“…the final project should’ve been a lot funnier and a lot more polished.”

I jokingly stated to friends that if Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues turned out to be a mediocre-to-bad film there would be riots in the streets. Few films have been marketed to absolute hell like the sequel to Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s contemporary comedy classic and with Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy character anchoring newscasts, being apart of commercials selling the Dodge Durango, and having his own ice cream flavor by Ben & Jerry’s, the sequel seems to be set up larger than life itself.

So, if anyone wants to, I’ll be ready to partake in a small, controlled riot over Anchorman 2‘s quality. The film, by today’s standards of comedy, is definitely passable and provides for escapist fun, but by the standards the incredibly ubiquitous marketing campaign behind this film setup, the final project should’ve been a lot funnier and a lot more polished. It’s said to say that a good chunk of this film was tiresome and a bit of a chore to sit through. Especially when the character of Ron Burgundy established himself to be so witty and unpredictable in the film’s predecessor.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Directed by
Adam McKay
Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell
Release Date
18 December 2013
Steve’s Grade: C-

We are reacquainted with Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) in the very beginning, both of whom are still reading the news and are firmly attached to their seventies lifestyles. The news station’s boss calls Ron and Veronica into his office, promoting Veronica and firing Ron after a long stint on air. Depressed and suicidal, Ron takes up a job as a SeaWorld announcer before being approached by a man with ambitions to launch a twenty-four hour news channel.

Ron accepts the offer and goes to reunite his pals Champ Kind (David Koechner), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), who have now all gone on to lead completely different lives. Together, they form a strong band of newscasters, even in the face of their rival, the younger and overpaid Jack Lime (James Marsden).

Perhaps one cinematic affair with these characters was enough, or the concept is as dated as the characters’ personalities, but for whatever reason, Anchorman 2 feels wheezy and exhausted by its hour mark. The film constantly throws jokes at us, an admirable display of zealous improvisation and comedic writing, but for every eight jokes it gives us in a minute, one maybe provokes a smirk, another a chuckle, and another an audible laugh, leaving five jokes wading in the water. For a comedy, especially one the size of this, that’s a middling ratio to say the least.

The saving grace of the film is its commentary on how twenty-four hour news networks like CNN and Fox News helped broadcast journalism by maintaining consistent and timely with its news, but also led to a certain conflict of speed vs. accuracy in reporting and something of yellow journalism. When twenty-four hour news entered the picture, news networks seemed less concerned about getting the facts right and more concerned about being the first network to report a story, resulting in a conflict between getting the information first and being correct about it in the long run.

The yellow journalism aspect comes when Ron Burgundy sees the value in reporting stories in a sensationalistic way or stories that would obtain higher ratings rather than ones that would make a more informed public. This lone fact embodies one of the predominant reasons why journalism is broken in America. We value stories about reality TV, gossip, and car chases over politics, social issues, and the country’s current economic standing.

The fact that Anchorman 2 incorporates a barrage of inane humor and has the courage to touch on this subject is a bold feat on its behalf. The inclusion of commentary gives its shockingly average humor something to at least on for a good portion of its runtime. But by the hour and twenty minute mark, I had more than enough of Ron Burgundy. But, apparently, Ferrell and McKay didn’t, as another subplot had to enter the picture and a horribly tired climax involving several wacky cameos. By the end credits, I could easily wait another nine years before seeing these band of characters again.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues has laughs, sometimes big ones. However, it also has dry spots and instances where it seems we’re supposed to laugh at the characters because they’re, well, being their characters (case and point Ron Burgundy, who the film seems to think we’ll laugh at anything he says or does because he is Ron Burgundy). While there’s undoubtedly entertainment value here, it’s like getting a knock-off of a popular game or appliance under the Christmas tree.

Review by Steve Pulaski, Lead Film Critic