Review: ‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues’
Plot: It’s 1980 and Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) has enjoyed his share of success. He’s got a great job co-anchoring a nationwide news broadcast in New York City with this wife Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) and has a seven-year old son. However, when he’s abruptly fired from his job, Ron finds himself down on his luck, MCing events at Sea World in San Diego. But when a sudden opportunity arises at Global News Network, Ron finds himself back in the game. Gathering his trusted news team Champ (David Koechner), Brian (Paul Rudd), and Brick (Steve Carell), Ron heads back to NYC to reclaim his place among the greats of the news industry. But can he win back the lovely Veronica, combat news rival Jack Lime (James Marsden), and still stay classy?
Review: If I had to describe Anchorman 2 in two words it would be beautiful mess. There are big moments of hilarity in director Adam McKay’s followup to the 2004 comedy hit, along with plenty of notable quotes. However, it’s also a giant clustercuss with some extraneous plot lines and ridiculous moments that make it seem like the group was occasionally trying too hard.
McKay and Ferrell were clearly trying to recapture the spirit of the first film (and rightly so) but the script lacks the polish of the original as does the direction. McKay lets his cast run wild and while it works a decent amount of the time, a director needs to know when to rein it in. Some moments work (a sex panther-like scene involving condoms) and some fail miserably (the inevitable newscaster rumble that somehow involves a minotaur). Additionally, the annoying romantic sub-plot between Brick and love interest Chani (Kristen Wiig) is unbearably annoying. I’ve never been particularly enamored with awkward humor and their relationship is that to the nth degree.
Anchorman 2 starts out very strong and sports a nice little cameo from Harrison Ford as veteran newscaster Mack Tannen. There’s actually a great moment where Tannen says he killed four men in Okinawa. Ron thinks it was in WWII but Tannen says it was actually last week. The film gains momentum when Ron begins to gather his old news team. Each member’s current job is distinct and funny. Brian is photographing cats and living the high life, Champ owns a fast food restaurant where he passes off bats as chicken (“It’s chicken of the cave Ron!”), and Brick was lost at sea and presumed dead–until he shows up at his own funeral in a particularly funny sequence.
Once the news team arrives in NYC, Ron experiences problems both personal and professional. Veronica has taken up with new lover Gary (Greg Kinnear) and endeared himself to Ron’s son Walt (Judah Nelson). While the initial awkward encounter is funny, I found Kinnear’s character annoying and somewhat unnecessary. Meanwhile at GNN Ron contends with news rival Jack Lime (James Marsden). Unfortunately, Marsden and Ferrell’s rivalry lacks the chemistry of Wes Mantooth and Ron’s contentious relationship in the first film. Lime comes across as a one-dimensional putz and the rivalry between Lime and Burgundy possesses no real motivation. Furthermore, Ron contends with a new black boss in Linda Jackson (Meagan Good). Their initial encounter is extremely humorous. I commend McKay for including a strong and confident black female character. I only wish I’d seen more of Good because she crushes the role.
One thing I wasn’t expecting from Anchorman 2 was social commentary. After Ron and crew are regulated to the graveyard shift at GNN, rather than playing it straight, they decide to “give the people what they want” in order to boost ratings. This includes everything from high-speed car chases, to exaggerated weather reports, to a story by Brian Fantana chronicling the fifty top vaginas of all time. (Madam Currie is number two.) This is a direct, if slightly heavy-handed, jab at 24 hour news stations like Fox News, who seem to care more about ratings than reporting the news. The moment where Ron experiences a moment of conscience about the direction GNN has taken is surprisingly poignant.
My trepidation was fairly high going into Anchorman 2. After all they were promoting the Hell out of the film–Will Ferrell doing a random news broadcast in the mid-west, a fake autobiography, and even a whiskey called Odin’s Raven–to the point of overkill. Usually when stuff like this occurs it doesn’t bode well for the film. Anchorman is our generation’s Caddyshack and Anchorman 2 could easily have become Caddyshack 2. Thankfully this was not the case.
The film’s saving grace is ultimately it’s cast, especially the core group of Ron, Brian, Champ, and Brick. It’s enough to make Anchorman 2 a worthy, if slightly slipshod, successor to the original.
Nine years later Ron Burgundy remains classy.
My rating: 7/10