The long-awaited Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues hit theaters last week, and I got a chance to see it today. I have to say that, overall, the film wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. The laughs were there, but I don’t think they were as belly-filled as the first Anchorman. If anything, the film was on-par with the first in terms of humor, but it does suffer from several perplexing missteps.
In Anchorman 2, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), who is separated from his wife Veronica (a severely underused Christina Applegate), takes an anchor job at GNN, a 24 hour cable news network (the first of its kind). He recruits his old news team, and they, quite by accident, slowly begin to revolutionize the way news is presented (telling the people what they want to hear, not what they need to hear).
I liked a lot of elements of this story. In particular, I loved how they placed Ron as the historical catalyst the change on how news is reported with sensationalism and nonsensical stories a (and non-stories). In many ways, there is a slight satirical bite on what Anchorman 2 has to say about cable news today. And, they do it just enough without getting preachy and in-your-face about it.
I also have to give some love to James Marsden who is absolutely brilliant as Jake Lime, Ron’s main rival at GNN. Marsden is always great in anything he is ever in, and he thrives in supporting roles such as these. I honestly wish he was given more to do in the movie, but as is, he’s great especially in one sequence where he sarcastically uses Ron’s signature line of “stay classy” (which is the only time in the film it is uttered).
Where the film faults is that it really feels as if Farrell and director Adam McKay were just trying too hard at times. This movie is just so overstuffed with material that one can’t really get a handle of what this movie is truly about. Is it about Ron’s ignorance with race relations? About his deteriorating relationship with his wife and son? About his rivalry with Lime? About letting fame get to him? Anchorman 2 deals with all of these things, but it really comes off feeling unfocused. While the first film had a ton of zany jokes, it also had a narrative through-line which kept everything together.
Not helping matters is that there is an extended subplot for Steve Carell’s Brick in which he falls in love with a receptionist (Kristen Wiig). I know Carell’s star is risen significantly since the first Anchorman, but his character is so one-joke, that he really can’t support a storyline. Brick works great as part of the group, but not really on his own. I am really not convinced this was needed.
The thing I liked with the original Anchorman was that it was such a cartoon in the sense of how zany it was. Anchorman 2 really loses that factor, which really disappointed me. Honestly, it doesn’t get really crazy until the last fifteen minutes or so, and then they crank the insanity up to eleven. The movie reuses a gag from the original, but in a new way. It works wonderfully. I would highly encourage you to avoid any spoilers solely for this sequence.
Would I recommend Anchorman 2? I’m not sure. I wasn’t disappointed by it. I do wish it was a little better. The film never strives to be more than it is, which I suppose is a good thing. However, I am not really sure that the film totally works on its own. If you are a fan of the original, go check it out. It is more of the same, even if some of the energy from the original isn’t quite there.
Edited to Add: Definitely avoid spoilers on the cameos in the film. They work so well and knowing who is appearing would likely ruin the impact of the gags.