If the history books and people in their forties are to be believed, the 80s were pretty crazy in their own right, so it’s hardly a surprise that the decade is the new setting for the continued adventures of the famous fictional newscaster. The trademark idiocy is back and bigger than ever, but despite the overall glossier feel of production, the comedy has lost a little of its lustre – there are jokes aplenty and you’ll still laugh, just not as much and perhaps not as long this time around.
In Anchorman 2, some fortuitous events hand the yet-again washed up Ron Burgundy with a shot at the big-time…yet again. With his news team reformed and in tow, he hits the Big Apple to take on the world of 24-hour news. The rest of the major events don’t warrant a mention even outside spoilers since they are simply not the focus of the film. As I’m sure he would want it, Burgundy is the star once more and the film moves from scene to scene with the intent to put him in amusing escapades usually borne out his own stupidity. And that’s what we (as fans of the original) want to see, it’s just a shame that a good story had to be sacrificed to give us what sometimes feels like a collection of Anchorman sketches.
With plot firmly taking a back-seat, the stars have been given the freedom to improvise to their heart’s content and with the talents of Ferrell, Rudd, and Carell among others it would be hard to argue against it. The quips that fly around when the gang is together are some of the funniest stuff and it really is what keeps the film ticking along. That’s not to say that there aren’t moments devoid of humour – the addition of Kristen Wiig (fine actress though she is) as a female Brick doesn’t work at all and Ron’s son Walter creates some boring segments that the film could have done without. The comedy also descends into crudeness on many occasions when more attention to the satirical remarks on the changing face of broadcast news would have gelled better with Burgundy’s exaggerated persona.
Perhaps the most glaring error of Anchorman 2 is in its runtime. Coming in at around two hours means that scenes overstay their welcome more often than expected and there’s too much downtime between genuine laughs. Losing at least twenty minutes really wouldn’t hurt. Towards the end, and after a strange detour involving a lighthouse and a shark, the finale comes into view and things pick up as the film races towards what can only be described as a cluster-bomb of cameos and absurdity – Anchorman turned up to eleven in other words. It’s a hilarious moment on first viewing and will have Anchorman fans whooping as well as holding their sides.
In the end this is more of the same Anchorman escapades, and therefore more of what people were hoping for. There’s a good mix of humour on offer, and an entertaining film that’s sure to please. I just wonder if it’ll remain as long in the memory as its predecessor.
Feeling classy enough to read more? My review of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is here. It’s kind of a big deal.