Anchorman was never my favorite Will Ferrell film. I liked it when I saw it as a young lad almost ten years ago, but I’ve always been more partial to Step Brothers or The Other Guys. But it seems to me none of Ferrell’s work has the fan-base that Anchorman has. It seems to be most people’s favorite, and so understandably, a lot of people were pumped about the sequel coming out last year. So I thought it weird that I never heard much about Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues after it was finally released. Well, I now understand why; it’s really bad.
The film picks up with Ron Burgundy and his wife in New York; they’re co-anchors until his wife gets a promotion and Burgundy is fired. Six months later, he is hired by GNN, the first 24-hour news network, to anchor the graveyard shift. So Ron gets the old gang back together and becomes a sensation reporting on puppies, car chases and crack smoking instead of real news. But how long will the fame last?
Watching the film, it’s clear the plot wasn’t the first thing on the minds of Ferrell and director and longtime collaborator Adam McKay. The loose thread of a plot simply exists to push the film from joke set-piece to joke set-piece. The thread unravels in the last 45 minutes, where we are treated to scenes set in lighthouses, Ferrell bottle-feeding a shark, and Kanye West cameos for no logical reason whatsoever. It’s a mess.
This would be fine if the film was funny. I mean, I don’t remember much of the plot of the first Anchorman. But the problem is it’s just not. There are laughs to be had, but for every successful punchline, there’s about five that crash and burn. The Legend Continues keeps with the Ferrell-McKay formula of fast, furious and scattershot humor, but something about it just doesn’t work this time. It feels like they’re trying way too hard. The constant attempts at “randomness” as humor are often just hard to sit through.
The worst offender of this is Steve Carell’s character, Brick Tamland. While the character is responsible for perhaps the most quoted line of the first film (“I love lamp”), every second of his screen-time here is enraging. Intelligence-lacking Tamland is an okay idea for a minor character, but Carell’s increased fame (the first Anchorman came out before The Office even premiered!) has pushed the character to the forefront, and the result is overkill. There’s also a romantic subplot for Tamland featuring Kristen Wiig, and their attempts at humor are seriously painful. By the end, I was cringing every time Carell showed up on-screen, which is a shame considering his comedic expertise.
The only times the film is laudable is when it critiques our 24-hour fluff news coverage. I’m a journalism student, and I oftentimes find broadcast news hard to watch and completely devoid of content. Anchorman 2 hits the nail on the head here and there with its criticisms, but any moment of worthwhile social commentary is almost immediately squandered by a facepalm-worthy joke. It’s a shame.
Add to its flaws an insufferable 120-minute running time, and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is a chore to sit through. Ultra-fans of the first Ron Burgundy adventure might find humor in the rehashes of jokes, but for anybody else, this is the worst Will Ferrell film since Semi-Pro. It’s probably even worse. Don’t waste your time, just watch Step Brothers for the 15th time instead.