‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues’ is an absurd mashup of well-loved characters from the original ‘Anchorman’ in a series of largely nutty skits in what can only, loosely, be called a sensical plot. Somehow, although imperfect, the hypnotic ludicrousness often works.
The news boys (Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, and David Koechner) and girl (Christina Applegate, continuing her role as Veronica Corningstone) from the original ‘Anchorman’ are back in a big way, as the series has only grown in cult status since the characters were first introduced nearly 10 years ago. ‘Anchorman’ was, indeed, a modest hit that bloomed, and, as a result, expectations have been high for this big-budget sequel with omnipresent movie tie-ins (from Dodge Durango to Jockey underwear).
In this second go-round (taking place somewhere around 1980), the ostensible plot follows narcissistic newsreader and famous San Diegan Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and his news crew from California to their new positions as the graveyard-shift on-air personalities of a brand-new 24-hour news channel based in New York, Global News Network (GNN). Grappling for ratings (and attention), Burgundy’s grab for high overnight numbers appears to promote the downfall of modern television journalism, as the well-coiffed anchor covers the first live car-chase, harps on Americana, and litters the screen with numerous distracting graphics. Ultimately, Burgundy’s rise to fame on the national scale leads to conflict with his now-estranged wife, Veronica (Applegate), their 7-year-old son, Walter (Judah Nelson), and his formerly stalwart friends.
Previously, the original ‘Anchorman’ had a version of a logical plot, peppered with highly quotable ‘Burgundy-isms.’ But, ‘Anchorman 2’ is almost like a series of back-to-back ‘episodes’ of high (and low) comedy, ranging from scorpion attacks and bottle-feeding of a shark to Burgundy’s supposedly sublime ice skating routine while playing his pan-sounding flute. The wacky film feels as though it was made for future late-night screenings, playing directly into the assumption that its intended ridiculousness will give it instant cult-status cred.
Many jokes work because they are unpredictable, leading to numerous laugh-out-loud moments. And, yet, other set-ups fall flat and feel dated and unfunny, like Burgundy’s attempt to be ‘down’ with the African-American family of GNN 'head honcho,' Linda Jackson (Meagan Good). Frequent and surprising cameos (that I won’t spoil here) buoy the film, though, leading to spot-the-star fun even when the paper-thin plot briefly sinks. Further, Brick (Steve Carell’s) burgeoning (and very weird) romance with Chani (series newcomer Kristen Wiig, reuniting with Carell as a love interest after ‘Despicable Me 2’) is a pleasure to behold, and each moment we are witness to their kooky love is satisfying.
In sum, ‘Anchorman 2’ provides a welcome respite from all the heavy movies of the holiday season, but enjoying the inanity means checking your logical expectations at the box office. ‘Anchorman 2’ is daft but witty, long-winded but often hilarious. ‘Anchorman 2’ is rated 3+ of 5 stars (‘recommended’).
‘Anchorman 2' is rated PG-13 for ‘crude and sexual content, drug use, language and comic violence.’
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