Comedy sequels hardly ever inspire confidence. Most attempt to recapture what worked about the first movie, but that’s never proved to be the right way to go about it. That decision tends to lead to a calculated and stale result, missing the point of why its predecessor caught on with an audience in the first place: it was unexpected. Thankfully we have one exception to the rule, and it’s called Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. Co-writer/director Adam McKay‘s sequel stays in tune with the spirit of the first movie, and sometimes revisits beats as well, but that approach is fitting for characters aren’t exactly fond of change.
Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), Champ Kind (David Koechner), Bryan Fantana (Paul Rudd), and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) are more or less the same people we saw in the first movie. The world is going through changes, but these four haven’t developed in the slightest. Some of the film’s best laughs come from them having to embrace these changes, like, having a black female boss. The movie starts with Ron Burgundy being fired, pushed away from his home, and, worst of all, working at SeaWorld. It’s the beginning of the end until a man, played by Dylan Baker, offers him an unlikely position as an anchor on a 24 hours news station.
At first Burgundy scoffs at the idea, but when money comes into the equation, he takes the job and goes on a road trip to wrangle up his old news team. Bryan Fantana is the only one who’s successful, but they all jump at the opportunity to be back on the nightly news with Ron.
Except they’re not scheduled for prime time. Burgundy and his team have the late, late night shift, while the star of the network, golden boy Jack Lime (James Marsden) gets the nightly news slot. Not being the stars of the network is unbearable for the team, especially Ron. How Burgundy, his team, and McKay go about showing their fight for the #1 spot is done in an hilarious and downright bizarre fashion.
When Anchorman came out it was a shot from nowhere. We didn’t know what to make of it on first viewing — this silly, offbeat comedy about white men in the 70s having their masculinity challenged. Their ignorance is threatened once again in the sequel, and the result is just as strange and possibly just as funny as the first film.
I say “possibly” because there is so much going on in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues that it’ll likely show new layers on repeat viewings. Weeks after seeing the sequel, jokes that didn’t fully land the first time around are now cracking me up. McKay is a director who throws everything into the kitchen sink before throwing that sink on screen, and while most of the gags stick in this instance, more viewings are required to see the full picture.
What’s for sure is that none of the returning cast has lost his or her touch. These characters are old gloves that were tailored made for the actors. They all have their moments, but better yet, they all have moments together. All of these characters can earn laughs on their own, but with the four of them together, it’s quite special indeed.
Not only do they bounce off each other, but there are new additions that fit in nicely. The MVP among them is Marsden. He’s a movie star that studios need to pay more attention to. He can do drama just fine, but he excels at playing complete doofuses. Lime is a scene stealing character, and plenty of credit goes to Marsden for that. He plays Lime as the man Burgundy used to be — young, popular, and hip — and seeing the two of them go at it with immaturity as their weapons is another highlight of the film.
The only new cast member that doesn’t leave as much of an impression, oddly and surprisingly, is Kristen Wiig. Wiig isn’t at fault; it’s that the film is so busy that her role as Tamland’s love interest makes for more of a tangent than an integral part. It’s a welcomed idea, but it often interrupts an otherwise fast pace.
If you’re a fan of the first movie, it’s unlikely you’ll leave the theater disappointed by Ron Burgundy’s return. It’s been almost 10 years since Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, but he, along with his news team, haven’t lost a single satirical step. McKay and all involved have finally given us a comedy sequel that we won’t want to forget about.
The Upside: A worthy followup to the first film; it’s jam packed with instantly quotable lines; some relevant commentary on the state of today’s news media; the epic news team battle; these sexist, oblivious, and immature characters remain lovable
The Downside: Slightly overlong; Brick’s subplot is the reason for that small bloat
On The Side: Years ago Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues was planned as a musical.