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Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jul 15, 2020

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues


Starring Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, Kristen Wiig, Harrison Ford, James Marsden, Meagan Good, Greg Kinnear, Josh Lawson, Dylan Baker, Fred Willard, Josh Lawson, Chris Parnell, Judah Nelson, Eliza Coupe, Vince Vaughn, Tina Fey, Jim Carrey, Will Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Liam Neeson, Marion Cotillard, Amy Poehler, Kanye West, Kirsten Dunst and John C. Reilly.

Screenplay by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.

Directed by Adam McKay.

Distributed by Paramount Pictures. 119 minutes. Rated R.

About a year and a half ago, when we were talking with Steve Carell about his then-upcoming film Seeking a Friend For the End of the World, he broke the news that due to popular demand, there would be a sequel for Will Ferrell's cult movie Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. That film was a minor hit (at best) when it was released, but it featured pre-stardom co-starring gigs by Carell and Paul Rudd and eventually gained a following over the years on cable and video.

"This is something we’ve wanted to do for years," Carell had said. "We had to persuade the studio to do another one. They’d been reticent about doing it for a number of years. We all wanted to. As soon as we finished the first one, we started talking about doing another one."

This kind of surprised me. Truth is, I've never seen the original Anchorman. I'm not a huge fan of Will Ferrell's humor and the trailers always looked beyond stupid to me. I hadn't really heard about this huge groundswell of passion to continue the story. Frankly, at nine years after the original and with Ferrell's career pretty much in the toilet, it would seem to me that they had missed the window of opportunity to tap into that film's cult popularity.

However, now Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is finally out, I was kind of looking forward to it. I've been told many times over the years by people whose taste I trust that Anchorman truly is a very funny movie. The cast is full of actors whose work I like, even if I don't particularly like the lead.

It also came out recently that I grew up watching the anchorman that Burgundy was rather loosely based on – 1970s KYW-3 Philadelphia anchor Mort Crim, who may now be best remembered for the fact that he co-anchored with Jessica Savitch before she went national. Therefore, that may add some nostalgic kick to the film for me.

Now that I've seen it, I only have two things to say. The studio was right to drag their feet. And if Anchorman 2 is any indication of the quality of Anchorman, I was right all along to avoid it all of these years. (Though, I suppose I am willing to give the original the benefit of the doubt that sequels are almost always worse than the original. Still, even as a thumbnail sketch, there is nothing here that intrigues me to go back and find out.)

Truth of the matter is I only laughed out loud twice during the whole God-awful longer-than-jail running time of Anchorman 2. Spoiler alert: both times were provided by Carell. Not that his character was particularly funny, either. In fact, with the exception of Burgundy himself, Carell's character of Brick could make a good argument for being the second most annoying person on screen. However, Carell did luck into two guffaws, mostly through talent and sheer force of will.

It's all a shame, because Anchorman 2 rides on the nugget of a good idea. It's 1980, and a down-in-the-dumps Ron Burgundy and his crew (Rudd, David Koechner and Carell) take a job with an all-new 24-hour cable news network and become inadvertent stars by introducing the world to the kind of substance-free fluff infotainment which has since become rampant on cable.

This rather clever idea is lost in a morass of odd plot twists, though. These include an office rivalry, Burgundy's on-again/off-again relationship with his estranged wife, her new boyfriend the telekinetic psychiatrist, Ron's unbelievable sexual relationship with his strong black boss, a weird short-lived tribute to Ice Castles and an oddball scene where Burgundy serenades a shark.

In the meantime, Rudd and Koechner's characters have almost nothing to do here. I can't believe they have been waiting nine years for nothing roles like this.

The film's smirky holier than thou attitude extends to its wall-to-wall soundtrack of soft rock favorites of the 70s and 80s (some of which came out after this film's 1980 setting). It's like they assume that people will automatically mock the music of Christopher Cross, England Dan & John Ford Coley, or Olivia Newton-John just because they are Christopher Cross, England Dan & John Ford Coley, or Olivia Newton-John. Well, bad guess, Ferrell. Actually, the soundtrack music is one of the few enjoyable parts of Anchorman 2.

By the time the film devolves into a cameo-heavy free-for-all (including Tina Fey, Jim Carrey, Will Smith, Vince Vaughn, Kirsten Dunst, Sacha Baron Cohen, Liam Neeson, Amy Poehler, Kanye West, Marion Cotillard, Harrison Ford, John C. Reilly and more) in a New York City park, the audience is scratching its head, wondering what the fuck the movie is trying to do. And why are we watching it? The only thing marginally interesting about the scene was seeing which movie star would pop up next and wondering what they owe Ferrell in order to be talked into being a part of this. There haven't been so many A-list celebs used for so little effect since New Year’s Eve.

Still, Ferrell struts around as Burgundy, looking more and more desperate by the second, watching as what may very well be his last chance to regain film stardom slips through his fingers. Ferrell the screenwriter has hugely let down Ferrell the actor. Then again, he usually does.

Anchorman 2 is a rambling mess of a film, a series of uninspired sketches in search of a plot and a purpose. When it can't find that it falls back on Will Ferrell and Steve Carell making oddball noises.

Stay classy, indeed.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2013 All rights reserved. Posted: December 18, 2013.

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