It’s kind of hard to write a fleshed-out review of Anchorman 2, as comedy is subjective, and that’s especially the case with a comedy sequel. More so, this is also a film that isn’t so hysterically funny that I’m struggling to type correctly because my stomach is still convulsing with laughter, nor is it a bad comedy that is so terrible that I want to belittle the writers and actors for doing such a horrible job.
I’m someone who loves the characters not only from the first film, but from the outtakes, the quasi-sequel made up of deleted scenes (Wake Up, Ron Burgundy), and the fully dedicated press tour that has stormed through the country for the past month. These are characters I genuinely enjoy watching do almost anything, so even if Anchorman 2 wasn’t the prime example of comedy brilliance, it was still really fun, for me, to watch this movie.
That being said, maybe an area or two they got wrong while working on this new project is that of balance. Brick Tamland gets pushed a little too much into the spotlight, and Champ Kind and Brian Fantana are criminally underused. I get why they did it, as Steve Carell has become a much bigger star over the past ten years than anyone could have imagined, and certainly more than when he was a goofy side character in the first Anchorman. All of the college dudes I was in the theater with last night were clapping and laughing boisterously at all of Brick’s lines. To be fair, his jokes were funny, but I just felt like other characters got pushed aside so Carell could have a little more of the spotlight. But I would take another two scenes that were the caliber of Champ discussing the benefits of using bat meat in his restaurant, over the Brick/Kristen Wiig love story line that, while funny, doesn’t really go anywhere great in the end.
Anchorman 2 probably shines its brightest when it’s at its most strange and nonsensical. Every so often, we are rewarded with scenes like the musical ballad of Ron’s pet shark, and they are great. And of course, the battle scene at the end, full of all the great unexpected cameos you could possibly want, was absolutely terrific. The ghost of Stonewall Jackson probably got the biggest laugh of the movie out of me. Again, the more ridiculous Anchorman 2 wanted to be, the better it became. But a lot of the movie felt like it was just these four funny dudes sitting on a set, riffing jokes off one another, and then Adam McKay piecing together the best jokes in the editing room. That’s not the worst thing in the world, but it made this sequel feel like it had less of a satisfying story than the first one.
But I did like the “message” of the film, about how 24 hour news networks tend to just give people what they want, instead of what they need. Much like Will Ferrell’s other recent comedy, The Campaign, it’s a pretty spot on take down of just how dumb Americans can get when it comes to how the media spins things.
I’d recommend seeing this film if you liked the first one. It has consistent laughs throughout, and a lot of them are outward laughs, not just those tiny nose exhale laughs. At the very least, it’s a two-hour comedy that I didn’t feel like dragged on forever. That’s a plus! I doubt you’ll find it as quotable as the first one though, but that’s the problem when you try to follow up a classic. But I’d definitely take another Anchorman sequel ten years from now if it means another Ron Burgundy press tour.
8 out of 10