There’s an unused higher gear in Anchorman 2

by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
3 out of 5

Of all the movies Will Ferrell and Adam McKay have partnered on (like Step Brothers and Talladega Nights), the Anchorman saga is the most promising — and least focused. Sure, the main characters and the concept are solid, but Ferrell and McKay can’t seem to come up with an interesting storyline to elevate the franchise from merely amusing to unforgettable.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues brings the gang into the ’80s and introduces them to a novel concept: the 24-hour news channel. Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) loses a promotion to his wife (Christina Applegate) — so he promptly leaves her (and their adolescent son) and takes a job in New York with his news team buddies in tow. The hours aren’t great (he has the news desk between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.), but the team’s rampant incompetence is ratings gold.

Soon Burgundy is riding high, but with an ego like his it doesn’t take him long to alienate family and friends.

Nobody watches a movie like Anchorman for the message, but unlike the previous episode, there is a stab at critical commentary here: Ron discovers fluff news unwittingly when a car chase trumps an interview with Yasser Arafat — beginning the downward spiral into journalistic mediocrity.

There’s even an editorial chastising newsrooms everywhere for favouring ratings over content. Who wrote this script, Aaron Sorkin?

The semi-serious stuff doesn’t intrude on the zaniness for very long. A never-ending parade of relatively successful sequences ensue — like Champ’s fried “chicken” joint, Brick’s “funeral” and Brian Fantana’s condom collection. Brick’s role in particular has been greatly expanded, thanks, I presume, to Carell’s high profile in recent years, although his romance with an equally thick-headed woman (Kristen Wiig) falls flat.

The best part of Anchorman 2 are the tons of A-list cameos. Along with Harrison Ford’s extended appearance as a deranged Dan Rather-type, a bunch of expensive stars make an appearance in another Battle of the News Teams.

Overall, there’s fun stuff here for sure. It just could’ve been so much more.