Anthony's Film Review
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)
It's too bad that this comedy sequel doesn't stay classy like its predecessor...
For those of you who have seen the 2004 comedy film Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, you will recall the scene where two teams of local news reporters prepare to engage in an alley fight, before news anchor teams from other television stations join the melee. It's a funny scene because of the absurdity of it all, not to mention the goofy items they use as weapons (like a trident) and the recognizable actors who make unexpected cameos here. Whatever it is that stands out the most, the scene will surely send people rolling into the aisles in laughter. I know I did. (OK, I didn't literally roll into the aisles, but I did lose my breath at the time because I was laughing so hard.)
In the 2013 sequel Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, that kind of scene appears again. It's done in a much more over-the-top fashion this time around, and one can even argue that it goes on a little too long. Otherwise, there are new unexpected cameo appearances and a few new weapons for this brawl. So now you're wondering why I'm talking about this scene. Well, it's simple. For me, this scene is pretty much the only scene in Anchorman 2 that I thought was genuinely funny.
You heard that right. This is a movie that will unfortunately disappoint those who loved the first Anchorman movie. It's a movie that you want to laugh along with while watching it, but you can only force yourself to laugh unnaturally. Part of the problem is that the humor is too raunchy, politically incorrect, or delivered too forcefully, all resulting in an unfunny comedy. The other part of the problem is that the plot is disjointed and unfocused, so there's barely a reason to laugh at the jokes. There are seeds for comedy planted, but they either do not grow or just barely grow at all.
Consider how the story begins. Anchorman Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) works with anchorwoman Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) in national news, and the two are also married with a son. However, Ron's ego and chauvinistic ways quickly get him fired by a retiring nightly news anchor (Harrison Ford in a cameo role) and ruin his marriage. Several months later, Ron accepts a job as anchor for a new 24-hour cable news channel called GNN and reunites his former local news team for this new gig: the handsome Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), the drawling Champ Kind (David Koechner), and the nerdy weirdo Brick Tamland (Steve Carell).
As you can see, the seeds for comedy are planted. You could have a plot about Ron Burgundy being successful at GNN to get revenge on his old network, along with satirical jokes about the rise of cable news. At one point in the film, Ron finds himself in a sexual relationship with his boss, so there can also be good scenes involving a love triangle or more jokes about Ron's masculinity. It's not like Anchorman 2 has no good ideas to work with. If anything, the opportunities are plenty.
Yet, what do we get? A two-hour movie with a lack of focus. Throughout the movie, I kept waiting to find out what the main story would be, but I never saw it. There was nothing significant related to Ron Burgundy's rise back to stardom, his family, his friends, or even the rivalry he has with another GNN anchor. The film jumped from one thing to another and never hanged onto one thing for a long time. And without a good story to follow, the jokes are pointless. They're only a distraction from telling a story, not a means to make the story even more interesting and funny.
And speaking of jokes, I want to throw in two more adjectives to describe them. In addition to being raunchy, politically incorrect, and delivered too forcefully, they're also stupid and pointless. There are things like genitalia references and tasteless comments made at a dinner with an African-American family. There are also moments that include Brick Tamland meeting his match (yes, there is also a weirdo woman in this movie), Ron Burgundy going through a health crisis (the problem he has is definitely contrived here), and Ron raising a pet shark (need I say more?). These jokes are nothing like the clever and silly ones from the first Anchorman movie.
A good comedy tells a funny story with jokes that fit in with the story and also enhance it. The first Anchorman movie does that well, but not the second one. And believe me. I REALLY wanted to like Anchorman 2. In fact, in the days leading up to the film's theatrical release, I noticed some television commercials featuring Ron Burgundy advertising Dodge vehicles. I especially remember one where he's comparing an SUV to a horse. ("On my right is the new Dodge Durango with up to 360 horsepower. On my left... is one horse, with one horsepower. [Turning to horse] It makes you feel pretty dumb, doesn't it?") Sadly, that 30-second commercial and the other Burgundy Dodge ads are funnier than the two-hour Anchorman sequel that has promise but nothing to show for it. Before, Ron Burgundy would tell his viewers to "stay classy," but this time around, he fails to follow his own advice for Anchorman 2.
For more information about Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my review of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.