2004′s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy has become such a comedy cult classic that it’s now hard to remember it didn’t play well at the box office when it first opened. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues likely won’t have that problem, but even if it does I don’t think it will fare as well over time. It’s just too flat.
The 1980s finds Ron (Will Ferrell) anchoring network news in New York City with wife Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate). But when their boss promotes her and fires him, Ron hits the skids once again, separating from Veronica and their young son Walter and returning to San Diego. Months later, he’s approached to join the world’s first TV channel dedicated to 24-hour news. It’s a preposterous idea, but Ron takes the job, and soon reunites his old news team: ladies-man field reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), sports cowboy Champ Kind (David Koechner) and witless weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell).
They’re given the graveyard shift, and in desperation to win a bet over ratings with handsome lead anchor Jack Lime (James Marsden), Ron decides to give America the news he thinks it wants: patriotism, sensationalism, and funny animals. The experiment is a huge success, and Ron climbs back to the top, eager to win Veronica back.
The 24-hour news idea is brilliant. It’s full of satirical possibilities, and a strong indictment of our modern shallow obsessions. Unfortunately, Ferrell and co-writer/director Adam McKay can’t come up with much to do with it. Satire needs an extreme to hold up beside reality, and nothing here ever gets pushed that far. Instead, they turn the rest of the movie into one slavish attempt after another to one-up the funniest parts of the original.
This might also be okay, except they don’t succeed there either. Nearly everything is a re-hash of familiar scenes, without much variation or new angle. So while there are occasional chuckles to be wrung from the schoolyard-bully antics of competing news teams, other subplots fizzle and die. Meaghan Good does her very best as Linda Jackson, Ron’s new boss, but his unsettled reaction to her (she’s a woman! and black!) isn’t particularly original, and none of their brief romance really works.
The biggest problem is McKay’s timing: very few of the funny conversations flow with any rhythm, and big action scenes lurch along with all the speed of a drowsy zombie. Nowhere is this more apparent than the seemingly-obligatory return of the news team gang-fight, which has some interesting guest star cameos, but plays out so deliberately that there’s no momentum, and no laughs. In fact, the whole film is almost half an hour longer than the original, and you can definitely feel it.
I can’t doubt the effort that’s been put into Anchorman 2, and it seems as if everyone in it is having fun, but the comedy just isn’t there. If you want a Burgundy fix you’d be better to just stay home and re-watch the original.
Tags: movie review