The year has not been kind to film comedies. A quick glance at critics’ end-of-year Top 10s – including the Austin Film Critics Association – reveals a severe dearth of outright yuks over the past 12 months. Fleetingly comedic dramas galore, but overall, it's been a very Oh, Brother Where Art Thou? year for theatrical releases, and I mean that in the original Sullivan's Travels way. Why so serious? Blame it on the zeitgeist, I suppose. Happily, tonsorial-centric newscaster Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) has returned to the fray in this surprisingly guffaw-inducing sequel to his 2004 origin story. At two hours long, The Legend Continues starts to continue a little too much midway through, but I have to admit the final 25 minutes are so deliriously absurdist that they're worth the price of admission on their own.
Co-scripted by Ferrell and Adam McKay once again, the psycho-pompous Burgundy and his San Diego news team – disco-licious Brian Fantana (Rudd), racist sportscaster Champ Kind (Koechner), and just plain nuts weatherman Brick Tamland (Carell) – regroup to take their particularly egocentric brand of reportage to New York City. It's there that a billionaire Aussie (Lawson) is about to launch Global News Network, the world's first 24-hour news channel. Set in 1980, Burgundy and his crew find the very notion of can't stop/won't stop news perplexing, but the pay is good and the gang is game, although not before seriously ticking off GNN's prime-time anchor Jack Lime (Marsden). Chaos and much Zoolander-esque hilarity ensues.
It's worth pointing out that The Legend Continues does a fine job of skewering the current tsunami of televised-news overload. "Why do we need to tell people what they need to know?" asks Burgundy. "Why can't we tell them what they want to know?" Take that Fox News – Pow! Right in the kisser!
As with the original Anchorman, the gags fly fast and free; not all of them work, but a romantic subplot between linguistically challenged Brick and GNN secretary Chani (Wiig) is an inspired comedic dorkgasm. Less engaging is Applegate as Burgundy's estranged wife and former co-reporter Veronica Corningstone, but with all the satirical machismo and goofball testosterone floating around like so much smog in Guangzhou, it's difficult to fault her.
A plethora of third-act cameo appearances by everyone from the ghost of Stonewall Jackson to Wes Mantooth (Vince Vaughn) effectively save Anchorman 2 from being simply a mediocre meh sequel and turn it into a total comedy freak-out – which, I daresay, is exactly what the zeitgeist needs right about now.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Adam McKay, Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, Dylan Baker, James Marsden, Meagan Good, Kristen Wiig, Fred Willard, Josh Lawson