It’s been ten years since we first met Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), a San Diego newscaster who claims he was put on earth to do two things, “have salon quality hair and read the news.” With his extreme news team—field reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), sportscaster Champ Kind (David Koechner) and bizarro weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell)—he ruled the local airwaves.
This time around the stakes are much bigger. Relocated to New York City, Burgundy and company are set to change the face of news in a film that almost plays like a comedic version of “Network.” Almost… but not quite.
At the dawn of the 1980s Ron Burgundy’s best days seem to be behind him. His marriage implodes when his wife Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) becomes the first female national news host. He hits the bottle, stops combing his perfect hair and it looks like his career is over until he’s recruited to join the anchor team at the newly formed Global News Network, the first 24-hour news channel.
He takes the job, but first insists on reuniting his old team, Blues Brothers style. With Champ, Brick and Brian on board they prepare to take New York by storm, but first they have to out do and out perform hot shot anchor Jack Lime (James Marsden).
Cobbling together a newscast made up of car chases, cat videos and Fox News style patriotism they inadvertently give birth to a new style of news.
As their ratings rise, so do questions of journalistic ethics. And that’s the first hour. Beyond that the movie is so demented I don’t want to give away any more plot points.
“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” brings with it a fair amount of goodwill. People love the original and the audience I saw the new one with laughed at almost everything that came out of Ferrell’s mouth.
For the first hour. Then the movie’s faults begin to show.
The opening sixty minutes feel like a worthy, although not quite as quotable, revisiting of the first movie. There’s nothing as memorable as, “I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly…” but you’ll laugh, especially if you’re a fan of the original.
You’ll also laugh in the second hour, but it feels less like a film than a series of connected sketches. The plot veers around wildly, again delivering giggles, but in a rambling way that doesn’t feel like the first half. It tries hard to make a statement about early 1980s race relations and for a short while Ferrell channels his inner Howard Beale to comment on the erosion of the quality of news reporting.
Sounds more nuanced than it actually is. Despite the social commentary, this is still the kind of movie where Burgundy goes temporarily blind, hand feeds a baby shark and engages in hand-to-hand combat with rival news teams.
“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” is funny in an outrageous way. It’s a bit too long, (and don’t bother sitting through to the post credit scene unless you find the sight of Steve Carell eating cookies hilarious) but the buffoonery level is high in a season where serious drama seems to be the ticket.