When Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy came out in 2004, it was a modest success, taking in around $85 million. But it was an exercise in supreme silliness that failed to fully capitalize on the success Will Ferrell had had with his first starring role in Elf the previous year.
Since then, though, Ferrell has had many more hits and the cult of Anchorman has continued to grow, so it was only a matter of time before Ferrell would get his news team back together. In Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Burgundy (Ferrell), Champ Kind (David Koechner), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) find themselves immersed in the burgeoning early days of 24-hour cable news in the 1980s.
The plot doesn’t matter in the slightest with this kind of film. Every twist and turn is just an excuse for ridiculousness.
Burgundy is challenged by many different changes this time around, including his wife, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), being promoted to a lead network anchor; Jack Lime (James Marsden), a younger, more attractive rival at new network GNN; and Linda Jackson (Meagan Good), his new producer who’s not only female but also, as he can’t stop saying, black.
The story, such as it is, follows the same basic formula of rise, fall and redemption that the first one does, but let’s be honest: The plot doesn’t matter in the slightest with this kind of film. Every twist and turn is just an excuse for another sight gag, one-liner or other such ridiculousness.
And, just as in the original, the film has its fair share of both hits and misses. Burgundy’s approach on how to deliver a national newscast is pure gold, as he’s shown initiating many of the inane things that have become news staples over the years. But most of his conflicts with other people fall flat, mostly because it’s a case of been there, done that.
Carell, who had yet to become a star when the first film came out, is given significantly more screen time here, with mixed results. Brick gains a love interest in a character played by Kristen Wiig, who can act dumb just as well as Carell can. A little Brick Tamland can go a long way, and doubling up the dumb quotient is just a bit too much.
However, the film is redeemed with a redo of a showdown between news teams, a scene that was a relative throwaway in the first film. This time, a host of cable networks are represented by one big guest star after another, including many you wouldn’t expect. In a film that needs memorable moments in order to fly, this is a great big soaring one.
Anchorman 2 doesn’t really seem to fit in with all the other prestige and holiday movie releases coming out at Christmastime, but for anyone looking for a little mindless fun, it more than meets the mark.