Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Directed by Adam McKay. Starring Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, Dylan Baker, James Marsden, Meagan Good, Kristen Wiig, Fred Willard, Josh Lawson. (2013, PG-13, 118 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Dec. 20, 2013
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.
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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