Thursday, December 26, 2013

Review: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
I should probably mention right off the bat that I enjoyed "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," so that you won't think I walked into this sequel with any sort of bias. Alas, "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" is not just a missed opportunity, it's a near disaster.

The film runs nearly two hours, both of which are mostly laugh-less. And while I've certainly found Will Ferrell to be a pretty funny guy on Saturday Night Live and in a handful of movies - "Anchorman" being one of them, he engages in that time-honored SNL trait: If a joke doesn't appear to be working, just say it progressively louder and louder until you scream your audience into submission.

Most of the dialogue in the film is spoken in high-pitched yells and shrieks between the cast members. And most of the jokes are just not funny - including, but not limited to, the misbegotten attempt at poking fun at the racism of 1970s America during a particularly uncomfortable dinner sequence and another scene during which Ron meets his attractive new boss (Meagan Good) and all he can repeatedly say to her is "black, black, black."

You've heard the expression about throwing in the kitchen sink. Hell, "Anchorman 2" throws in the whole kitchen - you've got a training sequence in which Ron Burgundy attempts to cope with being blind, there's a pet shark he adopts that pops back up for a final cameo and, as in the first film, there's a showdown between several news anchor teams that has more cameos than "Movie 43" and, sadly, the scene here is only slightly funnier than that catastrophe.

There's a witty movie hidden within all the melee here. The plot of "Anchorman 2," which is set in 1980, follows Ron and his crew as they get in on the ground floor of a station modeled after CNN that plans to provide 24-hour news coverage. And the film often pokes fun at how the news has gone from being informative to entertainment and all the damage that has caused.

However, director Adam McKay and company are clearly more interested in the characters' irreverent behavior, bawdy humor shouted at maximum decibels and jokes at the expense of 1970s attire. There is a relatively funny sequence during which we find out Brian Fantana's (Paul Rudd) current line of work. But on the whole, the film's biggest sin is that it's just not funny. It's taken nine years to produce a sequel to "Anchorman," which became a cult hit on DVD due to its quotable - and funny, mind you - dialogue ("stay classy" and "I love lamp"), and this is the best with which they could come up?

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