Seven years have passed since Will Ferrell and crew brought us Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. This sequel feels like a reunion tour. Ferrell has lead one of the most extensive and thorough media campaigns in recent memory and has saturated the public eye, appearing as Ron Burgundy on late night talk shows and ESPN with Peyton Manning. As we approached the debut date I started to feel like voters in Ohio before a presidential election and I was just ready for it all to be over. But I’ll be the first to admit the campaign worked. I saw Anchorman 2 in theaters the night it debuted, something I haven’t done in years. I was a huge fan of Anchorman which came out when I was in high school. “That really got out of hand fast,” “I love lamp,” “60% of the time it works every time,” and dozens of other quotes filled the school hallways like a fine mist of Axe body spray. The years did not serve the memory kindly, as you can only hear comparisons to used diapers filled with Indian food so many times. Even with this, I was excited for the follow-up, although a little fearful that the movie would be stale as our comedy tastes may have aged away from Anchorman‘s humor.
The movie starts as the legendary newsman Mark Harken (Hlarrison Ford) promotes Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) to primetime news and fires Ron. After being kicked to the curb, Ron has to recollect the old news crew of Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), Champ Kind (David Koechner) and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) and move the team to New York to work on the first 24-hour news channel “Global News Network.” Most of the actors from the original movie return as bigger celebrities than they were in the first (with the notable exception of Koechner who hasn’t dominated the landscape like Rudd and Carell). Joining the old cast is an insane list of cameos featuring seemingly everyone in Hollywood.
Both of the Anchorman movies provide more quotable moments than any recent comedy of memory, serving up one-liners faster than Steven Seagal can take out henchmen. Plot takes a back seat and serves only to create situations into which jokes can be layered. The jokes are largely interchangeable and don’t depend on the plot (“By the hymen of Olivia Newton-John!” can be placed behind pretty much any surprise). This concept creates memorable scenes including Ron having dinner with Meagan Good’s family. Ron, as the only non-“African and American” person makes a fool of himself by trying to blend into the family. Later, Ron raises and bottle feeds a shark. Neither of these scenes push the plot forward (weirdly enough the shark bottle feeding is probably more important to the plot than the dinner) but that doesn’t take away from them. The dinner scene earned some of the best laughs. This randomness is part of the appeal of the movies and also part of what pushes many people away.
The non sequiturs and goofiness of both Anchorman movies feel a lot like Family Guy, with gags that don’t really mean anything in the story. The creators of South Park ripped on Family Guy for being “basically just gags.” Seth MacFarlane, Family Guy’s creator, responded that “cutaways and flashbacks have nothing to do with the story. They’re just there to be ‘funny’. That is a shallow indulgence that South Park is quite above, and, for that, I salute them.”
But this is what most people expect when they pay the price of admission. The gags work well and the relentlessness of their pace keeps the laughs rolling. About every other joke was rewarded with heavy applause, with about as many greeted with crickets. This is better than most comedies and the rhythm of the movie kept the audience laughing. It might not be the best comedy writing but it pulls off plenty of laughs.
Comedy movies are tough. Even terrible action movies don’t have to work hard to be watchable (as long as they keep to the accepted B-movie plot lines). Comedies on the other hand can get unbearable quickly. Anchorman 2 isn’t perfect and it can be overly goofy, but it’s funny. Very funny at parts. It was probably 30 minutes too long for it’s own good but it was worth the long wait.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 75% (Difference of -0.5)
Where to see it: This depends on personal preference. If you liked the first movie, it’d be worth it to see it in theaters to get the theater laughter. Otherwise wait for the DVD, or skip it if you hated the first Anchorman. This is basically the same thing.
Stay classy internet,
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