Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Review
With a hefty advertising campaign, Rob Burgundy has seemingly been everywhere apart from cinema screens. The promotional surge has taken advantage of a comic character that’s still regularly in fans’ memories, with enough distance for a sequel to gain curiosity. There’s more logic in writing another chapter after Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, given how the series is really gags and characters stuck in their ways. With an established ensemble, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is like a second season of a sitcom – one where everyone involved is, ironically, too big for TV. In that sense, much is repeated, but with an even faster gag rate and awareness of what the viewer wants.Will Ferrell reprises the anachronistic newscaster Burgundy with ease, as do his broadcasting gang: Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and Champ Kind (David Koechner), while Adam McKay returns as director and co-writer. In fact, Anchorman 2 applies some unexpected satire about modern news reporting. While in the first film Burgundy finally accepts women in the workforce, he now has to contend with the concept of a 24-hour news channel and working for a black woman (Linda, played by Meagan Good). Okay, it’s not exactly The Day Today, but it’s something.The news crew’s idiocy fits in with what turns out to be a formula for popular news stories. Burgundy accepts he can’t compete with “real news”, so what’s the solution? Report what America wants to hear.The dumbed down stories score highly with viewers and, if changed to page views, applies to a certain type of buzz journalism (displayed as a feed). Brick invents dangerous weather stories when there are none. Fantana counts down his favourite vaginas. The first news slot contains nine animal stories in three hours.For a while (approximately the first half), this storyline does fine as it’s propelled by so many one-liners it’s impossible to catch them all – at least, in a packed screening where laughter makes some points inaudible. On paper, many of the gags fail. (Imagine explaining an “I love lamp” t-shirt to a stranger.) In fact, several setups are glaringly obvious. Yet, when guessing the punchline, an unexpected one-liner appears. With familiarity, everyone’s reaction shot becomes its own joke. Some of the jokes might follow on from the first film, but I would contend these characters thrive on repetition – all that’s meant to change is the world around them. I wasn’t a biggest fan of the original, and find this to be a step up: Burgundy is so finely established that he’s practically the straight man, making his surroundings to adapt to him.There is a 30-minute gap, however, when the 24-hour news plot strand fizzles out after an hour, before an astonishing finale. Anchorman 2 is far too long at 119 minutes, considering its lack of dramatic intensity, tension or emotional value. Think back to how the original was cut to 91 minutes, despite having enough footage for its outtakes sequel Wake Up, Ron Burgundy. Several scenes are obviously the product of lengthy improvisations, given the inconsistent editing of Brick’s introduction and much of Ron’s body language, and I’d be curious if a rumoured alternate version pops up.Considering how much advertising has been funnelled towards the Burgundy character (including an autobiography available in shops), a large gamble was taken with finances, time and reputation. It largely works. And given the cameos (which I won’t spoil), McKay and Ferrell are also intent on pulling the rug beneath the viewer – while laying a familiar blanket underneath.