The rip-roaringly hilarious Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is the best comedy of the year.
I'll be honest, I'm not a Will Ferrell film fan - his work on SNL is another matter entirely. Ferrell built his career on Celebrity Jeopardy! and Spartan Cheerleaders, but most of his films haven't matched up. Elf was mildly amusing, Blades of Glory disappointing, and Step Brothers was boring right out of the gate. But there was one Ferrell film I'd watch: Anchorman. There, the jokes ran high and fast, like I had entered a slipstream of awesome and Ferrell was my pilot. And even though audiences generally didn't approve (or understand it) at the time, the antics of the Channel 4 news team slowly grew into a cult classic. The 'salon quality' hair, the mustache, as well as the sexual panache of Ron Burgundy was on everyone's quote list for years until his popularity resulted in something that Ferrell promised he would never do: make a sequel. With Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues now both a reality and quite against Ferrell's stance, we can once again enjoy a franchise that still feels ahead of its time, even if its weirdness is sometimes still hard to follow.
After Burgundy (Will Ferrell) is fired and his wife Veronica Corningstone-Burgundy (Christina Applegate) promoted to co-anchor of the evening news in New York, Ron wanders San Diego before he's given a golden opportunity: assist in the launch of the nation's first 24-hour news network. He reassembles the news team of Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), Champ Kind (David Koechner) and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) and they head to New York in a giant bus with Jesus and Ron painted on the side. Their arrival is tainted by the appearance of super anchor Jim Lane (James Marsden), whose good looks make him an instant hit and at the top of Ron's hit list. As the network starts up, Burgundy butts heads with his sexually-aggressive African-American boss Linda Jackson (Meagan Good), while ushering in the modern era of the 24-hour news cycle. After personal tragedy strikes, Ron must decide if he will return to his now ex-wife, forge a new relationship with Jackson, or throw it all away for a baby shark.
Anchorman 2 is at its best when it's about Burgundy trying to come to terms with his new job and Jackson, but Ferrell and longtime collaborator Adam McKay also have some clever things to say about the 24-hour news cycle. Carrell is not nearly as funny this time, except when Kristen Wiig enters the picture as an inept secretary - hers is the Amy Farah Fowler of Anchorman 2 and her 'I like the parts of your face covered by skin' declarations are hilarious. The rest of Ferrell's team of Rudd, Applegate, and Kochener are just as great, although this really is Ferrell's picture. He struts Burgundy around like a mix between a proud peacock and the village idiot who doesn't know that his game wreaks like old socks. When he and Jackson have dinner with her parents, Ferrell plays every race card in the deck to perfection. For most of his films, that sort strategy didn't pay off - here, it's Burgundy that seems to be the difference, and Ferrell plays it to the max.
We understand that the original cut of Anchorman 2 ran an amazing 30 minutes over the current runtime of 119 minutes. We hope that version makes it into the 'Salon Quality' Edition, although some of what's still here is a little weird. Our main beef is Burgundy's struggling with blindness, brought on by a butt-hurt Lane. Frankly, it just isn't funny, and seems more like the part of Ferrell I dislike - the shotgun approach to comedy, hoping that something will reach its target. And while that portion feels oddly out of place, things get funny again just in time for a repeat of the climactic anchormen throw down, filled with enough first-rate dramatic cameos standing in to battle Burgundy and Lane to make it better and more memorable than the first. We don't want to give away all the people who show up, but check out the constantly apologetic Canadian news team headed by Jim Carrey and Marion Cotillard.
Anchorman 2 is the best comedy of the year, reintroducing us to Ron Burgundy and his news team in high style. The addition of Wiig adds a new layer of silliness, while the cameos and skits grow our appreciation for what Ferrell and McKay conceived all those years ago and have nurtured with scotch and lamps and talks about regrettable decisions. This is the kind of film you need to see several times in order to catch all the great lines that emanate from our stars. The Legend Continues gives Ferrell something he never had: a series he can now revisit with hopefully greater frequency. Nine years is too long to away, Ron - welcome back to the tribe. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is rated a surprising PG-13 for crude and sexual content, drug use, language, and comic violence and has a runtime of 119 minutes.
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