Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Quality: ★★½ (out of four)
Director: Adam McKay
Stars: Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, Meagan Good
Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content, drug use, language, comic violence
Running time: 1 hour, 59 minutes
Theaters: Aksarben, Oakview, Twin Creek, Bluffs 17, Midtown, Regal, Westroads, Majestic, Village Pointe
* * *
The hair and mustache are frozen in time. The flute solo gets a reprise. That epic street battle between rival news teams heads to Central Park. The quotable gag lines are back. (I predict Chicken of the Cave and Lace Man will reign supreme.)
Second verse, same as the first.
If you liked the 2004 original, “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” the wildly inappropriate sequel should tickle your funny bone as well.
For that matter, if you liked any of the broad comedies in which Will Ferrell ad-libs one-liners in excruciatingly embarrassing situations (“Talladega Nights,” “Step Brothers,” “Blades of Glory,” “Semi-Pro”), then “Anchorman: The Legend Continues” probably will not disappoint.
Just know going in that an overabundance of ad-libbing funnymen trying to top one another can wear on you, and not every plot-detouring gag scores a laugh. In fact, some fall wincingly flat. Ferrell and wincing sort of go together.
It's 1980, and co-anchors Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) and Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) are happily married with a young son.
That is, until a legendary retiring anchor (Harrison Ford) offers his job to Veronica (she'll be the first national-news female anchor) and fires Ron. When Ron tells her it's either the job or him, guess which one she chooses.
But soon Ron invades her New York City market anyway, hired by the first 24-hour news channel, GNN. He assembles his old anchor team, sex-crazed reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd); bigoted sportscaster Champ Kind (David Koechner), dweeb weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell).
The movie becomes a savvy sendup of what has happened to television news since the 1970s, crediting Burgundy with all the bad trends we see commonly today.
Annoying graphics at top and bottom of the screen? Ron wants more. And why, he asks, does the news have to be what people need to know? Why can't it be what they want to hear? Like how great America is. Or how badly a celebrity is behaving. Or the latest freeway car chase. Or lots of cute-animal stories.
Even the financial power behind GNN, an Australian who wants to bury a story that will hurt his business interests, seems modeled after a familiar media mogul.
Supporting roles that score unevenly include Kristen Wiig as a spacey receptionist Brick falls for; James Marsden as a prettier anchorman at GNN who bullies Ron; Greg Kinnear as Veronica's new psychologist boyfriend; and Meagan Good as Ron's producer boss, who finds him more sexually attractive with every new ratings success.
When we finally get to that big rumble in the park, the big names arrive in a cameo horde: Will Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Liam Neeson, Vince Vaughn, Kirsten Dunst, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Jim Carrey, Kanye West. They're funny cast as they are, but the scene itself gives them little to do beyond pose and doesn't really work all that well as a climactic topper.
Director Adam McKay lets the storyline meander several times, looking for laughs rather than furthering the plot. As with the ad-libbing, the result is mixed.
Fans of Burgundy and Ferrell won't care. “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” does not stay classy, but it does meet the expectations of the film's built-in audience. It may not quite be up to the original, but it's not a bust either.