Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Review
Reviewed by Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull.
Just under a decade ago when the now commonplace ‘Frat Pack’ genre was in its emergent years Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy was birthed by Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay. It was a strange comedy, a peculiar blend of improvisation and delicately planned sequences. Ferrell’s character Ron Burgundy, the chauvinistic titular newsreader has gone on to become one of his biggest cash cows – and greatest creations. He has resurrected Anchorman with a new instalment that whilst maintaining a rapid-fire gag rate fails to recapture the sheer outlandishness of the first film.
Ferrell slips back into the brown suit and crescent moon moustache almost like he has never been gone. The racist, sexist and downright weird comments are still there but the writers – McKay and Ferrell respectively – try and up the ante too much so that the outrageousness actually simmers down the laughs. Returning stars Paul Rudd (as my personal favourite, Brian Fantana), Steve Carell (as the completely loveable but cretinous Brick Tamland) and David Koechner (as Champ Kind, the horrific and brazen chicken/bat restaurateur) help the nine-year gap feel less but there’s still something lacking, at least there isn’t up until the final quarter.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, like most comedies nowadays, falls at the last hurdle. The beginning is rollicking and enjoyable with each scene punctuated by some ribald joke that’ll have you curious about the political correctness of it but the climax is nothing short of disappointing. The first film ended with Burgundy and company facing off a bear at a zoo, eventually being saved by the newsman’s miraculously alive dog, Baxter who can communicate with the beast. It was completely ridiculous but absolutely hilarious and so Ferrell and McKay have taken a lesson from it and upped the implausibility of it all. The climax was a ludicrous fight sequence with as many cameos as you can shake a stick at shoehorned in. While it was nice to see Sacha Baron Cohen put on an exaggerated accent and pretend to be from the BBC it was just unnecessary. The first Anchorman didn’t aim for extravagance and that’s exactly what this sequel has done.
The plot is rather simple and everything else is an offshoot from the central premise: after the first film Ron Burgundy and his wife Veronica Corningstone-Burgundy are now co-anchoring for a big network but when a vacancy arises Veronica is the one to take it and not Ron; he’s disgraced and when an opportunity to work at a radical news station befalls Ron he seizes it and collects the now estranged gang. The road trip sequence is a delight from the revelation as to what Brick, Brian and Champ have being doing to Ron’s confusion over what cruise control actually means. Burgundy also gets a new love interest in the form of Meagan Good’s Linda Jackson who substitutes Corningstone-Burgundy a large part of the time. Good and Ferrell get some fantastic scenes together and the group’s reaction to her ethnicity is priceless (“She’s got a knife!”). James Marsden also steps in as Burgundy’s new rival, Jack Lime, a man said to be like “a prince” and one with hypersensitive hearing. Carell’s Brick gets his own lady love in the form of pea-brained secretary Chani (Kristen Wiig playing very much against form).
Occasionally there’s a misjudged joke (take a sequence in which Burgundy attempts to “assimilate” with Linda’s Afro-American family over dinner) but mostly Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is consistent in the gag quotient. After the first hour and a half you start to check your watch and the finale sags; this is really what lets it down. Comparing it to the first Anchorman is just plain foolish because little beats that but it’s up there. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues may not be the best Ferrell and McKay could have achieved but it’s the best news fans of Burgundy are going to get in a long while.