Cast: Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, Meagan Good, James Marsden, Kristen Wiig, Josh Lawson, Dylan Baker, Judah Nelson
No one could have foreseen the impact Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy would have on audiences when it was released in 2004. Hell, I didn’t really pay attention to it until a friend brought it to my attention a few years later, but it was then that my love for Anchorman finally blossomed. It’s a cult classic in every sense; the random humor flies in the face of every comedic formula, the acting is self-consciously over-the-top, and just about every line of dialogue has found its way into the cultural lexicon of the 21st century. It’s one of those movies that will stick in your mind, whether you find the craziness charming or just downright annoying.
The world of Anchorman didn’t necessitate a sequel, but speculation amongst the film’s stars and its director, Adam McKay, kept hope alive that we hadn’t seen the last of Ron Burgundy and the channel 4 news team. Personally, I didn’t care either way. The staying power of the first movie would still stand, even if a sequel tried and failed to duplicate the magic of its predecessor.
Almost a decade later, we have been given Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. Just about everyone from the first movie has returned, and instead of merely trying to duplicate the smug wackiness that made the first one such a classic, McKay and Will Ferrell have cranked the insanity level up to 100. I didn’t know that was even possible, but it has been done, and in my opinion, it really works. You’re led to believe that they’re trying to catch lightning in a bottle, but then halfway through they say “F**k it”, smash the bottle, and lightning comes out of their fingertips. The whole thing is a massive send-up of itself, which is brilliant, but it’s also an epic love letter to the fans.
Beginning at the dawn of the 80’s, Ron Burgundy and his now-wife, Veronica Corningstone, reach an impasse when Veronica is offered a huge one-up in the news network by their boss, played by Harrison Ford. Yeah, the cameos come fast and furious in this movie, and trust me; each face that shows up is more epic and insane than the last. Unfortunately, Ford also uses this moment to blast Ron for being a terrible anchorman and kicks him off the network.
After leaving his wife and their son, Ron is approached by a representative from a 24-hour news network in New York City. Of course, the existence of a 24-hour news network was unprecedented at that time, and Ron initially scoffs at the idea, but he ultimately takes advantage of the opportunity in order to rally his old news team, from Brian Fantana (who has become a celebrated cat photographer) and Champ Kind (still vaguely psychotic but now running a “chicken” restaurant) to Brick Tamblin (when we first see him, everyone, including Tamblin himself, is under the impression that he died at sea).
That’s the setup, and of course, hijinks ensue, but that’s as far as I can go in regards to telling you what happens specifically. Yes, the movie revisits many attributes from the first film. Champ still nurtures a creepy infatuation with Ron, Brick continues to overwhelm the room with his constant stupidity, and Ron’s absurd pompousness is, well, you know.
A lot of people have been quick to snipe at that aspect, but this movie delivers on its promise; you’re with these characters again, and although they have changed in subtle ways, they are the same ego-driven misfits they’ve always been. We wouldn’t love them if they weren’t.
Several gags are also revisited; Brian breaks out a treasure trove of strange and exotic man accessories (or mancessories), and there is a news team battle towards the end that’s…well, words really can’t do it justice. It’s right up there with The Avengers in terms of how epic and insane it is. A lot (and I mean A LOT) of famous faces show up, and the battle itself has to be seen to be believed.
The story flies off the rails long before this, but the last 20 minutes defy all logic. It’s a rare example of a movie, already a satire, trying to satirize itself even more. Of course, not everyone will appreciate that. It’s very nonsensical, but if you’re into that sort of thing, you’ll have a blast. I know I did.
Like Crank 2, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues goes for broke and pushes everything to the limit. Things are brought to a nice resolution, and with all of the craziness dripping from this one, a third movie would just be redundant, which I’m sure McKay and Ferrell knew from the get-go. They weren’t obligated to give us a second film, so to me Anchorman 2 speaks volumes of how much fun the cast and crew are having with these characters. Even if it’s our last trip to Ron Burgundy’s domain, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is a memorable salute to the people that made its predecessor a cult classic.