Review: Anchorman 2: the Legend Continues
A sequel to Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy has been a long time coming. Fans have been clamoring for years, hyping the movie up to a level that hasn’t been seen for a comedy in a long time. Plus the marketing train has been going full steam ahead. While Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is funny, it doesn’t live up to the endlessly quotable first.
Minor spoiler warning. There won’t be any major spoilers, but a few plot points will be discussed.
The plot of Anchorman 2 is quite scatterbrained. Most of the movie is made up of small arcs with a lose plot stitching them together. Multiple plot points are brought up and then quickly forgotten in favor of something else that is supposed to be funnier. Burgundy is a borderline racist in the first part of the film, but that’s forgotten in the second half of the movie. Ron’s marriage is almost forgotten after the first ten minutes, and then comes back near the end. Things like this have some funny moments, and could have set up funnier scenarios to come, but are thrown by the wayside in the hopes that the next joke is going to be funnier on its own. As I described the plot to a friend, he remarked, “Oh, so it’s pulling a Family Guy.” If you’ve seen the trailer and the weird set up for the RV gag, it becomes clear that Will Ferrell and Adam McKay (the writers) were aiming for this type of plot. It’s funny, and while I found myself wiping tears from my eyes at points, it’s also lazy. It feels as if Ferrell and McKay said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if Ron Burgundy….” and created a bunch of ideas they didn’t know how to pull together.
While a comedy, Ferrell and McKay find some ways to critique the current news status quo and their practices. Their seemingly endless bashing of networks like FOX News comes across as funny and makes you think for a second (literally a second, as the critique isn’t that deep). It’s nothing special, but adds a nice layer to the jokes. While I can appreciate the developments that Ferrell and McKay have made with the characters, some are made for the worse. Champ’s gay nature coming out (pun intended) half way through the first movie was very funny, but it’s over done in the second film. And much like other plot points, it’s forgotten in favor of other developments. While Brick’s ineptitude was somewhat believable in Anchorman, he’s been exaggerated to a point that almost breaks the character in Anchorman 2. He’s easily the funniest character in the movie, but a couple of scenes could have been cut and that have kept his character from the brink of idiocy. Also, Brick didn’t need a love interest. This plot point is continuously shoehorned into scenes, and feel like something that was brainstormed but ultimately undeveloped. Kristin Wiig is one of the funniest ladies in Hollywood, but she feels out of place in the movie.
Much like American Reunion, your enjoyment of Anchorman 2 is based on how much you loved the first movie. Many of the jokes are based off of set ups from the first, like Ron saying things like “Great Odin’s raven!” when he is surprised. Ferrell and McKay subscribe to the joke writing logic that bigger is better when using jokes from Anchorman. There was an awesome Anchorman battle in the first? Well let’s make it bigger with bigger stars and throw all sorts of logic out the window. Sure they are funny, and bring back warm memories of the first movie, but they do nothing to help the movie I’m sitting in the theater watching at the present time. But yeah, the Anchorman battle was epic.
While the story seems to be just going through the motions, there is no denying that everyone involved is having an absolute blast. Will Ferrell slips right back into the character of Ron Burgundy, making you not care that you heard the same joke before in the last movie because his delivery is so funny. Steve Carrel ends up stealing the show as Brick (when he isn’t having a love interest). Carrel demands your attention whenever he is on the screen, as he’s doing something in every scene, whether he is in the background or front and center. Paul Rudd’s Brian Fantana is given little to do through Anchorman 2. His character goes nowhere emotionally, and Rudd gets the least amount of funny lines. David Koechner’s Champ Kind (who picks up some racist tendencies as well) also seems stagnant. There was some potential in seeing Champ deal with serving chicken fried bat, but, as with so many others, that idea is also thrown out the window within minutes of being brought up. Regardless Rudd and Koechner are funny even if they don’t have an arc to chew on.
While I’ve been critical about the plot and lazy writing, it’s worth noting that I was laughing throughout the movie. It’s an entertaining movie, if not as entertaining as the first. It’s not going to live up to the hype that fans (and marketing team) have given it, but it’s worth seeing if you enjoyed the first movie.
Anchorman 2: the Legend Continues gets 3/5.
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