The first time I saw Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy something didn’t quite click. It was only on repeat viewings that those now classic one-liners began to reveal themselves. I was interested therefore, to see if I’d regard the sequel in a similar way.
Post Anchorman, the Ferrell/McKay writing partnership has continued to produce notable comedies in Talladega Nights and Step-Brothers, with off-the-cuff, improvised dialogue featuring heavily in all of their work, but I was concerned this style of comedy would start to wear a little thin by the time the Anchorman sequel finally came about.
I should say from the off that Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is a very funny film. I’m not usually one for laughing out loud, but I found myself doing just that on a number of occasions. It is also a much bigger film than the previous. Bigger in scale and ambition, and with a constantly expanding cast. And a lot of the humour comes in the form of surprise cameos and bizarre tangents, so I’ll try not to include any spoilers.
My concerns about the dialogue were quickly put at ease with Ferrell immediately delighting with a whole host of fresh and peculiar turns-of-phrase as Burgundy. With the action now taking place between 1979 and 1981, there are a whole new set of cultural and political issues for the characters to play with, as well as the arrival of 24-hour news. The film does a great job of sending up the shallow reality of modern news broadcasting, without getting preachy or losing it’s comedic edge.
We’re treated to a whole host of ups and downs for Ron Burgundy. We see him fail, succeed and fail again, in spectacular style with his hubris forming the central theme. This emphasis on Burgundy does severely sideline the other members of the news team though, and many of Champ Kind’s (David Koechner) appearances end with the same homo-erotic joke surrounding his affections for Ron.
Steve Carell’s Brick, however, gets a lot more screen time, including a romantic sub-plot with a female version of himself, played brilliantly by Kristen Wiig. Some of the awkward scenes involving the pair were definite highlights for me and Brick’s lines are often pushed to provide moments of profound truth.
Callbacks to the previous film were inevitable, and while some add a subtle extra layer of humour to a scene, others feel a little too forced to be effective. The main one being the return of Brian Fontana’s (Mike Rudd) secret office compartment.
The second half of the film is a tad meandering, revealing a little too clearly the patchwork nature of this kind of production. It starts to drag in places, and I did start to meet the scent of yet another lengthy tangent with slight trepidation. However, around every uncertain corner was at least one laugh out loud moment that made the journey worthwhile.
The ludicrous number of cameos is something that needs mentioning. There are some that aren’t listed on IMDB and I won’t spoil them here, but I couldn’t help but feel they were a little wasted. The ‘look who it is’ surprise gag gets old fairly quickly and it’s a shame a little more wasn’t made of some of the bigger names, but perhaps that is part of the joke.
As far as my experience of the previous Anchorman film goes, I found the sequel infinitely more rewarding on the first viewing. Some of the set pieces are incredibly funny and there are some great moments derived from the story itself, rather than relying on the cast to deliver the goods in the improvised scenes. As I expected, I didn’t leave with a series of quotable lines running through my head, but I’ve no doubt these will, once again, come with time.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues brings the same ‘anything goes’ spirit of the original, but on a far grander scale. It would have been nice to have seen more of the rest of the cast, particularly the other m embers of the news team, but Ferrell does a great job of carrying what ends up being a fairly lengthy main narrative, whilst easing us through even the most audacious of plot twists.