Article By: Dan Clark
If any comedy sequel could work one would think Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues would have one of the best opportunities to succeed. For one the concept is not built upon a fabricated once in a life time situation. There is no epic hangover here that needs to haphazardly occur again, or some form of oddball buddy road trip full of hijinks, or a prepubescent child with neglectful parents and a knack for torture. Anchorman was essentially random hilarious moments loosely stringed together with a very thin plotline. Repeating that format would be akin to having another episode of a high concept sketch show.
With that said, although Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues fares far better than most inane comedy sequels, it suffers from several of the same issues. Occasionally it relies too heavily on forcefully rehashing previous standout moments in less clever ways, and though the main crew is back in full force the supporting cast is supremely inferior to the previous film. Fans of the first Anchorman will assuredly find enough laughs to make this return trip an enjoyable one. Unfortunately, the laughs are not as big or as consistent enough to live up to the heights of its predecessor.
To the films credit it at least did not completely rest on its laurels. Ron Burgundy and crew have not only bid farewell to the 1970’s they have also left the confines of the classy city San Diego to enter the world of cable news in New York City. After losing his anchor desk to his now ex-wife Burgundy’s life enters a downward spiral. Hope emerges when he gets selected to be an anchor for the newly formed GNN, which is about to venture into something rather bold—becoming the first ever twenty-four hour news network.
Political commentary was not something I was expecting from a movie the likes Anchorman. Silliness sure…loads of it, but taking jabs at the dumbing down of the media was somewhat unexpected. Seeing Ron Burgundy take the once hallowed tradition of reporting on the news and transform it into an expose on gossip and car chases was by no means out of character. Burgundy is unquestionably the type of person who would tell people what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. Still, it was a rather heavy-handed tactic that eventually grew tired.
One aspect of Anchorman that never grows tired is the chemistry between Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, and David Koechner. Director Adam McKay, who also co-wrote the script with Ferrell, is the type of comedic director that knows how to give his talent space to let them do their thing. The simple idea of letting the funny people be funny! Scenes may devolved into basic ‘yes and’ improve sessions, but the sheer randomness of these riffs provide some of the biggest laughs. Listening to them reminiscent about the good old days while riding in a ‘cruised controlled’ fan was one of the best early moments.
In the past film Steve Carell’s character Brick Tamland was a standout for many. His fandom along with Carell’s rising career explains why is role was greatly expanded–to the detriment of the movie. I am a huge Carell fan and loved Brick in the first movie; however a one-note character is best used sparingly. During much of the first half Brick dominates the movie. His theatrics run thin, and giving him a love interest played Kristen Wig did not help matters. I do have to admit I enjoyed their dates to their favorite soda machine. If it was given in small doses it would have continued to work, instead they were forced in like square enema that do not dissolve.
Another issue was the lacking supporting cast. Anchorman centered around the rivalry/love affair between Burgundy and Veronica Corningstone. Both of them made great lovers and even better enemies. This time around Burgundy has two rivals to contend with. His direct challenge came in the form of Jack Lime played by James Marsden. Marsden was great as the overly brash anchor with a chiseled jaw. His back and forth with Burgundy was short, sweet, and to the point.
On the other hand Meagan Good’s character of Linda Jackson was a big disappointment. Her character was nothing more than a prop piece used to fit whatever specific joke they were currently going for. One moment she is the forceful no nonsense woman who openly fights back against Burgundy’s obvious racism. The next she is fawning all over Burgundy just so we can get an uncomfortable scene with Burgundy having dinner with her family. While this led to a number of humorous moments it felt like a cheat. More important it was a storyline that tapered off to nothingness.
As the film neared its end the focus rested on Burgundy’s struggles and his relationship with his sometimes forgotten son. This was the right move as that story yielded some soon to be classic moments. A love ballad to their unusual pet Toby was truly inspired.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues has its issues. It also has the sheer random hilarity fans of the first are hoping for. Some of the more notable moments are back and are bigger…and sometimes even better than last time. McKay, Ferrell, and company go places most would not dare in a mainstream comedy. I could also easily see this growing on me after repeat viewings as McKay films often do. After the first go around the laughs are not as plentiful as I would hope and it suffers from a classic case of diminishing returns. Anchorman 2 is serviceable…but certainly not legendary.