REVIEW: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues [2013]

Score: 2/10 | ★


Rating: PG-13 | Runtime: 119 minutes | Release Date: December 18th, 2013 (USA)
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Director(s): Adam McKay
Writer(s): Will Ferrell & Adam McKay

“You knocked him back to the fifth grade”

When you couple my dislike of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy with my obvious indifference to the announcement of its long-awaited sequel, watching Harrison Ford on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in August proved a hilariously spot-on validation of my sheer inability to understand what everyone sees in Adam McKay and Will Ferrell‘s comedy classic. Brought on to shoot a yet-unknown cameo despite never having seen the original, Ford said, “I got down there; I had no idea who those guys were. And I still don’t know who they are or what they think they’re doing—because it’s clearly unreleasable.” After finally watching Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, I can safely say he wasn’t wrong. More bloated than the first, overflowing with superfluous characters, and seemingly phoned-in by all involved (Ford looks excruciatingly uncomfortable), it is a painful experience.

I would never call the 70s TV journalist chauvinism commentary subtle during the first chapter of Ron Burgundy’s (Ferrell) saga, but boy does this one hit us over the head with an iron for two-hours to drive home that 24-hour news stations only care about ratings while corporate advertising dollars dictate content. The satire is sloppily written in its quest to provide a venue for a lame bet (pun intended), OJ Simpson and Lorena Bobbitt jokes, and a subplot turning civil rights issues into “jive talk” and a headstrong woman coveting sex and success (Meagan Good‘s Linda Jackson). Half the film doesn’t even concern the news with a road trip reunion between Brian (Paul Rudd), Champ (David Koechner), and Brick (Steve Carell) and an epic miscalculation two-thirds in with a shark and blindness officially derailing any momentum it hoped it had.

It’s not surprising Ferrell and McKay took the “bigger is better” approach nor that new studio Paramount Pictures green-lit their nonsense after already passing on their original sequel plans two years earlier. The story beats are the same: Ron disgusts new love interest (Good) until his confidence makes her swoon, his getting fired lands him on hard times emotionally, and he discovers the true meaning of whatever his bullheaded idiocy won’t let him comprehend initially. This one also has a rise to impossible heights on the shoulders of a jingoistic, ADHD-riddled audience—complete with cut-scenes of lowest-common denominator men, women, and children blindly swearing allegiance to his shtick—followed by a hubristic fall courtesy of arch-nemesis Jack Lime (James Marsden). But that only leads to the worst sequence of over-the-top nonsense yet with the unfunny Oscar-hopeful song “Doby”.

If you thought the news team’s escapades were random in 2004, you need to forget Anchorman 2 was ever created because it takes that feeling to the nth degree. Champ and Brian have no business being in the plot besides the former giving his closeted homosexual undertones and the latter calling Ron a moron every time he opens his mouth; Burgundy’s ex-wife Veronica (Christina Applegate) seems unimpressed and less than happy she’s been relegated to the background with her obnoxious, cue-card reading son Walter (Judah Nelson); and newcomers Dylan Baker, Greg Kinnear, Josh Lawson, Good, and Marsden are nothing more than punchlines to awkward silences. Carell’s Brick and Kristen Wiig‘s Chani Lastnamé are the sole source of laughter until the requisite climactic brawl because their romance is cutely eccentric and refreshingly quiet to contrast the nuclear bomb surrounding them.

Are we supposed to care about the Burgundy divorce and if they’ll get back together? Is the main crux whether Good and Ferrell will cow-tow to boss Kench Allenby’s (Lawson) demands? Or should we be paying attention to the war between local news and syndicate news that’s introduced but left for dead halfway through? There’s so much going on that when we do find ourselves stuck at a lighthouse for twenty minutes it should be a reprieve rather than its sad, pathetic attempt for broad humor. Maybe Ferrell, McKay, and company purposely hammed it up to see if the mindless drones would still buy tickets after opening night. Would initial viewers allow themselves the opinion that it sucked or would the peer pressure of being “hip” and “cool” prevail? Being a social experiment can be its only excuse.

I know I’m far from the target audience considering I hated Anchorman on first viewing and hated it a tad less my second, but that doesn’t excuse the fact I was utterly bored until the news team no-holds-barred war I desperately hoped would arrive to save the train wreck came. The fight’s cameos are even bigger than before with some nice A-list talent and a few of the main cast’s buddies staging an elaborate CGI-assisted battle royale with explosions, wigs, and the Minotaur. Unfortunately, though, Paramount could have saved a lot of cash letting the troupe film just this scene for internet consumption rather than the inane strand of sketches and bits built around it. And now there are rumors a third could be in the pipeline? Really? Hopefully Bill Kurtis is still around to narrate it.

I question why it was made, why McKay would blatantly allow young Nelson to glance off-screen at lines while speaking in his shrill voice loudly and monotone, and whether the five or so audience members in my almost sold-out theatre laughing every time anyone opened their mouth were studio plants paid to do so. Three quarters of the jokes were rehashed from Anchorman, an eighth were callbacks, and the rest did genuinely hit their mark. That’s simply not enough for any movie to be a success creatively. It’s as though Burgundy and crew have willfully become parodies of their original parody—an idea that may have sounded good on paper but was executed poorly if truly the intent. And with the media saturation leading up to its release, this result just becomes a sad waste of everyone’s time.


photography:
[1] Photo credit: Gemma LaMana. (Left to right) David Koechner is Champ Kind, Paul Rudd is Brian Fantana, Will Ferrell is Ron Burgundy and Steve Carell is Brick Tamland in ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES to be released by Paramount Pictures. (c) MMXIII Paramount Pictures Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
[2] Photo credit: Gemma LaMana. James Marsden (center) is Jack Lime in ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES to be released by Paramount Pictures. (c) MMXIII Paramount Pictures Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
[3] Photo credit: Gemma LaMana. (Left to right) Will Ferrell is Ron Burgundy and Christina Applegate is Veronica Corningstone in ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES to be released by Paramount Pictures. (c) MMXIII Paramount Pictures Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

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