I wish that Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues had been released in January rather than this December because I would have loved to proclaim it the funniest movie of the year. It loses by a narrow margin to Apocalyptic/Rapture Stoner comedy This is the End. Both movies smack of Judd Apatow (he produced both Anchorman films and essentially fathered the cast of This is the End), but Anchorman 2 does more than measure up to the success of the original. It’s a raucous juggernaut of comedy that achieves more than the average sequel. I straight-up loved it.
Synopsis (There be Spoilers!)
Several years since the rise of Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and his now-wife Veronica Corningstone as co-anchors, Burgundy’s news idol Mack Harken (Harrison Ford) fires him and promotes his wife to lead anchor. Burgundy’s wounded pride leaves him to walk out on Veronica and their seven year old son when she refuses to choose Burgundy over her job. Ron is scooped up by a revolutionary 24-hour news channel where his 2 am slot must compete with Jack Lime’s (James Marsden) immaculate physique and charming style. Ron miraculously wins a bet on his success and makes news history as he changes the program format. Instead of delivering the news, Ron Burgundy and his crew (Paul Rudd, Steve Carrell, and David Koechner), deliver the stories people want to see; America, fluffy kittens, live car chases, and sports highlights. Ron’s success in what is now the early 80’s attracts the sexual attention of his progressive boss, and alienates him from his loyal friends and his estranged son and wife, who is now dating a mind-reading psychiatrist, culminating in a tragic ice-skating accident that causes Burgundy to go blind. Blind, and unable to connect with any of his senses, Burgundy becomes a hermit who lives in a lighthouse until the love of his life returns and nurses him to health. Burgundy undergoes surgery and reclaims his title as top news anchor, only to quit so he can attend the piano recital of the son he has come to truly value. On the way, he faces an epic showdown between all the news teams — up and coming, old rivals, international competition, and entertainment media (which is what exactly?) — and survives to make it just in time.
This film is about friendship, family, and Ron Burgundy doing what he was put on God’s green earth to do; read the news and have salon-perfect hair (which is now permed).
To be honest, it took me a while to “get” the first Anchorman; I would not consider myself to be a part of the cult following based on pure quotability that made it such a success. However, Anchorman 2 evolves from just using Will Ferrell-brand humor to creating a ridiculous balls-to-the-wall comedy that accumulates more laughs with every scene. I would argue that it’s just as quotable, and the best jokes of the first film — Sex Panther, news team battles, Ron Burgundy: Jazz Flautist — are re-introduced without the heavy-hand of lesser sequels. There’s undeniable chemistry between Steve Carrell’s Brick and Kristen Wiig’s Chani, which led to some laughably bizarre but also tender moments.
I was pleasantly surprised by the film’s commentary on the way that our “news” has become entertainment media. It’s a sophisticated point to make amidst the chaos. Anchorman 2 even takes a moment to comment on the double standard of male rape. When Burgundy’s boss Linda Jackson (Meagan Good) aggressively comes onto him in her office, he is terrified by her advances as she bullies him into submission. This is played off comedically, but remains disturbing as after the encounter, he mentions to his friends that he thinks that he was just raped and they shrug it off. It’s never brought up again, but it’s a subtle point darkly made in the context of a comedic film. Kudos to the writers.
Most quotable lines:
– “Well, I’m white thunder and I roll deep and I roll nasty.” – Veronica Corningstone (Christina Appelgate)
– “Holy Olivia Newton John’s Hymen” – Ron Burgundy
– Every word that comes out of Brick’s mouth
– A touching ode to Doby the shark, a delightful new addition to the film franchise.
– Who is in this movie? Who ISN’T in this movie? Cameo appearances run the gamut from SNL alum like Kristen Wiig and Tina Fey, to Liam Neeson, to returning characters from the first film
– Sex Panther Patronus.
– The ghost of Stonewall Jackson
The most minor of complaints:
Don’t expect sophistication. This is Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. If sophistication’s what you were expecting, you might want to consider your frame of reference.
There is not a reprise of afternoon delight, as I had hoped. There is a tearful piano ballad dedicated to Doby, the shark that Burgundy bottle feeds to health and then sets free into the open ocean.
There are some uncomfortable scenes where Burgundy makes some intensely racist statements. Just be prepared if you have second-hand embarrassment issues.
I think it’s clear that I judge my enjoyment of films on a factor of pure ridiculousness. If you liked the first Anchorman, or any other films in Apatow’s body of work, you need to see this. I shared the viewing experience with my brother, and, whether you go with friends or family, I would recommend a group-viewing of Anchorman 2 as part of your holiday festivities. It’s a lot of fun.
I predict that Anchorman 3: Son of Ron Burgundy will be forthcoming in the not too distant future.