MRR Review: "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues"

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

MRR Review: "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues"

Rating: PG-13 (crude and sexual content, drug use, language, and comic violence)
Length: 119 minutes
Release Date: December 18, 2013
Directed by: Adam McKay
Genre: Comedy

"Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" is the continuation of the story of Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), a former San Diego anchorman who now finds himself a shadow of the broadcaster he once was. In the interim since the last film, he has managed to marry former anchor rival Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), with whom he has a son. That's about the only thing going right in his life, as Veronica unseats him at work and he shamefully becomes a drunken Sea World announcer as a result. The rest of the group he anchored with in San Diego, including weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), and sports man Champ Kind (David Koechner), have all fallen out of their broadcasting jobs as well. The team is in disarray, as is Ron, who lives his life in a scotch-fueled haze.

It is now 1980, and the new decade brings with it new promise for the old San Diego team. A startup news station is trying to pioneer the concept of a 24-hour news network, so the executives begin to recruit the old San Diego crew to fill in the graveyard shift. They all eagerly agree, since it's better than what they are currently doing, and they move to New York City in order to take on their new jobs. It turns out that barely anyone watches the graveyard shift, so they are given free rein to do almost anything they want, including editorializing breast augmentations among other things. Suddenly, people start watching their irreverent broadcasts, and the team decide they want to get back into primetime rather than doing overnight broadcasts.

Unfortunately, they have several primetime rivals who have no intentions of letting anyone take their plum spots. One of them is handsome, devious anchor Jack Lime (James Marsden), who is slick and popular on the new network. He is also trying to move in on Veronica, who has separated from Ron due to his jealousy over her rising career. This makes everything very personal for Ron, who now wants to not only unseat Lime from his primetime perch but try to win back Veronica as well. Can he do both, or will he find a way to mess things up in that signature Ron Burgundy way? It almost doesn't matter, since most of the fun is in the approach rather than the results.

In "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," screenwriters Ferrell and Adam McKay took lots of potshots at the news industry, skewering it for its sensationalism among other things. The film was so wildly successful that if they had simply served up more of the same in the same setting, fans of the original probably would have lined up to buy tickets. Instead of just going for the quick money grab in the sequel, Ferrell and McKay decided to put the characters in a completely new environment and let a new kind of mayhem ensue. The result is a wildly funny comedy that has the ring of familiarity due to the returning characters while still bringing in plenty of fresh air with the addition of new cast members and a list of A-list celebrity cameos that is as impressive as it is long.

Since the gang is now working for a 24-hour cable news channel, the satire surrounds the fact that a lot of filler stories and celebrity stories have to fill some of those hours. These are frequent criticisms of today's cable news networks, so even though "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" is set in the early 1980s, it somehow seems fresh and relevant to the state of the news today. Whether Ferrell and McKay did this on purpose or it was just a happy accident seems almost inconsequential. The point is that a film set thirty years ago does a better job of skewering the news industry than most modern-day films while still remaining relevant, funny, and fresh all at the same time.

Ferrell is the star of the film, but this is really an ensemble piece in which the whole is somehow greater than the sum of its parts. Without Rudd, Koechner, and Carell, Ferrell's straight man in Burgundy just wouldn't be nearly as funny. The chemistry between these four is outrageously good, and none of them has missed a beat even though it has been nearly a decade since the first film came out. "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" is so much fun to watch that fans of the characters can only hope that it doesn't take another decade before the gang gets back together for a third film. With Ferrell and McKay at the creative helm, the possibilities are endless for the burgeoning franchise, which makes the series kind of a big deal, to quote Burgundy himself.

Rating: 3 out of 5