You can’t win ’em all, even if you are Will Ferrell.
After the success of The Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy which basically poked good-natured fun at the journalism industry as a whole, the same team of Judd Apatow (producer) and Adam McKay (director) came up with an idea for a sequel. Now, San Diego’s top anchorman Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) and Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), now married, have hit the big time, reading the 6:30 news for a New York based station. When Veronica gets promoted, making history as the first woman to read the news for primetime, Ron loses his job and self esteem, only to be brought in by a new network which seeks to deliver 24 hours of non stop news. Ron, who initially lands the graveyard shift, brings in his team from San Diego and turns the tides to rewrite history in the field of news reporting.
I actually think that Will Ferrell has built a niche for himself by making movies about “legendary” celebrities who really don’t deserve to be famous like Ricky Bobby and Ron Burgundy and for the most part, the comedy worked. I thought the first Anchorman was quite funny, and not much has changed for the sequel, except that the characters have deteriorated to the point that they were not quite as hilarious as they were in the original movie. They still played the same characters, true, but their material seemed to be running thin and ragged as they basically just recycled the gags they used before. It was not a pretty sight.
It was frustrating because Ron, who was simply a goofball with an inflated ego in the first movie, was promoted into a Class A jackass, stupid beyond belief, mostly landing on his feet because of pure luck. There was nothing charming about his self centeredness and nothing endearing about the things he did in this movie. It was quite frustrating because there was a pool of really great comedians on board, and even James Marsden, who played top anchorman Jack Lime, let go of his inhibitions and tried his best to deliver the laughs from his character. The only standouts for me in this movie were Steve Carell ad Kristin Wiig who played equally clueless and weird characters Brick and Chani.
It was weird because 22 Jump Street did the same thing (recycle material from the original and ran with it) but for Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, it worked because there was an obvious effort to breathe fresh life into the material. With the Anchorman sequel, it seemed like the gang was just going through the motions. They seemed to get lazy, believing that the leftover good vibes from their roles from the original would automatically carry over to the sequel.
I only found one scene particularly funny, and it was the showdown of the news anchors, a gag recycled from the original, but this time, it was leveled up due to the number of appearances by guest stars — Will Smith, John C. Reilly, Marion Cotillard, Jim Carrey, Liam Neeson, Harrison Ford, Sacha Baron Cohen and Vince Vaughn as a rival anchor from the first movie. I admit the scene was hilarious but unfortunately, it was not enough to compensate for the general lameness of the film.
All in all, I was quite frustrated by this sequel. Sure, I wasn’t really expecting much given that I have seen the first movie, but I was really disappointed by the weak material and was offended by the lack of effort by Grade A comedians to deliver on the laughs. I felt like a couple of my brain cells died sitting through this movie. In truth, I only sat through it to give it a fair chance. My advice — see something else.