With a new joke introduced every few minutes, the sheer quantity of wisecracks provides such overwhelming odds for laughter that it’s no surprise that “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” trumps its predecessor in risible catch phrases and unrelenting lunacy. Quantity over quality isn’t always an asset, and this sequel undoubtedly runs too long, but the truly clever witticisms remain memorable even if the majority of the dialogue is drenched in pure absurdity. At times it’s hit-or-miss; Ron Burgundy’s random expletives and Brian Fontana’s World Famous Jimmy Cabinet offer sidesplitting hilarity, while Brick Tamland’s doltish romance and concepts ripped straight from Austin Powers and Jay and Silent Bob quickly lose their charm. But director Adam McKay has had nine years to figure out exactly what worked in Burgundy’s original adventure and, for the most part, he’s isolated it and amplified it.
When renowned anchorman Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) is suddenly terminated from WBC evening news, and his wife Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) is promoted, his life spirals out of control. Six months later, Burgundy is alone, drunk, and employed as an announcer at Sea World, but is soon fired for continued misconduct (such as sexually molesting starfish). After a failed attempt to hang himself, the washed-up journalist is approached by Freddie Shapp (Dylan Baker) and offered a job at GNN, the world’s first 24-hour news network. Gathering up his old team, consisting of sportscaster Champ Kind (David Koechner), field correspondent Brian Fontana (Paul Rudd), and weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), Burgundy heads to New York City to once again reach the ratings apex with his unorthodox brand of reporting.
If ever there was an anti-Paddy Chayefsky, anti-Sidney Lumet’s “Network” movie, it would be “Anchorman 2.” And Ferrell is his own style of loose cannon, hell-raising, uncontrollably ranting Howard Beale. This time around, after nearly a decade has separated the long anticipated follow-up to Ferrell’s early success (and the first of his spoofs of factitious-celebrity), the self-aware, self-indulgent shenanigans haven’t been given enough editing attention, allowing the scatterbrained, often abstract painting-like skits to saunter off in all directions. Many go on for too long, while others are of such spontaneous, random, unexplainably tangential strangeness that they clearly resemble the trademark cutaways of the “Family Guy” TV show. With all of the distorted expressions and the overdone CG finale, it’s decidedly cartoonish.
Paying homage to itself repeatedly, this sequel has the sensibility to revisit memorable gags and amplify them – regularly well beyond reason. With the expected sexism, racism, rivalries, and immoderate innuendo comes new themes of modernism, ethical news sourcing, synergy, and familial priorities as it satirically chronicles the evolution of televised journalism. It’s also peppered with animal noises, crying, grating voice warm-ups, brawling, heroism, and sustained yelling. Cameos are amusingly abundant, Carell has been reduced to a raving lunatic, background details provide many of the funniest bits, and the chaotic nonsense level is immeasurably high. Laugh-out-loud moments do occur, but at approximately two hours in length, a few of the sillier stunts definitely should have been trimmed.
- The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)