REVIEW: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

6 01 2014

Maybe Adam McKay should have let the marketing and promotions team write the movie “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” for he and Will Ferrell.  They certainly had a much better grasp of the power present in Ron Burgundy’s cult iconography gained over the year and used it to leverage interest in a follow-up to a film released nearly a decade prior.  It’s a shame that the abysmal sequel had nothing to deliver.

I certainly don’t dislike 2004’s “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” but I never quite understood why it above other movies had gained such a foothold in the pop culture lexicon.  A plethora of lines from the original film are now such staples of conversation these days that I often forget their origin. While I was entertained by the movie the one time I watched it on HBO, I certainly did not think it deserved a sequel over a film like, say, “Pineapple Express” or “Role Models.”

While the former got a humorous pseudo-sequel in “This Is The End,” I can now say with certainty I never want to see a follow-up to the latter after “Anchorman 2” just destroyed the legacy of its predecessor.  While there are intermittent laughs to be had, the utter stupidity of its jokes and lack of care in maintaining its characters made for what might be the most unpleasant moviegoing experience of 2013.

Anchorman 2

For starters, the comedy clocks in at nearly two hours long.  Judd Apatow’s dramatic comedies “Funny People” and “This is 40” barely earn that length, but at least they offer a plot to hook an audience.  “Anchorman 2” feels like sketch comedy strung together by a loose storyline.  The movie plays like a “Best Of” compilation for the Channel 4 news team, except one where the editing team picked their most unfortunate moments.

Most of the weight is put on Ferrell’s shoulders, obviously, but an undue amount of screen time is also given to Steve Carell’s Brick Tamland.  He worked as a brilliant scene-stealer in the first “Anchorman” precisely because he lurked in the background and surprised us by making off-color remarks.  Here, he’s given to us in abundance, ruining the bizarre charm Carell was able to accomplish before.  Brick does get a romantic prospect in an oddball character played by Kristen Wiig, but again, the whole thing just feels like a “Saturday Night Live” sketch where the concept is funny for a moment but then falls somewhere in the area between painful and downright embarrassing.

Director Adam McKay overcompensates for the lack of laughs coming from his leading men by managing to get just about every comedic actor (and a few surprising dramatic actors) working in Hollywood to make a cameo appearance in the film.  Perhaps, then, the most impressive accomplishment of “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” was coordinating that many schedules to get everyone to set on the same day.  As amusing as what I saw might have been, I couldn’t escape the sinking feeling that the union of all these talents was significantly more fun for the comedians than it was for the viewers.  D+ / 1star

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