Not nearly as legendary as many made it out to be, at least the one-note humor of inept newscasters Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), Champ Kind (David Koechner), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) was mostly fresh in Anchorman. Back for more of the same just shy of a decade later, the crew’s random one-liners and annoying personas haven’t aged well, though die-hards of Adam McKay’s original likely won’t notice.
This predictable style feels especially out of place considering it’s rarely been employed to successful ends in the intervening years, even by its stars who now find themselves in wildly different places. Rudd and Carell are a great deal more famous, having proven themselves capable of more than these predictable gags, Koechner has fallen a bit off the mainstream map, and Ferrell’s career has emulated a cardiograph with many of his comedic ventures accounting for the chart’s low spots. Thrown together for Anchorman 2, it’s an odd, uneven cocktail as these actors play dress-up with characters who weren’t that wonderful to begin with.
Spinning its wheels the way only an unnecessary franchise can, the sequel amplifies the problems of the first film. If the laughs don’t come early, it’s going to be a long ride, especially with yet another “lose everything, then regain it” story with Ferrell at the helm, this one a lazy combination of Anchorman and Talladega Nights.
Banished from his home after refusing to respect the promotion of his wife/co-anchor Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) to nightly news anchor, Ron wallows in drunken hell of Sea World San Diego before Freddie Shapp (Dylan Baker) comes knocking with a job offer. At NYC’s experimental 24-hour news channel GNN with his old team, Ron strikes up a rivalry with primetime anchor Jack Lime (James Marsden) that’s far from the developed one he had with Veronica while his buddies act stupid because…well, because they’re stupid. Now, stupid can be funny, though the absence of a meaningful story lessens the odds. Blatant reaches for the next big catchphrase don’t help, especially when the content is this esoteric and reliant almost wholly upon delivery, and neither does a dopey song about a shark named Doby. Furthermore, if the film’s trailer hadn’t spoiled its best lines, a few jokes might have stood a chance, but it did, so they don’t and with a few precious exceptions that makes it tough to buy the remaining lame attempts.
One of these blessed standouts is a truly hilarious face by Kristen Wiig, the queen of such skills, playing a GNN secretary who may have eaten her fair share of paint chips as a child. Sadly, she shares nearly every scene with Brick, a terrible character who can’t hold his own yet gets plenty of opportunities, which Carrel promptly botches. With such factors resulting in a shocking amount of dead air, the wait for the inevitable big news team fight, a highlight of the first film, takes too long to arrive but is still a blast when it does. The pedigree of guest stars who show up is fairly staggering and viewers should abstain from researching the list in advance. On the heels of suffering through such a long laugh-free stretch, it’s nice to have some surprise entertainment even if it doesn’t come close to salvaging the film overall.
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, drug use, language and comic violence.
Anchorman 2 is currently playing at the Carolina Cinemas on Hendersonville Rd.
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