By Gary Murray
Starring Will Ferrell, Paul Ruud and Steve Carell
Written by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay
Directed by Adam McKay
Running time 119 min
MPAA Rating PG-13
Selig Film Rating Cable
Anchorman was a 2004 that did some decent numbers at the box office. Like many other comedies (Austin Powers comes to mind), it did some incredible numbers in the home video market. It seemed that everyone caught the film during its second run on the small screen. The film has become so successful, that a sequel has emerged. That sequel is Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.
Our story starts in Medius Rea, with Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) being chased by a shark. Then we go back to Ron and his wife Veronica (Christina Applegate) working as a husband and wife team on weekend news in NYC. With a major surprise cameo, Veronica is promoted to the new anchor spot and Ron is fired. This is the beginning of the downward spiral of Ron.
It is a few months later and Ron is at the bottom of the barrel with MC work. One day, he is offered a chance to join a new concept–24 hour cable news. Before one can blink, Ron is getting the band back together. The funniest moments happen when they travel across country. It becomes the way too early high point of the film.
Once in NYC, the boys begin to see how monumental a task they have taken on. The group draws the lowly graveyard shift. It is like high school and they are not the cool kids. The quartet decides to take a different take on the news and basically invent sensationalism journalism. It becomes a ratings boon and the envy of everyone else at the station.
Thrown into the mix is Linda Jackson (Meagan Good) a high-powered news producer. At first appalled by the antics of Ron but eventually falls in love with the ratings. Everyone is shocked that she is black and there is a big scene addressing this issue. This is set in the 1980s not the 1880s—what’s the shock?
As cable news devolves into what it has become in our modern world, Ron once again becomes enamored with everything Ron Burgundy. We know that the vaulting will lead to another crash and burn. The audience just has to wait for it to happen. In so many ways it feels more of what we’ve seen before.
The giant climax is yet another battle royal that seemed funnier the first time we saw it in the original Anchorman. The film doesn’t build as much as it sputtered to its eventual conclusion. All of the famous comics seem to be having a ball doing these little cameos.
And that is the major problem with the film. It feels like a lukewarm retread of the first film with stolen bits from Austin Powers and half a dozen other comedies thrown in for good measure. With so many comics, someone should have come up with something more original to do with them.
For a two hour film, there are many moments of stunningly bad comedy. It is said that brevity is the soul of wit and Anchorman 2 proves how true of an axiom that can be. It needed to have at least a half-hour cut from the film. It drags along time after time without giving the audience anything and anyone to root for. At times it is painfully unfunny.
The part of Anchorman that worked the best was Will Ferrell playing off Christina Applegate. They were gold with him being over the top and she playing the ‘straight-man’ role. That dynamic is sorely missing in this adventure. It is al way too much Ron without any balance or strong counter presence.
By far the biggest miscue is done by Steve Carell as Brick Tamland, the weather guy. There is just too much weirdness in the role. A pinch of sugar is needed and he adds a pound to the proceedings. With the addition of Kristen Wiig as the loony love interest is even more of a bad thing. It just did not work.
This film will make a ton of money but just doesn’t hold together as well as the first film held together. Anchorman 2 feels like a search for movie patron gold rather than a desire to tell a second tale with this cast of characters. It is a weak entry.