Starring: Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell
The 70s are over and loud mouthed anchorman supreme Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) has just been sacked and left his wife (Christina Applegate). After losing his job at Dolphin World for apparently inappropriately touching starfish, Ron is at rock bottom, until he is offered a job at GNN in New York, the very first 24 hour news channel. He manages to assemble his old team only to discover that they are giving the 3am graveyard shift. After making a bet, Ron is forced to boast his rating by making the news ‘less boring’ and telling the public “not what they need to hear, but what they want to hear.” This is now the 80s and the world is a different place, and Ron and his team must adapt. Sort of.
In what is a comparatively long time for comedy films, it has been nearly ten years since Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. It was a film that almost became a success by accident; it had poor box office returns and was essentially a series of improvised sketches built around a wafer thin plot as per the norm for the genre. Yet it eventually built up a huge cult following with people constantly quoting the film and confirmed Will Ferrell and Steve Carrell as big names (for me Paul Rudd was already a big name). So, nine years on and with the cast being comedy A-listers, a big budget and even bigger expectations this was going to be tough, especially as so many comedy films have fallen into the trap of self indulgence and no effort. Well, I did really like Anchorman and it did make me laugh, and so was desperately hoping The Legend Continues would make me laugh at least just as much.
Well, I am relieved to say it did make me laugh, and that is the most important thing. Naturally, those (and there are many) that really do not like Will Ferrell’s loud and often random style of comedy should of course avoid Anchorman 2. For the rest of us that laughed and often quoted Anchorman then The Legend Continues I feel satisfies any pre film anxieties. Comedy is of course notoriously difficult to get right (and indeed review). We all have varying senses of humour and whether a film is good or not is of course subjective, with comedy surely being the most subjective of genres. Comedy is notoriously difficult to get right, both in terms of acting and writing with there being such a fine line between smug self indulgence and genuinely funny and self referential.
For me recent examples have demonstrated the risks; This is the End flirted with smugness but had the energy to just get away with it and was very funny, while The World’s End was a complacent, lazy and extremely self indulgent affair. With this being the highly anticipated sequel to an overly quoted film with very popular characters, I must confess to entering Anchorman 2 with certain fears. We certainly have old jokes re hashed, such as Brian’s cabinet and a battle scene between rival reporters (cameos ago-go), the latter being funnier than the former. Ferrell and co apparently had enough material for two films, so expect the usual plethora of deleted and alternate scenes on retail release, of course the trick is to how much to include in the actual film without trying people’s patience. Indeed it was quite obvious that Ferrell and McKay really didn’t know how to end the film and the narrative does kind of just suddenly stop.
At Just under two hours I felt The Legend Continues did at times feel long winded and there were many scenes that perhaps could have been left on the floor of the editing room. Then saying that, it was a busy cinema and different people laughed at different scenes, once again not only proving the subjective nature of comedy but posing the question of what scenes would be cut. I can only of course speak for myself, and the textbook formula of improvised sketches and little plot naturally contains hits and misses. I however found there to be more hits than misses, making me often laugh and so therefore I would recommend The Legend Continues to fans of number one.
Yes there is apparent satire of the introduction of rolling news and the idea that the media tell people what they want to know, not what they should know. The news channel is owned by a corrupt Australian with Richard Branson hair who stops Ron and co. from reporting on the morally dubious side to another of his business interests, oh so subtle! Though always amusing but never exactly biting or clever, this along with being set in a different decade allows The Legend Continues to set itself apart from number one and stops a complete feeling of copy and paste.
Certainly evolution not revolution, the setting of a different decade provides the necessary element of freshness; this is otherwise more of the same from Ferrell and co. with the ratio of hits exceeding the misses. Though the run time is a little too long, those who laughed at Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy will in my view find plenty to laugh at in The Legend Continues.