ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES
DIRECTED BY Adam McKay
STARS Will Ferrell, Steve Carell
ACTION NEWS: Ron (Will Ferrell) and Brick (Steve Carell) prepare for battle in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. (Photo: Paramount)
By the hymen of Olivia Newton-John! A sequel that's better than the original? I don't know how to put this, but that's kind of a big deal.
While many folks have loved 2004's Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy since day one, I trashed it upon its original release, only reevaluating it years later after countless friends who likewise dissed it assured me it was better on a second viewing. They were right: The laughs suddenly seemed more smart-stupid and less stupid-stupid, and the lunkheaded protagonists were easier to take this time around. Happily, there's no lag time when it comes to enjoying Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, as this one's a champ (no, not Champ Kind) right out the gate.
Newscasters Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) are now married and have a young son, but things turn sour when the network head (the first of many amusing cameos) promotes Veronica to the national desk and fires Ron. This leads Ron to a drunken gig at SeaWorld (an icky and unfortunate partnership for the studio and the film, given that heinous organization's inhumane treatment of animals; see the excellent documentary Blackfish), but it's not long before he's offered the chance to serve as an anchor for the world's first 24-hour news network — a concept that Ron declares is the stupidest idea he's ever heard. But he takes the job, assembling his old team in the process: sportscaster Champ Kind (David Koechner), weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) and newshound Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd).
As these jokers attempt to make it in the brave new world of around-the-clock news, Ferrell and director Adam McKay, sharing screenplay duties, manage to inject their tale with jabs at numbing media saturation, crooked Australian moguls and sensationalism passed off as real news. None of these are exactly fresh subjects — for starters, 1987's Broadcast News expertly tackled that last-named in one single sequence — but it demonstrates that there's subtext here for anyone who wants to look. But, of course, who really wants to look? Comedy is king here, and much of Anchorman 2 is uproarious, from a great bit involving scorpions and bowling balls to an outdoor skirmish like in the first film, only with more guest appearances (Oscar winners, A-listers, TV stars; it's an embarrassment of riches). Carell again steals the show as the thick-as-a-brick Brick — his character is even romantically paired with an equally dense woman played by Kristen Wiig — but really, everyone gets into the spirit of silliness, and some of them even manage to stay classy while doing so.