I’ve never shared in the enthusiasm or admiration for “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”. The 2004 comedy was a box office success but it gained most of its following in the subsequent years. To my surprise the film has a legion of devoted fans who adore these characters and can quote line after line. For me the first “Anchorman” film had its moments but ultimately it milked its gimmick dry and it grew old fast.
Surprisingly it took almost 10 years for a second installment to hit theaters. That’s unheard of in this modern movie era of churning out cash grab sequels by the gross. This time around we get more of the same familiar gimmick, many of the same gags, and the same wild sporadic storytelling. This is probably good news for fans of the first film, but for me it was another mediocre experience with even less laughs than the first movie. To make matters worse it’s almost 30 minutes longer making it a grinding endurance test for those not smitten with its humor.
Seven years have passed since the events of the first film. Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) are married and living in New York City. Both are successful co-anchors at a popular local news station, at least until Veronica is offered a prominent evening news position and Ron is fired. Ron’s ego takes over and he gives her an ultimatum – the job or him. The couple separate and Ron takes up petty jobs and heavy drinking.
But opportunity knocks when Ron is approached by Freddie Shapp (Dylan Baker). He offers Ron a job at the first ever 24-hour news network. Ron searches out his old news team of Champ Kind (David Koechner), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), and Brick Tamland (Steve Carrell). The four get back to work and turn things upside down with their barrage of juvenile, racist, and sexist stupidity. Some of these moments do provide some good laughs. But honestly there are so many back-to-back jokes that some were bound to land. Eventually they all but disappear and the movie seems to repeat variations of the same gags over and over and over and over.
Ferrell is certainly comfortable playing Burgundy and he has never been ashamed to make himself look ridiculous in order to get a laugh. Often times it’s the sheer earnestness of his idiocy that is the most effective. But after a while I just wanted him to go away. Rudd and Koechner are the same – funny for a spell but then they sputter. My personal favorite character is Steve Carrell’s Brick. He’s a lovable imbecile whose humor mainly consists of spontaneous statements that make no sense whatsoever. Carrell is so good in the role but even he eventually becomes repetitive and tiresome.
“Anchorman 2” has the expected surprise cameos (most of them crammed within one small sequence) and a couple of intentionally absurd musical numbers. None of these can save this overly long and monotonous sequel. Eventually I had had enough of the toilet humor, body part gags, and rehashed jokes. Ferrell and frequent collaborator Adam McKay have had plenty of success putting things like this together and this film certainly registered with the “Anchorman” faithful. Personally I wouldn’t be sad if I never saw Ron Burgundy again.