Director: Adam MacKay
Starring: Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, James Marsden, Meagan Good, Kristen Wiig
Written by: Will Ferrell and Adam MacKay
Running Time: 119 mins
Release date: 18th December 2013
Nine years. Nine long years we have waited for a sequel to one of the biggest, funniest comedies of recent memory (certainly the most quotable). Well now that smell of rich mahogany is back for a continuation of the legend, as Ron Burgundy and the new team return for a second helping of Anchorman and I, for one was very excited. It did it reach my expectations? Yes, it did but there was also a slight hint of disappointment too.
It’s the 80s and Ron Burgundy has the world at his feet. Married to Veronica Corningstone, he co-host a weekend news slot with her from New York and he has a son. Soon the bubble bursts, as he is fired, leaving Veronica to anchor alone. This sends Ron out of control in a whirlpool of self-destruction. Until he is invited to work for a brand new 24-hour news network. Getting his gang back together, sports nut Champ Kind, reporter Brian Fantana and weather man Brick Tamland, the news team face a series of new adventures as they enter the news corporation owned by Australian mogul Kentch Allenby and managed by Linda Jackson, a black woman in a powerful job that puts Ron in a delicate position.
There is absolutely no denying it but Anchorman 2 is funny. I mean really funny. One particular sequence involving the news team rolling in a crashing RV is one of the funniest sequences I have seen in a film in a very long time. There are loads of laugh out loud moments that are too many to mention and in a year when comedies have failed to deliver, it’s almost a blessing in disguise that we have one that genuine makes people laugh. It’s not as sharp as the original and it is slightly too long but we are in familiar territory here with characters that work, as well as a few neat little surprises.
Director Adam MacKay and his co-writer and star Will Ferrell have tried to move the now familiar faces on to the next level and with it are some very sharp moments of satire with I was not expecting, especially from an Anchorman film. It has plenty to say about 24 hour news networks, the massive overuse of graphics and the occasional dig at the men behind the scenes of new corporations. While these bits do come out of left field, we are also in the company of some very idiotic people indeed.
The cast is full of beans, from newcomers Meagan Good as the feisty Linda, to James Marsden smooth anchorman, Jack Lime but they play second fiddle to the boys. Even Christina Applegate, returning as Veronica, is given a smaller, less impact than the first film. It could also be said of so-stars Paul Rudd and David Koechner as Brian and Champ. Where they played such pivotal parts in the first film and here they do get their moments; Champ running a chicken shop that doesn’t sell chicken is a hoot whereas Brian’s photography of pussies isn’t what you are thinking of are very funny, they seem to merge into the background for most of the film.
Original favourite Brick, played with superb comic timing by Steve Carell, gets a bigger bite of the apple here with his own subplot, meeting and falling for the equally IQ-less Chani, played by the brilliant Kristen Wiig. The film belongs to Ferrell, who has taken a simple new reader and turned him into a comedy legend. Burgundy is still as blinkered and egotistical as ever but Ferrell has given him more screen time and that’s problematic. Ron is very funny but he needs the support of his boys. Far too often, he is left alone or with minor characters and you can see the slight cracks in the comedy that leave you tittering more than giggling. He still has some gems he delivers but without the support of Brian and Champ and Brick, he’s less so.
It also suffers from more of a hit or miss attitude to the comedy. The scene in which Ron has dinner with Linda’s family, while massively un-politically correct, sits slightly uncomfortably and is the kind of cringe-worthy comedy that Sasha Baron Cohen can produce with ease. Here it’s not so easy. The part when Ron has an accident is strangely non Anchorman and while amusing, goes on far too long and did cause some people to leave the screening I was in. It is given a new lease of life after when a bigger news fight breaks out with some very impressive and surprising cameos (I won’t say anything and spoil it).
So what we have is a very decent Anchorman film that could have been tighter, with sharper lines to recite and more of the news team together and less of Ron alone. It still made me laugh like a loon and it felt like slipping into a comfortable slipper. Not the perfect sequel I was hoping for but still miles funnier than most of the comedies out this year.