’s intermittently funny, but it still leaves you feeling strangely unfulfilled. Give it a decade, though: Anchorman took years to win people over, so maybe it’s a little premature to pass judgement on the film’s sequel.

3.5-Stars

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

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