It has nearly been a decade since we were first introduced to Ron Burgundy (Will Farrell) and his Channel 4 News Team. But just like a fine scotch, Ron’s drink of choice, the eccentric news anchor returns to theaters better than ever. It’s always hard to follow up a cult classic with an even more satisfying sequel, but leave it to the comedic trio of star Will Farrell, writer/director Adam McKay (Step Brothers), and producer Judd Apatow (Knocked Up) to hit the proverbial ball out of the park a second time in a row.
For those of you who are not familiar with the lunacy of Ron Burgundy, the man is a news personality unlike any you have ever seen on CNN or NBC. In the news boom of the 1970s, the setting of the first film, Burgundy handled the anchor desk with style and masculinity. Now, jumping to the early ‘80s, a new chapter of the Burgundy saga is told in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.” After capturing the hearts of the entire city of San Diego, or “San-de-ahh-go” as Ron likes to call it, the newscaster extraordinaire sets his sights on the Big Apple…New York City.
While he definitely hasn’t matured with age, Farrell is a comedic tour de force in the title role. The audience is initially introduced to the character as he fights a great white shark, but using the same omniscient narrator from the first film, we are rushed off to an earlier time and setting. Don’t forget about that shark though, because just like everything else in “Anchorman 2,” there is a knee-slapping (never a more appropriate time to use this cliche phrase) payoff later in the film.
Reporting the news is all about teamwork, and when the story jumps to Ron’s journey to climb the anchor ladder at the newly established 24-hour global network GNN, we are reunited with the best team in the world. Christina Applegate once again returns as Ron’s co-anchor turned wife Veronica Corningstone. Paul Rudd reprises the “man on the street” Brian Fantana. Steve Carell plays weatherman Brick Tamland. And rounding out the gang, David Koechner is back as sports guy Champ Kind. Together, this dynamite news crew hasn’t missed a beat since the original movie. Each character is as hilarious as ever, and there is never a moment where someone isn’t cracking a witty one-liner or pithy comeback.
While all of the principal cast members are back for the sequel, there are plenty of new faces in “Anchorman 2.” Leading among these, Harrison Ford plays Ron’s former boss and longtime journalism hero Mack Harken. Meagan Good (Stomp The Yard) and James Marsden (Lee Daniels’ The Butler) also put in hysterical co-starring performances as two of GNN’s most important staff members. But no supporting character outshines the always enjoyable to watch Kristen Wiig. Tapping into her slapstick Saturday Night Live roots, Wiig plays Chani, Brick’s love interest.
Brick and Chani’s awkward romance gives “Anchorman 2” a much needed tender side plot, because for the better part of two hours, the film is almost non-stop ridiculousness. Using the same token irrelevant one-liners that made the original film so revolutionary in the comedy realm, Farrell and friends deliver a hearty dosage of pop culture zingers at a machine-gun pace.
Underlying all of this laugh-out-loud humor, though, “Anchorman 2” carriers with it a much deeper message this time around. Whereas the original dealt with the rather straightforward idea of women in an almost exclusively male workplace, McKay and Farrell dig deeper with their sequel. In writing the script, the duo takes news giants like MSNBC and CNN to task for their lackluster reporting strategies. By donating the majority of their airtime to fluff stories and car chases, which we watch Burgundy do to overwhelming success and viewership ratings records, the real newsworthy stories are given less attention. Even Burgundy and his giant ego come to realize that this style of reporting is just plain stupid. This incredibly overt political satire is a bit too heavy handed at times, but for every Fox wisecrack there is an equal or even better joke about something completely unexpected.
Farrell, McKay, and Apatow certainly subscribe to the bigger is always better mentality in making “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.” Everything, and I mean everything, is cranked all the way to 11 for this sequel—the laughs, the language, and especially the rich mahogany. As a result, the picture is destined to become one of the most quotable movies of 2013. It only seems fitting that the extremely irreverent actions of protagonist Ron Burgundy is set during the era of the most spectacular slapstick sequel bombs of all time: the 1980s. “Airplane 2: The Sequel”, “Caddyshack 2”, and “Fletch Lives” all went up in flames, but “Anchorman 2” will live on forever.
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, drug use, language and comic violence
By David Morris