Review: 'Anchorman 2' doesn't match up to original

Rating

3 Stars3/5

Steve Tilley, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:36 PM ET

By the bedpan of Gene Rayburn and the hymen of Olivia Newton-John, Ron Burgundy - the man, the myth, the hair - is back.

Temper your rejoicing, though. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues falls into the very trap that star Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay had avoided all these years with their no-sequels stance: it's messier, more contrived and generally less funny than the original.

There are big laughs to be had - you can't look at Ferrell in '70s lapels, blow-dried hair and that magnificent mustache and not feel the urge to giggle - but it's the Nancy Grace to the original's Rachel Maddow.

The story opens with Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) and his co-anchor wife, Veronica Corningstone-Burgundy (Christina Applegate) as the top news team in San Diego, and all is well. But when a network job opens up in New York City, only Veronica is offered the gig - Ron is unceremoniously fired, thanks to his endless on-air screwups.

After some time drunkenly abusing patrons as a Sea World host, Ron is handed a golden opportunity: round up the old news team of Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), Champ Kind (David Koechner) and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) and head to New York, where the nation's first 24-hour news channel is being readied for launch.

Ha ha, 24-hour news? As if that would ever become a thing!

It's been impossible to ignore the return of Anchorman, thanks to the tireless Ferrell appearing in character everywhere from car commercials to curling competitions to an actual newscast in North Dakota.

But that's the problem with Anchorman 2 - it's too self-aware, and doesn't back up this winky-winky-hey-look-we're-back-again with enough genuine laughs. Instead, Ferrell, McKay and company load their comedy shotgun with every absurd idea they can find, from on-air crack smoking to Ron going (temporarily) blind, and open fire on the audience indiscriminately.

The original Anchorman had its warts, but the movie has taken on a life of its own since its 2004 release, and it's nigh-on impossible to discuss scotch, lamps or regrettable decisions without reflexively quoting some of its best bits.

It's hard to imagine Anchorman 2 achieving that same cult status. In particular, Carell's endearing, lamp-loving Brick is somehow the movie's most annoying and unnecessary character.

Anchorman 2 is at its best when it's about Ron trying to come to terms with his new job and his new, aggressive boss (Meagan Good), and it has some clever things to say about the 24-hour news cycle.

And although the movie slowly saps the audience's goodwill over its more than two-hour length, a scene near the end that recalls the original Anchorman's rumble between two news stations is so hilariously heavy with cameos - including an apologetic Canadian news team led by our own Jim Carrey - it's practically worth the price of admission.

Like a bottle of wine or Sex Panther cologne, maybe Anchorman 2 will improve with age. But let this be a lesson to those of us who beg for sequels to cult classics: 60 percent of the time, they fail every time.


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