Tuesday, April 1, 2014

"Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues": It Certainly Does

Now Available on Blu-ray and DVD

Anchorman 2 is a film that really wasn't necessary.  It's already been over ten years since the original film came out, and it would be impossible to entirely recreate its fresh, nonsensical charm with a sequel.  But here we are with Anchorman 2, and inevitably it has to be asked: Is it as good as the original?  The short answer is no, but that doesn't mean that this movie isn't really funny in its own right.

The plot is actually pretty genius.  Ron Burgandy, the dumbest newsperson to ever get behind a teleprompter, is the founder of the type of newscasting now popularized by 24-hour news networks.  It's a page taken right out of The Daily Show's playbook, and it works perfectly at satirizing that entire genre of news.  The majority of the film's laughs come from seeing just how the Action News Team establishes the tropes that make 24-hour news so mockable, and it's a joy to watch.  However, the film does recognize itself as an Anchorman sequel as well, and it spends a lot of time re-establishing the Action News Team and what they've been up to since the events of the first film.  While this stuff is funny at times, it feels like it takes forever to get to the satire, which is where the heft of the movie's comedic gold lies.  The third act also drags a bit after some events put Ron out of commission, but it's fairly forgivable when taking in the movie as a whole.

Speaking of the comedy, the movie is thankfully not just a series of references to the jokes that made the previous film so great.  It actually comes up with some original material to tell an originally funny story, as well as, oddly enough, Ron's personal journey to become a better father.  I think Will Ferrell has been taking notes from Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, because the film's tone is also much more awkward than the first film's was.  Long pauses, strange interruptions, and uncomfortable statements are much more prevalent.  Usually, this works amazingly, particularly in the sub-plot about Brick finding love.  Believe me, Steve Carrell and Kristen Wiig have some of the most hilariously strange on-screen chemistry, and not only is it fun to watch, but it's actually a believable romance.

However, the film does have its failings.  First of all, though the film doesn't rely on them, there are some poorly executed attempts to reclaim the first film's glory, particularly in retreading Brian Fantana's sexual advice jokes and having another jazz flute scene.  They're still funny scenes, but it feels a bit too much like the movie can't escape its predecessor's shadow.  What isn't funny, though, are some really offense attempts at humor made a few times throughout the film, including a transphobic rant and an incredibly ableist blindness joke that lasts for way too long.  However, I'm willing to forgive the film as a whole for these faults, especially considering the amazing climax the film puts together.  I won't give it away, but trust me when I say it is hilariously epic.

So Anchorman 2 doesn't really capture the success of the original, but I think you would have to be pretty naive to believe that it would have.  For the most part, the sequel does try to be its own animal, and I do have to applaud that experimentation.  It may fail in some respects, but that's the nature of trying new things, and this film doesn't fail so much that I can't recommend it.  So go ahead and enjoy a good sequel to a great movie.  You're sure to get some well-deserved laughs out of it.

How do you think Anchorman 2 compares to the original?  Can you think of any comedy sequels that were as great as their forebears?  Let me know in the comments.

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