Will Ferrell and Adam McKay are the reigning dream team of cinematic comedy. In 2004, they unleashed “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” on moviegoers, and theater patrons were never the same after meeting Mr. Burgundy. In the meantime, they’ve poked fun at Nascar(“Talledega Nights”) and adults behaving like children(“Step Brothers”), all to hilarious effect. Nine years later, they return to Burgundy, and Ferrell and McKay do the unthinkable. After nearly a decade has passed, the two deliver an excellent sequel that pays homage to the first(without feeling like it’s re-hashing ideas) while taking the new story down some truly hilarious roads.
When “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” opens, Ron Burgundy and Veronica Corningstone are comfortable in a happy marriage. But if anyone knows Ron, it won’t take him long to screw things up. And he certainly does, after he is fired from his job as co-anchor of the New York news desk he and his wife share. Veronica gets promoted to the primetime anchor position, and of course Ron can’t handle his jealousy. He gives her an ultimatum, but she naturally chooses the pursuit of her passion.
High and dry, Ron returns to San Diego. He ends up working at Sea World as a dolphin show announcer, but one too many drinks and a microphone don’t mix. After getting fired in his dressing room, he meets a man who wants to recruit him for a new type of news network: GNN(Global Network News), a 24-hour news outlet. This scene is one of the first that hints at the potential of “Anchorman 2.” Ron has hit rock bottom, and his frankness and blatant honesty with this man he’s never met is cause for laughs.
With Ron working in television journalism once again, he sets out to gather his since-disbanded news team. Like any worthy sequel, “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” feels far bigger than the original, and it actually is: at just under two hours, it is nearly twenty minutes longer than the first chapter in Ron Burgundy’s story. The sequel is as much a roller coaster as the first, as Ron once again rises to the top, only to hit bottom and have to redeem himself anew. And this time around, director McKay and Ferrell have written an absolutely tremendous rock bottom(when the entire cast isn’t ad-libbing, anyhow). An extended bit between Brian(Paul Rudd) and Ron had this reviewer nearly gasping for breath; it is purely relentless, crazy hilarity as Brian calls Ron out on his every exaggeration.
Up until this point, “This Is The End” seemed like it would be the funniest film of the year. But “Anchorman 2” might just nose out a win in the final sprint. Perhaps the viewer has to be a true fan of these characters and the Burgundy myth to really be on board. Perhaps not. Either way, folks looking for a great comedy have an early holiday present. Ron’s frequent use of catchphrases(“By the beard of Zeus!”) seems a little forced this time around, but everything else feels truly inspired. This is the rare case where a film sequel might have surpassed the original. Perhaps it’s not a better movie all around, but it certainly seems a lot funnier. Mr. Ferrell, Mr. McKay: keep doing what you do.