At the Movies with Alan Gekko: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

MPAA Rating: PG-13/ Genre: Comedy/ Stars: Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, Dylan Baker, Meagan Good, James Marsden, Fred Willard, Kristen Wiig, Josh Lawson, Chris Parnell, Greg Kinnear, Wilbur Fitzgerald, Harrison Ford, June Diane Raphael, Eliza Coupe, Paula Pell, Drake, Sacha Baron Cohen, Marion Cotillard, Will Smith, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Carrey, Tina Fey, Liam Neeson, Amy Poehler, John C. Reilly, Vince Vaughn, Kanye West/ Runtime: 119 minutes

I think it’s safe to say that if you make your way through any of the multiple options people have on their television sets to receive the news you won’t just see a lot of spiffed up individuals. Rather, you also might get a few who are more in love with how they sound and their popularity rather than with what the stories they are covering. This type of reporter incidentally is one that can be found on just about any size news station, but typically are located on the bigger networks since the larger the spotlight, the more of a chance of an increased ego and because they help drive ratings. Of course this isn’t always the case and in fact I do believe that there are still some wonderfully genuine reporters who only care about being as honest as they can with their viewers about the stories they are covering. Even when taking that into account, there is no denying that the world of the news has by and large turned more into a three-ring circus with some of the biggest clowns this side of the Three Stooges. Yet I think it should be said that the news wasn’t always like this. Rather, it was at one time all about genuine reporting and delivering stories that were of some importance be it on a local, national, or international level. It’s just that the egotistical tendencies, a significantly bigger audience, and a much longer time slot that needed to be filled came with a chance not to go more in-depth on the news, but to also claim things as news that are most assuredly not. The reason I bring this up dear reader is because the movie I am reviewing today, 2013’s Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is a film that gives us a fictional yet hilarious tale about the origins of modern day journalism and the continuing saga of one very familiar quartet of boneheaded anchors who were, according to this film’s narrative, essential forces in the remolding of the news into fluff pieces, inspirational sagas, and way too dramatizes tales that were packaged as integral stories for mass audience consumption. Put another way: this film would have you believe that the world of modern news was shaped, molded, and crafted by a group of very comedic yet very idiotic morons….somehow I find this incredibly easy to believe.

The plot is as follows: Moving the narrative into the early 80s, Anchorman 2 opens as we see that Ron Burgundy and Veronica Corningstone are now married and operating as co-anchors for a big time news station. However, things soon change when their boss, a legendary anchor by the name of Mack Tannen, asks them to join him in his office for “a little chat”. A chat that sees Veronica promoted to be the first nightly female anchor in television history and Ron unceremoniously drop kicked to the curb. To that end, we see that Ron doesn’t take his firing as well as one would like to the extent that not only does it leave his marriage a complete and utter wreck, but that Ron himself is left to reside in a world made up of equal parts booze, humiliation, agony, and feeling like his days as an anchorman are long over. Things start to look up though when Ron crosses paths with a man by the name of Freddie Shapp. Freddie we soon learn is a news director who has been tasked with getting a team assembled for what is trying to be the globe’s first ever around the clock news network. Seeing an opportunity to get himself back in the spotlight once more, we see Ron recruit his old team from San Diego consisting of Brian Fantana, Champ Kind, and Brick Tamland respectively to aid him in being the top billeted team on this new network. Sadly upon arriving in New York City, the team discovers that they are actually going to be assigned to the graveyard shift instead of the primetime slot which has been given over to an up and coming younger anchor by the name of Jack Lime and his team. Thus in order to get a chance to earn that primetime slot and beat out Lime and his squad, we witness as Ron and his gang set out on a seemingly mythical odyssey. Not only to reclaim their former glory, but also to completely and utterly change just how the world is able to get and digest the news like no one else in the business can or is even willing to try.

