Sunday, December 21, 2014

More Of The Same: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Still Entertains!

The Good: Very funny, Decent performances
The Bad: Predictable plot and character arcs
The Basics: Cameos and incongruently hilarious lines (along with a surprising amount of social commentary), make Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues a worthwhile sequel!

As we reach the end of the year, I find myself catching movies I missed over the last year. I was actually surprised to discover that Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues came out a whole year ago! I guess that illustrates how excited I was about the Anchorman sequel. My wife, however, is a huge fan of Will Ferrell, so with the release of the trailer to Get Hard, she’s been eager to catch up on the Ferrell films she’s missed over the last two years. We started with Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. We opted for the extended edition of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues because what the hell is the point of the theatrical version when you can have half an hour more of Ron Burgundy?!

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues picks up right after Anchorman (reviewed here!) and for those who have not seen the first film, there is almost no humor in the movie that depends upon the first film. In fact, outside the introduction of Brick Tamland, the humor in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues stands entirely on its own. But for those who are fans of Anchorman, while Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is enjoyable, it is largely a continuation of what came before without much new . . . other than the lines. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is funny and continues the humor of Anchorman which worked best as a collection of hilarious lines, more than a humorous narrative. Like the first one, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is the funniest when it is just playing with funny lines as opposed to moving the film in wacky directions.

After the success of Ron Burgundy and Veronica Corningstone working on the nightly news in San Diego, the pair moves to New York City. There, Veronica is offered a position as a major network news anchor and Ron Burgundy is fired. Six months later, Ron Burgundy is working at Sea World, getting drunk, fired and then unsuccessfully trying to kill himself. Offered a position at GNN, a new 24-hour news network in New York City, by Freddie Shapp immediately after his aborted suicide attempt, Ron Burgundy reunites his old news team to take the job at the cable news company. After getting Champ Kind, Brian Fantana, and Brick Tamland out of their current situations, the quartet goes to New York City where they meet their new boss, Linda (where they are shocked by working for a black woman).

Ron Burgundy adapts poorly to working at the cable station where the primetime anchor, Jack Lime, is better-looking and more popular than he is. While Brick falls for a secretary working for GNN, Ron ends up in a fight with Jack. Challenged to beat Jack’s ratings, despite being at the 2 A.M. timeslot, Ron creates soft news (infotainment) in an attempt to win. When infotainment makes Burgundy a national hit, his formula leads him to unprecedented success. He begins to present his own stories – like smoking crack on the air – and the results are awards, women, and even more success. But Burgundy’s new relationship with his boss and his attempts to keep his old family (winning them back) leads him to real conflict that puts him at odds with his oldest friends. When sweeps week puts him at odds with his ex-wife and his news team,

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is, at best, a series of hilarious lines strung together by a thin plot involving Burgundy’s attempt to dominate cable news. As such, the film includes a pretty time-consuming subplot involving Brick and Chani, musical numbers, and otherwise incongruent comedic exchanges (condoms, horse piss, and the shock of working for a black boss). The film is funny, but is actually quite a bit smarter than one might expect.

Loaded with a social commentary that actually explores the degradation of journalism. While Burgundy creates feel-good pieces and ratingsbait, the commentary is actually impressive. Burgundy sinks a hard-hitting piece on how airplane parts are falling off planes and killing people because the corporate sponsors of GNN have a major stock interest in the airline that is criminally negligent. But, to appease the corporate owners of GNN, Burgundy eagerly jettisons the significant story in favor of a car chase. That Ron witlessly does the wrong thing is one thing, but as an audience able to evaluate the work, it is clear that writers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay had something to say.

It’s easy to overlook the commentary in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues amid troublingly blatant jokes surrounding Ron Burgundy’s racism and the ridiculous plot development of Rob going blind. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues starts to feel repetitive for those who have seen the first Anchorman as Ron refocuses his life on Veronica and his son. The film loses some of its focus as it transfers from being a story of an ambitious idiot working his way up the cable news ladder to achieve popularity when it takes a right turn with Ron and his son Walter rehabilitate a shark they find washed up on the shore of the lighthouse Ron moves into after he goes blind.

The performances in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues are exactly what one expects from a Will Ferrell film that utilizes the strongly comedic cast that was assembled for the first film, along with newcomers (to the franchise) like Kristen Wiig, James Marsden, and Meagan Good. Even Dylan Baker, who usually plays straightlaced, powerful dramatic characters, plays Freddie as goofy and hilarious which is unlike any other performance of his I have seen.

The leads in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues: Will Ferrell, David Koechner, Steve Carell, and Paul Rudd each reclaim their roles from the first film and they manage to make their characters distinct and funny. The film is funny, entertaining, and has more substance and commentary than the first, though it is more repetitive and familiar than it is audacious and originally. Still, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continued is worth watching!

For other works with David Koechner, be sure to visit my reviews of:
Cheap Thrills
Piranha 3DD
The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard
Sex Drive
Get Smart
Let’s Go To Prison
Farce Of the Penguins
Thank You For Smoking
The 40 Year Old Virgin
Waiting . . .


For other movie reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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