Mark Reviews Movies

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues


1 ½ Stars (out of 4)

Director: Adam McKay

Cast: Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, Meagan Good, James Marsden, Josh Lawson, Kristen Wiig, Dylan Baker, Judah Nelson

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for crude and sexual content, drug use, language and comic violence)

Running Time: 1:59

Release Date: 12/18/13

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Review by Mark Dujsik | December 20, 2013

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues doesn't duplicate the same setup or jokes (well, save for one that becomes nothing more than excuse for a string of cameos) as its predecessor, but it does repeat the same central mistake. Like the first movie, the sequel squanders its promising satirical premise—gender politics in the media in the first movie and the advent of the 24-hour news channel in this one—for gags that really have nothing to do with the situation or even the characters. By the time our chauvinistic hero is nursing a baby great white shark (Yes, you read that correctly, but hey, at least he uses a bottle), the movie has essentially gotten into a competition with itself to come up with more absurdly unrelated jokes with each successive scene.

Admittedly, some of it amusing, and in fact, when the cobbled-together screenplay by star Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay focuses on the silly workings of the news network in question, the movie has some satirical bite, even if the observations are as obvious as the joke of having the network's name be GNN. The movie has something to say about the over-saturated media going to non-news-worthy lengths to capture an audience's attention, but when the movie gets to a long speech explaining why that undermines the purpose of journalism, we have to wonder just how many disparate attitudes are here.

The story picks up some years after the first one in the year 1980. One at least has to appreciate that the movie uses its setting as a fact and not as fodder for lazy jokes about outdated technology and contemporary fads (More technical-minded folks, though, will wonder why television broadcasts of the era are shot in scope).

Anyway, Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) and his wife Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) are now co-anchors on a national network's weekend news program, and the weeknight newsman is about to retire after 30 years on the job. Veronica gets the gig, and Ron is fired, sending him into a downward spiral of self-loathing that involves him drunkenly announce a dolphin show at a theme park and fail at a suicide attempt.

Walking in on the distraught Ron is Freddie Shapp (Dylan Baker), who's seeking on-air talent for the first 24-hour news channel. Ron thinks it's a terrible idea but can't pass up the pay, so he takes the job on the condition of being able to select his own team.

We get reacquainted with the supporting characters who, in the first movie, seemed important at the beginning but ultimately had little to do with story as it progressed, and they get to go through the same motion here. Champ Kind (David Koechner), the sports reporter who knows nothing about sports and eventually uses this as a strength in his new job by just presenting highlights, owns a fried chicken restaurant that actually sells fried bat meat. Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), the investigative reporter who later focuses on sex for his stories, is a successful photographer of cats. Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), the incredibly dumb weatherman, is presumed dead but ends up giving his own eulogy, gradually having to be convinced that he's actually alive.

Because of a bet with the network's star anchor Jack Lime (James Marsden), Ron and his team accidentally become the prototype for the sort of sensationalistic excuse for journalism that modern cable news has become. They cover a local car chase, a story about a woman who cut off her husband's penis, the rankings of women's genitalia throughout history, and package it all in phony patriotism. It would be funny, but it's basically a copy of exactly what we see today on the 24-hour news cycle.

Worse, though, is that these characters become grating rather quickly. Ron in particular is just a walking, talking ego that has no ability to self-censor, leading to a few uncomfortable and unfunny scenes involving his boss (Meagan Good), to whom Ron continually says the word "black" upon first meeting her because she's a black woman. It's at least less offensively annoying than when he tries to affect a certain way of speaking while having dinner with her family.

Yes, Ron is the butt of the joke, but that joke just isn't funny in big doses (The exception is a consistently amusing—but still too long—sequence in which he becomes blind and either refuses or is unable to use his other senses). That, though, gives Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues far too much credit by implying the movie actually has some kind of comedic philosophy beyond blindly throwing darts at a dartboard.

Copyright © 2013 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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