After the sales boost resulting from the first film, the makers of Lamp insisted upon an Anchorman sequel.

Recently divorced and out of a job, everyone’s favorite anchorman, Ron Burgundy, is tasked with getting the old team back together to help make GNN, the world’s first 24-hour news network, a huge success.  Also, he must contend with blindness, nursing a shark back to health, more rival news gangs, romantic triangles, getting to his son’s recital, and that damn teleprompter.

The original Anchorman was unique in it’s time – a period piece (1970’s) filled with absurd, surreal humor and ad-libbed non-sequiturs.  Much of what made it so successful was that it’s creators just couldn’t know what would and would not be funny about it, so all bets were off.  With the sequel, the filmmakers are now armed with the knowledge of what clicked with audiences, so a few of the bets are, unfortunately, back on.

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

Make no mistake – Anchorman 2 is funny.  Incredibly funny.  In fact, it hardly seems fair to blame it for the inability to surprise in the same way that the first one did.  While they could have gone off in a brand new, original direction, they mostly chose the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” route.  Many of the same beats are hit, but this time they are multiplied by six – sometimes that’s a great thing and other times it doesn’t work quite as well.

Writers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay (also director) certainly dialed up the weirdness, which definitely works in it’s favor.  If it was crazy in the first one, it’s crazier here.  It’s not as instantly quotable, but many of the running gags and set pieces are downright fantastic.  They even have a bit of fun with the editing of the movie in a quick gag that provided one of the biggest laughs.  They still remain largely within the guidelines set out by the first film, but are not afraid to go even nuttier.  Especially funny are scenes involving a slowly crashing RV, a family dinner that doesn’t go as planned,  the impossibly over-the-top news team battle royale,

One of the first film’s biggest weapons was Steve Carell as dim-witted, well-meaning weatherman Brick Tamland, who wants to be just like his fellow cohorts.  Here, his part has been increased significantly.  Although Carell is just as funny in the role, it worked better in small doses.  This time around, we begin to expect him to chime in at certain times (not necessarily with what, of course), so we’re not kept on our guard in the same way.  Kristen Wiig appears as an equally low-IQ’d love interest for Brick in probably the best of the new characters.  She brings out the best in him and when they’re together, the scenes are both funny and strangely (very strangely) sweet.  The rest of the gang is here as well, including Paul Rudd and David Koechner, rounding out Burgundy’s news team, but they are relegated to almost cameo-sized roles.  They were excellent in the first film, and showed potential to be the same here, but they could almost be removed completely without much bearing on the final product.  One would hope that when the inevitable ‘lost’ film is put together from the unused footage, Rudd and Koechner feature much more heavily.  It was the camaraderie between the four that made each of them funnier.


Christina Applegate shines again as Veronica Cornerstone, now Burgundy’s ex-wife.  She doesn’t have as much screen time as her previous go-round, but she makes much more of it this time.  Several new cast members make a great impression and fit right in – Meagan Good as the tough boss and potential love interest for Burgundy, Greg Kinnear as the new fey man in Veronica’s life who may or may have telepathic abilities, and James Marsden as Jack Lime/Lame, a smarmy rival at GNN.  The ridiculous (and hilarious) news team rumble (a welcome reprise from the first film) also features a ton of great cameos that provide some good laughs and are best left to discover on your own.

This time around, the film is much less reliant upon the period that it’s set in (1980’s), whereas the first film derived much directly from the 1970’s.  Aside from a few jokes about self-encompassing cable stations, this could almost take place just about anytime.  Burgundy also spends a lot less time actually doing the news, instead venturing off into several tangents that don’t particularly require his skills as an anchorman.  More so than ever, this is almost strictly Will Ferrell’s show, and he is as hilarious as ever.  His Burgundy remains egotistical, chauvinistic, naively racist, and insensitive to those around him – and, you’ll love him for it.  The McKay/Ferrell brand of humor is uniquely their own, and it never shines brighter than it does when filtered through the character of Ron Burgundy.

JASON’S FINAL THOUGHTS:

Weaker on plot (what there is to speak of) and originality than it’s predecessor, but even more willing to go strange when it needs to, Anchorman 2 still provides the laughs and that is what is most important.  You won’t feel that sense of discovery that you did after watching the first adventure, and you probably won’t be quoting it until the 3rd one comes out, but the laugh-per-minute ratio is still quite high, and that’s all that matters.  Avoiding the sophomore slump, but not by as wide of a margin as they could have, Anchorman 2 definitely comes recommended.

Review by Jason Howard, Film Critic