Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
The legend of Ron Burgundy has only grown stronger and stronger since the release of the original film in 2004, from a film that hardly set the box office alight to cult curio thanks to a resurgence on DVD, to beloved stone cold comedy classic, with Ron and Co’s faces appearing on everything from t-shirts to mouse mats. Anchorman 2, nearly ten years later, returns to the newsrooms of decades gone by for a film that’s occasionally funny, but more often than not an outright failure.
Ron (Will Ferrell) is fired from his job as a news anchor while his wife and co-host (a wasted Christina Applegate) is promoted. Naturally Ron doesn’t take this well, and when the chance to front a new 24 hour news network arises, Ron must get the old News Team back and win the ratings war. Reintroducing the characters generates a lot of early laughs, whether its Paul Rudd’s Brain Fantana, now a cat photographer, Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) reading a eulogy at his own funeral or Champ (David Koechner) doing…well, Champ was never funny anyway. But with the introductions out of the way we fall into a very loose plot with gags thrown at it to see what sticks. The problem being that whereas in the first film they only kept the good jokes, here perhaps due to the overwhelming popularity of the characters they’ve not only kept in what sticks (not much) but also whatever fell on the floor as well (most of the movie) which explains the unnecessary two hour runtime.
Perhaps it’s due to the anticipation for the sequel, that in an attempt to maximise the gags they’ve tried to reverse engineer the ‘lightning in a bottle’ formula of the first film which goes against the very ethos of freewheeling improvisational nature that made it such a joy. Ron, Brick et al feel as though they were written by committee which doesn’t breed good comedy. And when they run out of new jokes to tell, they rely on rehashes of everyone favourite bits from the first film. It reeks of desperation – “Hey, remember that bit you loved before? Well here it is again but bigger, stuffed with even more cameos to distract you from the fact that second time around it’s Not Very Funny.” There are long stretches with gags that barely raise a chuckle, and worse still an entire subplot with Ron going blind and singing an ode to a shark he’s been bottle feeding, which actually sounds quite funny now that I’ve written it down, but on screen it’s the least funny scene in a comedy this year. And I sat through The Hangover Part 3.
With no straight man to counter the lunacy of the four main characters you’re left with a film in which there are no limits (a famous and respected actor turns into a were-hyena at one point. Seriously.) and everyone is trying to shout louder than everyone else, none more so than Ferrell whose Burgundy, a loveable buffoon in the first film is now a screaming idiot in this. The original wasn’t the most subtle of films but The Legend Continues, despite valiant attempts to make some satirical statements about 24 hour news, makes it seem almost arthouse in comparison.
There are shining lights among the murk however; Steve Carell’s Brick is still an absolute delight, stealing scenes with hilarious non-sequiturs and getting the best scene in the entire movie (“Where are my legs?”) and Paul Rudd’s lines as womaniser Brain Fantana work every time. Well, 60% of the time, they work every time.
Not belly laugh inducing, or for the most part not even chuckle inducing. Disappointing.
Review by Jonathan Cardwell.
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