Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (119 minutes, Unrated)
For almost ten years, people have been asking for a sequel to Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy; but once it was announced many realized that the successor would have some ‘big shoes to fill.’ My expectations for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues was naively high, but I should have realized that it could have never surpassed the sheer insanity of the original. That is the conundrum of making sequels: in most cases, studios believe there is a necessity to make the ‘follow-up’ bigger and bolder. But how do you make Anchorman 2 bigger and crazier than its predecessor? This is the main problem that Will Ferrell and Adam McKay faced; and ultimately, this predicament results in a movie that feels forced and pointless.
But surprisingly, the idea that the sequel needs to be bigger is not the major problem of Anchorman 2; in fact, the most notable flaw is the main character himself, Ron Burgundy. In the original Ron is stupid, egotistical, and arrogant, yet his charisma carried the picture; the audience laughs at his stupidity but loves the character because he truly believes in what he is saying. Even when he loses his job, his despair is only in a small part of the movie; but at the same time, he never crossed the threshold of being whiny and annoying.
Meanwhile, in the sequel his charm is instantly gone and Ron seems a shell of what he once was. Yes, Ron’s ego is still bloated, but he does not feel like the character that everyone has grown to love from the original. Automatically, Ron is shown his inferiority and loses his charm for the first sixty minutes of the picture; and throughout that time, his fear of Meagan Good’s Linda Jackson or his feelings of inadequacy when in comparison with Jack Lime (James Marsden) are simply unfunny jokes that linger for too long. Perhaps, I am over analyzing the follow-up to Anchorman, but Ferrell’s title character never regains the magic that is evident in the first picture. And even if the side characters can carry Anchorman 2, the mismanagement of Ron results in the feeling that the scotch drinking 70s anchorman has overstayed his welcome.
As for the side characters, the bloated cast results in a movie that unevenly strays away from the funnier secondary characters, vise vie Carrell’s Brick or Rudd’s Brian Fantana. And even then, these funnier characters are not always comical; a lot of the movie’s jokes feel like they belong on the cutting room floor and not in the final product. But with that said, Paul Rudd and Steve Carrell are easily the highlight of this picture; Rudd’s condom selection sequence or Carrell’s one liners easily remind the viewers why these two were favorites. But again, David Koechner’s Champ, unlike the original, is forced upon the viewers; I liked his character in small doses, but this movie devotes whole scenes to the character, which unsurprisingly fall completely flat.
And unfortunately, the aforementioned bloated cast results in a collection of missed opportunities and sheer failures; Christina Applegate’s Veronica, Greg Kinnear’s Gary, and Dylan Baker’s Freddie are talented comedic performers who are wasted in this sequel. Meanwhile, a good portion of Anchorman 2 is devoted to Meagan Good, who delivers the worst performance of her career; the actress who normally appears wooden, comes across as Pinocchio when trying to achieve comedic timing. And the main nemesis James Lime, the antithesis of Ron Burgundy, comes across as boorish, which could be funny in this hyper realized world of Anchorman; however, Marsden’s comedic skills are wasted on a character that is pointless after the first act. And this goes for plenty of characters that I have yet to mention; the cast is so over-saturated with celebrities that I do not feel bad about forgetting a side character. And even when the jokes hit, the trailer already ruined them; the greatest example of this is the crash sequence that would have been painfully funny without prior knowledge.
The final nail in the coffin of Anchorman 2 is its attempt to satirize the news media. I understand that this movie attempts to make fun of CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and all of the absurd channels that call themselves the news; but either be a satire or be absurd. And yes, I understand that they were trying to show the absurdity of these stations, but the eventual payoff is way too pretentious for my taste. No one watched this movie, to learn a lesson in newsroom etiquette; people watched this for the absurdist humor that he or she witnessed in the original. In the end, what results from this attempt at satirization is a crisis of identity, which further dilutes the already weak absurdist comedy of the sequel.
All these flaws prevent me from fully liking any particular aspect of Anchorman 2; for instance, the infamous fight scene is brought back with several wonderful cameos. And while some of it works, it suffers from the fact that bigger is not always better. The sequence attempts to package way too much, so much so, that the audience’s desensitization results in the lack of impact. And obviously, that is a fitting metaphor for this entire picture; there was so much expectation with the sequel that Adam McKay and Will Ferrell thought they should overload the picture with characters, ideals, and absurdity. But by the end, this mess called a movie resulted in one of the biggest disappointments that I have ever seen. Hopefully, this is the duo’s last attempt at a sequel because their original ideas do not falter under the weight of expectation.