Now it is worth noting dear reader that Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is able to update this franchise without really updating it if that makes any sense. By that I mean that whilst this film moves the series ahead in time and shows us the origins of what many would consider to be the “present day way” television gets us the news, it also still gives the cast the chance to embrace a distinct time period and poke fun at the world of modern reporting at the same time. To that end, we see that this movie is filled to the brim with allusions to a few of the bigger stories that have taken hold with this daily news cycle concept since it came into the world as well as some distinct cinematic references that would find themselves, much like certain quotes from the first one, become part of the dialogue section of pop culture. Indeed it really is quite the comedic journey to go on with our favorite quartet of dimwitted reporters and even more so to those of you who are perhaps a tad bit more familiar with either how the world of present day television journalism operates or if you are one of those who has their TV set every morning to turn to Fox or CNN. Suffice it to say that the tiny comedic winks and nods are wonderfully done and the chance to see “inside the news room” especially when these are the lovable morons delivering said news is where this slice of cinematic pie is able to hit comedic gold time and time again.

Sadly Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is by no means a perfect slice of cinematic pie though dear reader. It segways from engagingly comedic to just plain odd in the second half whilst also depending more on comedy that is out there rather than comedy that is rooted in any sort of reality. Thankfully, there is still a lot that manages to function as it should and as a result we get quite a bit of laugh out loud comedy to treasure here, comedy that incidentally also happens to be as raunchy, racist, sexist, and random as anything the first film sought fit to give us. Indeed for all that this film is, there is one thing that it is most assuredly not and that’s dull thanks Ferrell who is the comedic force to be reckoned with here. Not because everyone else is terrible (far from it). Rather, it because he is so engaging in the role of Ron. A man who can be charismatic and intelligent when the situation calls for it, but is more willing to just be a delightfully stupid and unaware man child who causes havoc wherever he goes. Indeed even as the narrative goes to some truly odd places, Ferrell is still able to mine a phenomenal amount of comedy from this role and make every single scene work in some way or another thanks to his mastery of the part. Yet this film is not just the Will Ferrell Hour. Rather we also see that this film wisely brings back the supporting trio from the first film and they are all just as wonderful as ever as well as a few top-notch newcomers to the fold including Meagan Good who proves in her scenes to be a wonderful comedic foil to Ferrell’s wild man-child antics, Harrison Ford (playing I’m assuming to be a delightfully distinct take on celebrated news anchor Tom Brokaw), Greg Kinnear at his subtly smarmy best, and James Marsden as the slimy new anchor on the scene and also the movie’s for all intents and purposes genuine villain among others.

All in all it might be sad to say, but I must be honest with you dear reader: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues doesn’t entirely operate on the level of the iconic first film from 2004. With that being said, the only reason this doesn’t work as well is mainly due to the fact that the 2nd half of this movie just goes way too far into the pit of random and absurd comedy. The first half of this movie however is absolutely top-notch whilst also functioning as a trust exercise into how good this franchise is, how talented its lead actor can be, and how (as even the movie’s own title seems to hint at) legendary he has managed to become. Indeed it’s all done in the best kind of fun imaginable. Sure it’s still just as raunchy as ever, but it’s also just as funny and it most assuredly will entertain those viewers out there who love the first one with a passion. Ultimately though, I’m sure what you’re wondering is should Ron Burgundy’s story be allowed to go on past this film? Honestly I really can’t say for sure one way or the other. On the one hand this follow-up gives the viewer way more genuinely funny bits than I was expecting and taking their time to actually make a genuinely good follow-up was a wise choice on the part of everyone involved. Therefore if done right I suppose it’s possible that at least one more sequel could be just as engaging. On the other hand though, it isn’t that difficult to imagine that the jokes in this could get old fast. Thus if nothing else just celebrate the fact that we got an Anchorman 2 because both then and now it was worth the close to a decade long wait that it took for us to get it. On a scale of 1-5 I give Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues a solid 3.5 out of 5.