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Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)

| December 25, 2013 | 0 Comments

It’s hard to hate a movie that involves fried bats.  Obviously that’s not the funniest joke in the world but you have to give the screenwriters of “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” points for trying.  Here’s a movie that will do almost anything to get a laugh.  It is as silly, stupid, goofball and as nonsensical as its predecessor, and actually funnier – that’s key.  This is one of those movies with a joke about every 30 seconds, the success ratio of which is about 60%.  You laugh when the movie is working, and when the jokes don’t work you at least appreciate writers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay for their efforts.

If you’ve seen the original, then you pretty much know what you’re getting here.  The relief is that the sequel at least tries something new.  The news team of KVWN have moved from their polyester world of the 1970s into the 1980s (well, 1980 at least).  The story this time finds doofus news-reader Ron Burgundy now married to Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), and with a young son named Walter.  Yet, Ron’s cozy little world is rocked when the station’s lead newsman (played by a very funny Harrison Ford, sporting Peter Jenning’s hair) gives Veronica the lead anchor position and gives Ron his walking papers – accompanied by a montage of Ron cussing on air and before sneezing into the camera lens.  Needless to say, Ron’s Jupiter-sized male ego can’t handle the pressure so he and Veronica break up.

A ray of hope falls on Ron’s broken world when he is offered a position with a simple but laughable new experiment in 24 hour television news, called GNN.  They want Ron as anchor and even allow him to bring along the old gang – field reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), sportscaster Champ Kind (David Koechner) and weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carrell).  Moving to the upscale world of serious news, with serious integrity, one of the film’s best inventions is that not only are Ron and friends onboard at the launch of cable news, but they become single-handedly responsible for bringing it to its knees.  They become a ratings blockbuster by reporting the kinds of fluff and trash that dominate television news today, even news that tries to be serious.

This plot is basically a very thin clothesline on which to hang the jokes, and there are many.  It is also one of about a dozen plots that don’t string together very well.  Besides the plot about GNN, there’s the story of Ron and Veronica; Ron’s competition at the network with a superstar golden boy anchor named Jack Lime (James Marsden); Ron’s nearly disastrous coupling with Linda Jackson (Meagan Good) a news director that he can’t help pointing out is a black woman.  There’s Ron’s nearly broken bond with his son and an errant shark named Doby (don’t ask).  Then there’s a bizarre (and mericifully brief) coupling between Brick and a milquetoast secretary named Chani (Kristen Wiig) that could have been funnier.  This is the second time this year – after Despicable Me 2 – that Wiig and Steve Carrell have played a romantic couple.  This time it doesn’t work.  This is a movie that leaves the plane of reality, but Carrell seems to be playing a character from another dimension.  It’s not as funny as it should be.  He’s like something from one of the lesser Monty Python skits.

Yet, much of “Anchorman 2” does work.  The percentage of laughs is about half.  You laugh at something and then the next five jokes fall flat, but Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s script keeps trying.  True, many of their jokes are retreads of stuff from the first movie, such has Brian’s cologne collection – here it’s condoms.  There’s a rehash of the gladiator battle, this time with a large number of famous cameos.  Some funny, some not.  The difference this time is that the combatants come from rival basic cable channels like the BBC, ESPN and The History Channel.  You can’t call it brilliant comedy, but you give it points for trying.  There’s something to admire about a movie that borrows a subplot from “Ice Castles.”


About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2013) Filed in: Comedy