Few comedy movies have entered the cinema with as much hype and expectation as Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. It has been nine years since the original Anchorman hit our screens but it’s an unequivocal cult classic that people are still quoting to this day (“60% of the time, it works every time.”). Needless to say, Anchorman 2 had a lot to live up to but I’m very sorry to say that it does not meet the high standards set by the first.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues sees Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) – after losing his job and his wife, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) – reuniting the old news team of Brick (Stevel Carell), Brian (Paul Rudd) and Champ (David Koechner) to take a crack at New York’s first 24-hour news channel. It’s a solid premise that acts as a base for a great number of laughs and, at first, it feels like the guys are just picking up where they left off nine years ago. The issue is that things become incredibly tiresome all too quickly. It’s as if there was such a strong idea of what an Anchorman movie should be that the entire focus went towards conforming to these ideals and the end result feels more like a movie doing an Anchorman impression.
For instance, so much of the comedy hinges on the peculiar ways in which Will Ferrell delivers Ron’s lines and, while this may be hysterical to begin with, my laughs turned to sighs after a short while. Similarly, the Brick Tamland character’s shtick in the first movie was that, every so often, he’d chip in with a line of seemingly random dialogue (“I ate a big red candle.”). However, through the means of a half-hearted love story, Anchorman 2 sees entire scenes dedicated to Brick and his new love interest – played by Kristen Wiig – going back and forth with totally illogical sentences; it’s tiresome.
Despite this, there are still more laughs in Anchorman 2 than most comedy films. The guys smoking crack on air, Ron having dinner with his new girlfriend’s black family and bidding farewell to Doby the shark are all particular highlights.
However, I do suspect that the news team weren’t the only ones to smoke some crack as things get a little out of hand towards the end of the film. There’s a barrage of impressive yet over saturated cameos – I won’t ruin any of them as they are legitimately surprising – and the obligatory battle of the news teams will get at least as many eye-rolls as belly-laughs. And Ron nursing and raising a wounded, baby shark was just a bit too much.
It would have benefited Anchorman 2 to remain a little more grounded, both in plot and performance. The plot sets off with a clear path ahead but quickly loses its direction; corrupt corporations, TV ratings, romance, fatherhood and friendship are some of many themes and plot points that Anchorman 2 fails to juggle successfully. Similarly, toning down some of the performances would have gone a long way towards elongating the appeal of the movies’ humour.
Surprisingly, there’s a particularly poignant and cutting satire of the modern news industry underneath the surface of this insane tale.. The film-makers take jabs at the agendas and content of many modern news organisations by having the gang invent most of it, their efforts are often met with cries of “That is not news!”
In the end, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues lands somewhere above bitter disappointment but well below its potential. At times, it feels more like an Anchorman parody than a true sequel and while there may be a plethora of laughs, there are plenty of sighs too.