Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy was released in 2004 and, very generally, people I know tend to either love it or hate it. I fell pretty squarely in the “love it camp but in reflection I could have easily gone the other way. You see Anchorman was originally going to have a lot more going on. In fact there were so many different takes and removed sub plots that they were eventually assembled into a whole other film titled “Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie“.
Most of Wake Up isn’t good and it’s easy to see why none of it was included in Anchorman.
I am telling you all of this because I really feel like Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues could really have done with a bunch of stuff cut out.
Anchorman 2 picks up sometime after the first film ended, Ron and Veronica are anchoring the news in New York City and after another successful broadcast they’re called up to the office of Mack Harken, the king of late night national news where Veronica is offered the job to take over for him and Ron is fired setting up most of the conflict in the film by leading Ron to seek redemption from his old news team, his old love and so on and so forth.
The rest of the film plays out pretty much like you”d expect with Ron and the team acting offensively and irresponsibly and while this leads to a couple of big laughs it mostly just falls flat. The problem feels to me like that the movie is trying to be two things: it is at times either crass and offensive and at times it’s just completely absurd I really feel that if it had committed to being one or the other it could have been a better film.
The result is that the film is all over the place, not just in tone but pacing. There are several plot lines which the film jumps between awkwardly and all of them. Ron Burgundy’s personal journey is the main of these and most of it is a retread of the first film, but rather than just sexism vs. Veronica Corningstone he has to deal with his own sexism and racism with the strong african american female boss in Meagan Good. He also has to deal with reconciling with Veronica and the news team again, and in the latter case twice.
Brick gets his own side plot where he meets a love interest in Kristen Wiig and while I enjoyed Brick’s character most in these sequences –away from the rest of the news team– the plot line overall didn’t really work for me.
One of the best parts of Champ’s character in the first film was the undercurrent of sexual obsession with Ron and in this film it’s his characters sole defining characteristic. Not that Champ was the deepest or characters but he really is a one joke pony in Anchorman 2.
Paul Rudd, as with the first film, steals every scene he’s in but Brian Fantana seems to have no real place in the film. He’s alternately the moral center of the team and the one who speaks for the rest when Ron is inevitably being a dick, but he’s also the most ridiculous at times and other than a few obvious references references to the first film his wannabe ladies man characterization from the first film is all but abandoned.
James Marsden also appears as Ron’s rival at the new 24 hours news network they all go to work for but while his character gets off to a good start his conflict with Ron is dealt with too soon and then left to simmer in the background until the end and that’s pretty unsatisfying.
The rest of the scenes just play out like a greatest hits reel from the first film. That’s not exactly a problem and it provides some of the better laughs in the film but I’d rather have some more new material. Also, when it finally comes down to the big news team rumble that you know is coming the movies goes fully ridiculous with it and while that’s actually kind of awesome it really doesn’t fit with the rest of the movie.
All in all Anchor Man 2: The Legend Continues can be summed up by saying “too much.” It really feels like there was no one around during the writing and filming of the film to say “no” to anyone. No this might not be a good idea, not this joke isn’t funny, no we don’t need four plot lines. The film as is does have a few big laughs as I said before but overall there’s just too much.