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Ignoring the fact that the best way of staying classy would have been not to make a sequel, the unfortunate truth is that Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues just isn’t funny enough to justify its own existence. It’s an inconsistent mismatch, where the all-too-infrequent moments of brilliance merely just serve to highlight the mediocrity of everything else. The original Anchorman may have been patchy as hell, but at least the jokes were fresh last time around – there are far too many instances here of blatant repetition from the first film, with many of the original’s best parts having been stripped of any of their previous creativity and served up with an almost apologetic air. It seems like arrogance on the part of the filmmakers- just because a joke was funny 10 years ago doesn’t mean the same joke will be funny now. Maybe a bit of risk-taking would have livened up proceedings slightly. As it is, the same setups that worked so marvellously last time just feel tired and clichéd when they’re desperately rehashed here.
Steve Carell’s socially inept weatherman Brick Tamland has regressed from the inspired ‘I love lamp’ lunacy of the first film to arbitrarily shouting nonsense whenever the surprisingly shoddy script runs out of steam, and his character is now so unstable that it genuinely feels like we are laughing at someone with a serious mental handicap. Similarly, many of the most pant-wettingly funny moments from the original – the News team brawl, Ron Burgundy fighting a woman (and losing), Brian Fantana’s special cupboard- are recreated here, but with none of the inventiveness we have seen before. The former event just seems like an excuse for the producers to shoehorn in a bunch of celebrity cameos- some of which work (Sacha Baron Cohen, Jim Carrey, Marion Cotillard), some of which don’t (erm…Kanye West). It all gets very tiresome, very quickly. At least this scene is inoffensive, which can’t be said of some of the others.
An episode where the hapless Burgundy repeats ‘black’ towards his African-American boss is incredibly unfunny, as well as being lifted straight from Austin Powers: Goldmember (it was the word ‘mole’ then but it’s the same concept), and an excruciatingly dull lighthouse scene is basically just laughing at blindness. This from the same people that wrote ‘60% of the time it works…every time’. Laziness. Frankly, the whole film could have done with some ruthless editing. It clocks in at 119 minutes, which is rather on the long side for a comedy, and perhaps if it was 20 minutes shorter, we’d have had a much punchier, higher quality movie. Certain sub-plots, such as Burgundy’s raising of a shark, seem perfect for the cutting room floor. And the weaker moments are incredibly detrimental to what could have been a great sequel.
Because this is an Anchorman film, naturally, there are some terrifically funny moments here. Burgundy shouting out the news headlines because they were written in capital letters, Brick’s confusion over his lack of legs on the television screen, Burgundy’s confusion over what is between his legs… these are moments that could have come straight out of the original. There are so many jokes attempted that, even though many fall flat, there’s still a hearty belly laugh every few minutes. Add in some surprisingly acute satirising of the state of the news industry, and you’re left with a strange cocktail of a film- sharp and witty on the one hand, banal and derivative on the other. Overall then? Far from the disaster it could have been, but, much like its moustachioed protagonist, let down by its own hubris. “Take me to Pleasure Town….” Not this time, Mr Burgundy.