Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is a celebration of fun. I find no need to dig deeper for a coherent storyline or consistent satirical play. Yes, there is a coherent storyline, and there is heaps of satire, but I’m not about to sue the scriptwriters for veering off course from time to time to focus on the maniacal ecstasy of Ron Burgundy and his crew, because most of the time the places the story veers off to are incredibly funny.
The movie, directed by Adam McKay, is a followup to 2004’s cult classic, Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy, and despite the near 10-year gap between films, none of the comic energy or zany writing seems to have disappeared. Ron (Will Ferrell) is still a chauvinist pig but with a more racist tone. His co-anchors are still either sex-crazed, sports-crazed, or mentally challenged. His lover from the first film — and wife now — Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) is still an ambitious fox. And the retro vibe that uplifts the story is still glaringly present in every shot and every vein. This movie is a bag of laughs, and the way it’s built signifies no intention to be anything else.
Alright. So where do I begin?
Ron and Veronica are happily married. They have an eerily sweet and pleasant son named Walter (Judah Nelson), and they live in comfort in New York City. One day, their boss (the omnipresent Harrison Ford) decides to promote Veronica and fire Ron — “You are the worst newscaster I’ve ever known”. This sparks a heated argument that ultimately leads to the couple’s separation. Six months later, Ron is hired to be one of the pioneering anchors of a new news network, GNN, which will run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To Ron, this is a ridiculous idea. Who runs boring news for 24 hours? Who’s going to plop themselves in front of a TV and listen to reports of global warming at 2 in the morning? All fair questions.
Ron reassembles his old news team, made up of womaniser Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), possible homoerotic sports fanatic Champ Kind (David Koechner), and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), whose name couldn’t be any more appropriate, and takes the job. Along the way, they will participate in dirty jokes, cruel pranks, some love-making, and so on; they will form a bitter rivalry with the handsome and popular primetime anchor Jack Lime (James Marsden) — after losing a silly bet, he officially changes his name to Jack Lame — and they will revolutionise the art of news broadcasting without even knowing it. For instance, while brainstorming story ideas for their inaugural graveyard shift broadcast, Ron’s team decides to give the people what they want, instead of what they need. They choose to focus the broadcast on Americana, and wouldn’t you know it, drunks and partygoers all across the city begin cheering and applauding their local pub television sets (there’s nothing else to watch at 2am).
Much of this movie is very, very funny. A lot of time is devoted to Brick Tamland, which might seem like a nonsensical idea but actually pays off with large amounts of satisfaction. When the first Anchorman premiered in 2004, Carell’s most popular work was still Evan Baxter from Bruce Almighty (coincidentally, he was also a newsman). In 2013, he is one of the biggest names not just in comedy, but in drama too. A few days ago I watched and reviewed The Way Way Back. In it, Carell played an adulterous jerk whose cheeks and jaw were perpetually stubbled and whose outlook on life scorned at the face of humour. He was superb. In Anchorman 2, he is just as superb as the air-headed Brick, who spends much of his time laughing at things that are unknown even to himself. The script also has room for his love interest, played dutifully by Kristen Wiig. Some of their meet-cutes are so idiotically awkward that you can’t help but laugh.
Among some of the supporting characters are Linda Jackson (Meagan Good), whose African-American descent puts Ron off completely; Freddie Shapp, played by the reliable Dylan Baker; and Kench Allenby (Josh Lawson), the Australian owner of the GNN who also owns an airline company. There is also the usual catalogue of cameo appearances by some big-name actors. Naturally, I will not mention names, but I was surprised to see two leading R&B artists rumble and tumble with the best of them.
Anchorman 2 is insane. I cannot think of any more intelligent way to describe it. It’s one of those rare comedies that pushes its least funny moments to the trailers, and then surprises everyone by how funny it actually is. You’ve probably seen it, the scene with the RV on cruise control rolling across a busy highway. I thought the payoff was lame. But the trailer never shows us the build up. And that’s the thing with this movie: It never considers the build up to be a requirement. Our characters leap right into the joke. Sometimes they leap up, as when Ron suggests getting perms for everybody, and it’s that kind of euphoria and complete disregard for maturity that makes him and his team America’s most endearing bunch of fools.
Best Moment | Oh boy. There are too many. I loved the rumble. I loved Brick. I loved the relatively clean humour of the script — limited number of vaginal, penal, and anal jokes. And I loved just the overall feel-good vibe.
Worst Moment | Nope.