Flabby around the tail-end, this is still premium, laugh-out-loud hilarity
By the beard of Zeus, it’s good to have Ron Burgundy back.
Can you believe that it’s been a whole decade?
Back when I first encountered Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy, in the 2003 Judd ‘Knocked Up’ Apatow-produced, Adam ‘Every Will Ferrell Movie’ McKay-directed Anchorman, I didn’t exactly love it. Sure, it was funny, but it took a good few years, and at least another couple of viewings, before I started to fully appreciate this, McKay and Ferrell’s prize creation.
Thankfully this evolution all took place long before the announcement of a sequel, which was really quite a pleasant surprise – ten years on I had no idea that one was even on the cards.
It ended up being one of my most anticipated movies of the end of the year (although that’s in part because Jack Ryan got pushed back!).Now, comedies, perhaps more than any other movies in any other genre, are very subjective, so the best I can normally do to help give you a clue as to whether or not you’ll enjoy one, is to relate it to another, similar film. So, here goes. If you enjoyed the first Anchorman, you will likely enjoy this sequel. There, that was simple. Rather obvious, actually.
Of course, the reality is that it is far more complicated than that – the first movie took a while to warm to (at least for some) and there’s a chance the same may be said about this. Thus, even those who loved Anchorman, may not leap up and down over this one... yet. On the other hand, even if you never gave the first movie a second chance then there’s still a possibility that you may just appreciate the humour of this one. In a way, this is because it is partly like giving the first film a second shot, but it is also partly because Anchorman 2 is sharper, faster, punchier and wittier than its predecessor. Controversial? Well, not really, I’m only really talking about some of the first half.
After Ron Burgundy and his co-anchor Veronica Corningstone, put aside their differences and got married, they subsequently hit the big time and became the most popular anchors in San Diego; the world was their oyster. Now, when Veronica gets promoted and Ron gets fired, things predictably start to fall apart once again. Ron regresses into his former alcoholic bum self, foolishly taking up a job as an unruly host at a dolphin park - which only ends badly - before, on the cusp of pulling the plug, he gets an out-of-the-blue job offer to be an anchor for GNN, a new 24-hour news channel. Hitting the road to put his old team back together Ron takes his last big shot at the big time, tackling the obstacles of a new boss (who he struggles under not only because she is a woman but because she is an "African and American") and also another hotshot anchorman who becomes his aggressively competitive nemesis.
Will Ron Burgundy's rise be too high and too fast, like Icarus flying too close to the sun?
I really enjoyed Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. Ten years feels like yesterday when it comes to these guys; their roles fit so well that you may well wonder why we didn't get a sequel sooner than this.
It starts classically, with Burgundy's trademark pre-show warm-up process, and funnily enough this is probably one of the best bits from the movie - a bit like where you watch a film and the hilarious outtakes over the end credits are the funniest bits; here things get off to a great start. They manage to keep up momentum throughout the first act: putting the team back together, finding their footing under the new boss, and facing off against a new nemesis. The jokes come hard and fast; not all of them hit home, but there's still more than enough laugh-out-loud moments to keep your spirits high.
Ferrell is so at home in the role that you wonder whether he has simply now become Ron Burgundy; indeed he has spent the last few weeks touring the UK, dominating radio and TV with interviews, adverts and promotions all in character, and it just hammers home the fact that he knows this character inside out. Whatever misgivings you might have about the latter end of the movie, when Ferrell is at large and in charge, you know the humour is going to be spot on.
Highlights include his sexy/scared relationship with Meagan Goode's stunningly hot new boss, and the predictably hilarious visit to meet her family; the superb face-offs with James Marsden's perfectly slick nemesis anchorman - who can somehow hear Burgundy's slights against him from across a crowded news room; and the fantastic burgeoning love story between Steve Carrell's wacky Brick and Kristen Wiig's equally strange receptionist, the two of whom are so great together that it wouldn't be such a bad thing if they did a spin-off based on these characters. There are dozens of cameos, each successive one will have you doing a double-take, wondering how they got these big names involved (it's enough to see ALL the main players return, and then Harrison Ford and Greg Kinnear making an early entrance, but the latter end of the film has so many more surprise famous faces in store).
Anchorman 2 is a fun sequel, sporting a top-ended slew of laugh-out-loud moments and some really great ideas, it just risks jumping the shark a little bit in the final act, ironically quite literally.
It all goes swimmingly, and was perhaps on track to becoming one of my favourite comedies of the year (although beating Apatow's brilliant This Is 40 would have been a tough ask), until the lighthouse / shark sequence. What could - and should - have been a single, one-shot gag, becomes a huge turning-point in the film, and pads out its runtime unnecessarily by about 20 minutes. Just removing this segment and taking us straight to the epic finale would have infinitely improved the piece, and earned it at least one - if not two - extra points on the score.
Unfortunately this latter end twist is one story spin too many, sucking the momentum out of the piece, and even maybe prompting you to clock-watch, as you wonder when it's all going to end. Of course it all ends in precisely the manner you'd expect, following suit from the first movie but upping the ante considerably, but, by that stage, the damage has already been done.
VerdictAnchorman 2 remains one of the funniest films that I've seen this year, and is the second successful Apatow-related sequel of the year following This Is 40. It's also leagues ahead of another 2013 ensemble piece, This Is The End, and underplays its all-star cast in a good way. By all accounts Ferrell, Carrell and Rudd had to take huge pay cuts to make this film happen (having all become sizeable stars in the last decade) but you don't see any egos on screen, they slip right back into the same parts as if it was last month, or last year, not ten years ago.
I just hope we don't have to wait another decade for the next one.
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