Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues – Will Ferrell assembles his comedy news team for the highly anticipated sequel

It has been nearly 10 years since the first Anchorman (2004) movie was released – a film that quickly became a cult comedy classic and made mainstream stars of its cast practically overnight. Ever since then fans have been asking for a sequel. After all there seemed like there were plenty more laughs to be had with hapless news anchor Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and his inept news team. And it seems that writer and star Will Ferrell and writer and director Adam McKay agreed with this too when they finally made Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013).

It’s now the 80’s and several years have passed since we last saw Ron, but he hasn’t changed much. He is still presenting as co-anchor with his now wife Veronica (Christina Applegate) for a prestigious news network. He still prides himself on his suits. Even his finely coiffured hairdo is the same. Yet he finds that while he isn’t changing, others are, namely his precious news station who suddenly decides to move forward…without him, but keeping Veronica on as lead anchor. Outraged at her for even considering taking the role, Ron leaves her and their son (Judah Nelson) behind. Luckily for Ron though he is soon hunted down by a guy called Freddie Shapp (Dylan Baker) and offered a second chance: to be a reporter on the first ever 24 hour news channel. Even though Ron thinks this idea is “Without a doubt the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard”, he takes the job and quickly searches for his old news team to work alongside him again. But the path to greatness has never run smoothly, Ron having to deal with rivalries with other anchors, a new boss in the form of (to his horror) a woman (Meagan Good), and his own evergrowing stupidity.

Yes, as you can tell from the above plot, not much has changed at all from the first film. However similar proceedings are though, Anchorman 2 is still a funny watch. The jokes are great and outrageous and the quotable one-liners fly about left, right and centre. Will Ferrell is (of course) once again brilliant as Ron Burgundy, one of Ferrell’s funniest character creations. Endlessly quotable, increasingly ridiculous and funny when he doesn’t realise he is being funny. The rest of his news team are again hilarious – other great characters who it is fun to see together again. All 3 are back for this sequel: David Koechner as Champ Kind the mentally unbalanced sports expert who knows nothing about sports, Paul Rudd as Brian Fantana the overly sexual reporter, and of course Steve Carell as Brick Tamland, the childlike and confused weatherman who comes with his very own memorable one-liners. This main cast again works excellently together, the easy (and obvious) improv they often add to scenes helping to flesh out what is a somewhat weak storyline.

As well as a diminutive plot Anchorman 2 does occasionally run into the often seen problem of ‘sequel-itis’. This is recycling the same jokes from the first film in a slightly different context. For the most part Anchorman 2 does avoid this – for the first couple of acts the jokes are fresh and new. Around the halfway mark though the old jokes return, Ferrell and McKay trying to please fans who want to hear the same jokes from the first film. But the balance of new to old becomes uneven, meaning for me it became a little boring after a while to see and hear the same joke about Brick being really, really stupid or Brian and his secret cupboard stashes again. They even completely copy the hilarious epic newsreader battle seen in the first film, however McKay and Ferrell did slightly win me over here by assembling some of the best ever cameos for this scene.

Yet despite this problem of old jokes from the first film often being used, there is something that lifts this overall film above usual sequel fodder and prevents it from being completely throw away. This is the presence of an actual interesting commentary on the state of the news at the moment, in particular rolling news. Ferrell and McKay’s script makes many a valid point about how news now isn’t news, it’s instead merely entertaining stories to get people to tune in, filled with graphics and noise to keep your attention and stop you from turning over. They even have a pop at a certain Aussie mogul and an overblown news network, which is never a bad thing. This commentary is something that Anchorman, for all its greatness, didn’t really have and is therefore a welcome element to the world of Ron Burgundy.

Anchorman 2 is a great comedy that will make you laugh-out-loud more than once, however it does somewhat outstay its welcome at 2 hours. Jokes from the first film are annoyingly reused at parts which can get dull, but an able cast and great cameos keep the laughs flowing, especially a wonderfully downplayed Kristen Wiig and a brilliantly obnoxious James Marsden as a rival anchor. You get the feeling though that this would be a very forgettable film if it weren’t for the spot-on satirisation of the media and the added commentary on the ‘news’ today that Ferrell and McKay have included, lifting this above the usual sequel fare that we often see. However this sequel was never going to be better, more memorable, or more quotable that the first film – a comedy classic that will never get old. If a third film is on the cards it will be the same case too. Still it’s a fun ride while it lasts.

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~ by square-eyed-geek on February 6, 2014.

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