Nick Nunziata: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is a classic. A bona fide classic. With that out of the way, it’s truly hard to follow such a singular comedy with a sequel. Especially nearly a decade later. Wisely Adam McKay and Will Ferrell have kept the tone and randomness and added a lot of new parts to the mix that allow for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues to have its own life. It’s more structured and plot-driven but no less delightfully insane.
Renn Brown: It’s one of the funnier films of the year, no doubt. It struggles to juggle fealty to the gags established in the first film and striking out on new paths of absurdity. This results in about a 50/50 ratio of jokes that work and don’t, but what does land, lands hard. The reliance on shouting and more conventional quips suggests Anchorman 2 isn’t likely to age as sublimely as it’s predecessor, but I’m happy the film exists, which is ultimately an accomplishment in the comedy sequel sphere. Ferrell and the gang slip back into their characters effortlessly, and the best material comes from them simply riffing as these characters. The higher the gag concept, the lower the return, confirming the charm of Anchorman was always rooted in the great dynamic this cast forged together.
Nick Nunziata: There’s one major gag that is probably the funniest part of the whole thing, a musical number late in the film. Otherwise I agree. It’s the little moments. Luckily there are plenty of those. The decision to focus on the birth of 24 hour news and the dumbing down that came with it is a ripe one. Funnily enough, the news catching up with our protagonists and their hand in speeding the process along offers a little more meat than one would expect from a movie like this. Underneath the veneer the movie has something to say about the world we live in, something the original didn’t. Where Ron Burgundy was just bravado and bluster before he now is sort of a beacon, albeit often unintentionally. When he loses his job with his wife (Christina Applegate, poorly used) Burgundy sinks to his lowest depths before being handed one last shot at a career he gets to “bring the gang together”. Some tweaks have been made to the supporting crew, specifically David Koechner’s Champ Kind. A one note character (though a great one) in the first film has been made considerably creepier this time around.
Renn Brown: The thematic punch certainly gives the second act some comedic drive, but the payoff is awfully sloppy. It’s one of those things that acts as much as a window into the better, more thoughtful version of this movie as it does provide an actual advantage to the one we got. Still it’s a strong premise to get these characters going again. What falls utterly flat though, is the streak of race and gender humor coursing through the film. Literally the only worthwhile joke is the first one Burgundy makes, as he struggles to say any word other than, “black.” It’s fitting that this is all Burgundy can say, because it’s all the humor the film can must on the subject. The romance between him and Megan Good’s character results in some of the heaviest clunkers, including a post-Klumps dinner sequence that’s downright embarrassing. And when the film tries to drive home a very specific, contemporary political point, it reads as a forced betrayal of Burgundy’s character. The shouting is super funny though.
Nick Nunziata: One of the biggest failings of comedies is their insistence on having the protagonist “make good”. No one comes to see Anchorman to see Ron Burgundy try to make it to his son’s piano recital. No one cares. Luckily, there’s a fun and cameo laden gag which feeds the climax of the movie. The saving grace is that Will Ferrell’s signature character is like a glove to him and he and his gang find ways to make even the more leaden jokes have merit. Ferrell, Steve Carell, Koechner, Rudd, and newcomer Kristen Wiig are so at the top of their industry that they milk their improv roots to maximum effect.
Renn Brown: Time has been kind to the absurdity of the first Anchorman, and it’s impossible to say the same won’t happen with the second. I really really super strongly suspect that’s not going to happen again though, and The Legend Continues will live on as an afterthought. With the stakes being so low, perhaps there’s nothing wrong with banging out an easy sequel (as long as the greenlight may have taken to get) for the sake of the extra time with iconic characters. There’s always that small twinge to see something special and perfect diluted even a little bit though. And with the way this gang makes movies, there’s even the feeling that the film could be cut again with alternate gags and hit the same humor average. I’m bummed by the cheapness of the craft, the lamer plot strands, and the moments when the recycled gags fall flat, but at the end of the day, there’s a good comedy’s worth of laughs. I still, after everything, love lamp.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Nick Nunziata: Knowing that there’s at least another feature length film awaiting home video and seeing how some alternate jokes from the trailer made their way into the film it’s impossible to view this as just another movie. It’s the best in the industry riffing and when it hits it hits famously. When it reuses material (we did not need another pan flute sequence) the mileage varies on the individual’s weaknesses. I want to see it again. I want to see it with my favorite people. I want to find the jokes between the jokes. With a movie like this that’s all you can ask for.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars