Cast: Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, James Marsden, Dylan Baker, Meagan Good, with Greg Kinnear and Kristen Wiig
Written By: Will Ferrell and Adam McKay
Directed By: Adam McKay
After a nearly decade long wait, one of the most anticipated comedy sequels in film history has finally arrived. Sometimes in an effort to lazily cash in on a brand name, a followup to a surprise hit is hastily put together which explains the existence of disasters like Caddyshack II, Airplane II and Arthur 2: On the Rocks. Luckily, writer/director Adam McKay and writer/star Will Ferrell respect their fans and reputations too much to treat this sequel with that kind of disdain. Living up to fan expectations is no easy task and undoubtedly not everybody will be pleased, but this film is certainly no embarrassment and is actually fairly comparable to the original. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is kind of a mess, but it’s an intentionally crafted mess filled with inspired lunacy and random absurdity – delivering dumb and smart laughs with equal aplomb.
Will Ferrell returns as the narcissistic, womanizing, scotch-drinking news anchor Ron Burgundy. As the film opens, Ron is fired from his position as lead anchor while his wife and anchorwoman Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) gets his gig. Their relationship cannot survive this and so the two part ways, with Ron forced to get a job hosting a dolphin show at SeaWorld. Ron’s luck turns around when he is contacted by Global News Network executive producer Freddie Shapp (Dylan Baker) who offers Ron a job hosting the graveyard shift of the world’s first 24 hour news channel located in New York City. Ron assembles the old team – weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), field reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and sportscaster Champ Kind (David Koechner) to join him.
While the first film dealt with the emergence of women in the workplace in the 70’s, the sequel takes place in the early 80’s with the onset of sensationalism in news – where celebrity gossip and live car chases overshadowed important world issues. There’s also a racial component this time around, as Ron’s new boss is an African-American woman named Linda Jackson (Meagan Good), a spunky, tough-as-nails threat to Ron’s notion of social hierarchy. Of course, the social commentary/satire is mostly an afterthought – pushed aside in favor of random comic idiocy. As with the first film, the added nuance of cleverness is appreciated – but McKay and Ferrell are far more concerned with silliness.
Since the release of the first film in 2004, supporting actor Steve Carell has become an A-list movie star nearly as bankable as Ferrell himself – so as a result the legally retarded Brick is given a lot more to do this time around. In the first movie, Brick mostly stood in the background shouting out the occasional non sequitur – but for the sequel he is the only character other than Ron to have his own subplot. This subplot comes in the form of a love story featuring Brick falling for an equally stupid woman named Chani Lastnamé (Kristen Wiig). Carell and Wiig have many funny scenes together sharing a demented chemistry, all stemming from one of the most bizarre “meet-cute” sequences of all time. In what is already a highly improvised movie, it’s pretty evident that almost all of the interaction between Carell and Wiig was ad-libbed and luckily most of it works.
Paul Rudd has also blossomed into a leading man in the years following the first Anchorman, but unfortunately he’s still somewhat underused in this sequel. While more Rudd would have been appreciated, the reduction in Koechner’s screentime is probably for the best. Both Rudd and Koechner are often sidelined in favor of Ferrell’s solo antics which involve his relationship with black boss/love interest Linda and his attempts to “assimilate” with her family. Then there’s another odd subplot which detours the already loose narrative, featuring Ron losing his eyesight and going off to live in a sequestered lighthouse – none of this having anything to do with the main story of Ron’s rivalry with handsome newsman Jack Lime (James Marsden) and the attempt to bolster GNN’s ratings. McKay and Ferrell are too intelligent and experienced to be unaware of proper story formatting, so the inherent sloppiness of the entire “Ron goes blind” saga is clearly an intentional decision. Combined with the constant improvisation and surrealistic humor – the messiness of the production only adds to its comedic endearment.
What it really comes down to with a movie like this is – is it funny? The answer is a resounding yes. The jokes and one-liners come fast and often and while there aren’t many scenes that standout as “showstoppers” – that’s because this is more a movie of random dialogue and wacky moments than it is of big comedic setpieces. That is until the finale, which features another “news team battle” like we got in the first film, but this time with more A-list cameos than you’ll be able to count.
On a laugh-per-minute ratio, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues delivers more hilarity than any other comedy this year – but due to being too sloppy and unstructured, the more carefully crafted This is the End is the better movie. As a result, Anchorman 2 isn’t the best comedy of the year – but it’s the funniest.