“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” Movie Review

     Since we know filmmaking in Hollywood is strictly a money making venture, you have to figure if Will Ferrell and collaborator Adam McKay would've had a worthwhile idea for an "Anchorman" sequel sooner than now, they most certainly would've ran with it. It is therefore shocking to me that with nearly 10 years of thought and gestation, the screenplay these two have written for "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" is merely a replay of the first film with only the location being a noticeable change. Essentially, Ferrell and McKay have taken a page from the "Hangover" trilogy play book with a similar result. There's no denying Ron Burgundy is Will Ferrell's signature character, what with the plethora of effective in character promotional appearances that proceeded the film's opening as well as the solid foundation created by the first film. Ron Burgundy is a transcendent character in much the same way Austin Powers was for Mike Myers in that neither actor has been able to create something reaching the same level since. As Myers did twice (with significantly better results), it makes sense to revisit the Burgundy character, but shouldn't the expectation be a film that can stand on it's own?

     I must admit, the mannerisms Ferrell has perfected for this character have me laughing in most scenes, regardless of the quality of dialogue or the comic timing of the situation. For some, this quality alone may carry the picture and provide enough laughs to perhaps create some level of word of mouth. Burgundy and his news team are back and having left the 70s and their previous employer behind, they are hired by a fledgling 24 hour news network called GNN, undoubtedly modeled after CNN and that network's early days. Now in the 80s, Burgundy hasn't changed much, and neither have his co-workers. Brick (Steve Carell), Brian (Paul Rudd), and Champ (David Koechner) all return from the first outing and the group's chemistry on screen remains undeniable. The trick, as with any comedy, is to give these talented actors funny things to say and do. There are certain moments where they succeed in doing so, but more often than not, the filmmakers choose to go back to the well, rather than create something original.

     The film generally never quite gets it right. Various scenes and subplots from the original are rehashed, including full sequences again dedicated to Burgundy's solo flute playing talents, Brian's hidden stashes, and an outrageous brawl between rival news teams. Also, like the first film, the narrative takes us through Burgundy's rise and then fall, only to rise again. Even when new elements are presented, the result seems to be not the one intended. Frequent interaction between Brick and a like minded character, Chani ( Kristen Wiig), are awkward and bring what ever the film had going for it before to a crashing halt. Other bits that include Burgundy's temporary bout with blindness and the befriending of a pet great white shark are lame, unfunny, and miss the mark completely.

     If there is a lone bright spot, it may be Burgundy's new African American boss at GNN, Linda (Meegan Good), and the ensuing relationship that produces a meet the family dinner at her parent's house. Burgundy's feeble attempt at fitting in produce some of the best laughs the film has to offer, though they are few and far between in a film that feels like it's at least a half hour too long. Burgundy's other love interest, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), isn't given much to do with appearances in the beginning and end but not in between. Veronica functioned mainly as an adversary in the news room in the first film and the tension produced plenty of memorable comic fireworks. Not so much this time around and the cardboard villain manufactured as competition at GNN, news anchor Jack Lime (James Marsden), feels forced, while never ascending to the level of a true threat. The bumble headed Burgundy improbably shoves him aside and is anointed the lead anchor with relative ease.

     There's no doubt "Anchorman 2" aims to poke fun at the media and the often larger than life figures which the networks aim to produce. The original is a film I consider to be one of the best sketch comedies of all time, but this lackluster sequel doesn't dare break any new ground. Ferrell and McKay instead seem to remain in there already created comfort zone, following the same comedic tropes seen in other marginal sequels such as "Wayne's World 2" and "Vegas Vacation". There's no doubt they pulled out all the stops (the number of cameos is probably a record of some kind), but unfortunately, there just wasn't much left in the tank. GRADE: D