The original Anchorman was one of the most absurd, unique, and endlessly quotable comedies of the last decade. It was a sleeper hit in 2004 but its fans only grew in numbers, waiting for the inevitable sequel to arrive, which it finally did nine years later. After so much time in the interim, and with all the original cast and crew back for the second time around, you’d hope that this new entry in the adventures of Ron Burgundy and co. would live up to the hype- and I’m happy to say it does.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, is at least as funny and weird as the first movie, packed with obvious improv and one-liners, and gags stacked one on top of the other so that if a joke doesn’t quite hit, it’s only a few seconds before one that does. Like the best sequels, it benefits from a feeling of warm familiarity with characters you already know and love- and here everyone hits the right note, with even the one-dimensional Brick Tamland (Steve Carrell), whose role is bigger this time, expanded to include a sweetly ridiculous love story between him and his female counterpart, Chani (a pitch-perfect Kristen Wiig). Will Ferrell is of course back as the title character, the bumbling buffoon who remains as clueless and stupid, yet oddly loveable as ever, and his news team is rounded out by Paul Rudd and David Koechner, who each get their moments to shine over the course of the film (Keochner’s Champ Kind has some of my favorite, laugh out loud lines in this one).
Anchorman 2 could have settled for a simple reunion movie that repeated the jokes of the first one, but happily, Ferrell and director/writer Adam McKay decided to aim higher- they had a point to make about the state of TV news, and used Ron Burgundy as the vessel through which to do it. When Ron’s fired from the news desk by Mac Tannen (a grizzled Harrison Ford) in favor of his wife Veronica Corningstone (a returning Christina Applegate) for being the “worst anchorman he’s ever seen,” he’s recruited by the upstart GNN, the network to invent the 24-hour news block, and from there the movie proceeds to take aim squarely at the likes of CNN and Fox News, essentially blaming Ron and his news team for every bad thing that’s happened with cable news in the last ten years. It’s sharp, pointed satire about our current news era, but without sacrificing the absurd nature of the Anchorman universe in the slightest (the way they top the news team fight from the first movie is a pretty awesome sight to behold).
For anyone who loved the first Anchorman, I can’t see why you wouldn’t be taken with this one as well, and with any luck, maybe in another ten years Ron, Veronica and the rest of the gang will come back to make fun of whatever the current status of TV journalism is at that time. Until then, we have this to enjoy, and whatever his faults, Ron Burgundy shows more conscience at the end of this movie (albeit thanks to a stint of blindness and bonding time with a baby shark) than most of the corporate blowhards that anchor our television screens on a daily basis today- which is quite a sad state of affairs indeed.