ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES
***1/2 (out of 5)
December 18, 2013
Will Ferrell as RON BURGUNDY
Steve Carell as BRICK TAMLAND
Paul Rudd as BRIAN FANTANA
David Koechner as CHAMP KIND
Meagan Good as LINDA JACKSON
Christina Applegate as VERONICA CORNINGSTONE
Kristen Wiig as CHANI
James Marsden as JACK LIME
Directed by: Adam McKay
BY KEVIN CARR
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There was a certain magic about the film “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.” When it was made, Will Ferrell was very new in the ring of box office stars, with hits like “Old School” and “Elf” only preceding it by a year. Adam McKay was pretty much untested as a feature film director. And Judd Apatow was known as a TV guy and the writer of a few modest films.
There’s something to be said about the little guys making a movie. There were virtually no expectations when it came to the first “Anchorman.” If it bombed, no one would have cared. To that end, it wasn’t an unbridled success. It made a nice profit, and it got decent reviews, but the film didn’t really become beloved until it hit the home video market. Then, the Legend became a legend.
Here we sit, almost ten years later, and things have changed considerably. Will Ferrell (as well as his minor co-star from the first film, Steve Carell) are massive box office stars. Judd Apatow had his ups and downs as a producer and a director. And Adam McKay managed to make a career for himself in films as well. Plus, everyone knew “Anchorman.” It was the new “Caddyshack”: infinitely quotable and the perfect balance between silliness and raunch.
As thrilled as I am that the original film has found its indelible way into the pop culture, that made “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” a dicey proposition. Simply put, it would never live up to the hype.
And it didn’t.
Still, that doesn’t mean that it’s not a very funny movie. It just struggles to live up to the unexpected triumph of its predecessor.
The new film takes place in 1980, with Ron (Ferrell) and wife Veronica (Christina Applegate) on the splits. Ron has fallen on hard times while Veronica is anchoring the national news. However, Ron gets a new opportunity when he is offered a chair on the first-of-its-kind 24-hour news channel. He assembles his crack team of horrible journalists and must prove himself to the station, his ex-wife and the rest of America.
Taken in bits and pieces, “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” has some fantastically funny moments. Like the first film, there’s plenty of one-liner zingers that fly out to catch you by surprise. There’s also plenty (and in some ways, too many) nods to the first film, which plays on nostalgia even if they don’t play well on the timeline of the film.
Unfortunately, the film also suffers from the burden that haunts so many sequels. It tries to do too much with too many characters. The original “Anchorman” story was quite simple: the rise and fall (and rise again) of a news legend. This film is decidedly convoluted at times, featuring subplots of Ron getting it on with his boss, a smarmy corporate executive manipulating the news, Veronica wondering if she should get back with her man, Ron making peace with his son and that general story about starting a 24-hour news network.
As much as I appreciated the laughs-per-minute ratio, it’s pretty clear that everything was thrown at the wall in the writing room, and things were kept in the movie for the joke payoff rather than the flow of the film. This is even more apparent when you look at the original trailer, which is quite funny but consists of multiple scenes that never made their way into the final cut.
With a running time of two hours, “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” feels a bit too long, and considering how much footage had to have been left out, there should be plenty to work with in a “Lost Movie” cut similar to the first film. That should bode well for Blu-ray sales, at least.
While I still enjoyed “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” and I will likely watch it several times in the future, it really is the “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” of the series.