Starring: Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd
Directed by: Adam McKay (“Step Brothers,” “Anchorman”)
Written by: Will Ferrell and Adam McKay (“Anchorman,” “Step Brothers”)
My day job puts me in a bonafide local TV newsroom every day, wherein 2004’s “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” is held sacred. Hardly a day goes by that doesn’t feature some anchor or reporter or producer throwing out one of the many absurdist quotes that turned the comedy into a true cult classic. Will Ferrell’s mustachioed, buffoonish newsman has become his most endearing creation, yet it still took nine years of studio wrangling to get a sequel up and running. After months of Ferrell doing in-character talk show appearances, SUV commercials, and genuine local newscasts, Ron Burgundy and the Channel 4 News Team has finally reassembled on the big screen in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.”
Picking up several years after the first film, “Anchorman 2” opens with Ron Burgundy and Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) anchoring the network news as the first-ever husband and wife duo. When veteran anchor Mack Harken (Harrison Ford) decides to step down, he taps Corningstone as his replacement and fires Ron. When Ron’s jealously toward Veronica boils over, the couple splits, sending a drunken Ron back to San Diego, where he hosts dolphin shows at Sea World in between sexually harassing the trainers. Burgundy is offered a second chance, though, when Freddie Shapp (Dylan Baker) shows up offering Ron a new job in broadcasting: reading the news on the world’s first 24-hour news network.
Moreso than the first go-round, “Anchorman 2” has a definite satirical edge. All the affronts to real journalism that 24-hour cable news showcases—wall-to-wall coverage of car chases, rampant speculation in place of facts, mindless jingoism—are the creation of Ron Burgundy in this universe. Thankfully, though, Ferrell and co-writer/director Adam McKay understand that the audience isn’t there just for a “Daily Show”-style takedown of the news media. The duo (and the rest of the cast, by virtue of on-set improv) have packed the movie to the rafters with jokes which, of course, are hit and miss. As can be expected, jokes that became cultural touchstones in the first film, like the epic battle featuring rival news teams and tridents, are rehashed here with the absurdity turned up to 11, and Ron Burgundy belts out even more quotes that will dance around in your brain for years to come. “By the hymen of Olivia Newton-John!” is a early personal favorite.
While Ferrell and McKay could have coasted on pure goodwill generated by the original movie, its clear they shot for the moon with the sequel which, after one initial viewing, is extremely funny…but short of legendary. But, as with the first film, more viewings are likely to change that.