Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)
Starring: Will Ferrel (Anchorman), Paul Rudd (This is 40), Steve Carell (Dan in Real Life)
‘She has butterflies in her heart’, and ‘Last night a bird followed me home and I wished It was you’ are just two of the many, many, many awkwardly crazy lines in Anchorman 2. The film suffers from over elaborateness; a desperate desire to be off-the-wall, and this is its biggest downfall. While Anchorman was naturally, effortlessly zany, Anchorman 2 seems aware of the expectation, of the pressure, to create a whole new batch of quotable lines. It’s trying so hard that it hurts.
The first quarter/third of the film is relatively funny, but straightforwardly so – getting the band back together is a simple way to get laughs, which isn’t to say that it’s wrong, but it IS easy. After that it is all downhill. We have comedy set pieces with sharks, blindness and a fight so ridiculous and fantastical that it loses the hyper realism charm of the original’s equivalent.
There’s also some borderline racism. Well, it is not meant maliciously, but it is also horribly misjudged. The cast and crew could justifiably claim that jokes at the expense of black people in the film are to expose how small minded and stupid these dated anchor-men are. However, the first instance of this kind is Ron’s irrepressible use of the word ‘black’ to his new black female boss (see the mole scene in Austin Powers in Goldmember for a carbon copy done light years ago and ten times funnier). As a comedy set-piece it is so lazy that it deserves no credit of satire. In this particular screening it felt like the audience were laughing with Ron and not at him, at least more so than what is comfortable. This is an error of judgement on part of the whole cast and crew. Never mind it potentially being offensive, even if this wasn’t the case, such jokes so lacking in satirical content are ultimately boring and stale. They are played in a similar way to the sexism humour in the original, but they fail to realise that racial based humour must come laden with far more sensitivity and intelligence in order to be satirical, rather than Ron simply repeating the word black to a black woman.
Repetition is a problem in the whole film on a more general scale. Firstly, the structures of jokes are repetitive. Here the gang go again, verbally wandering down a tangent ending in a zany, unrelated comment. The gang have honed their improvisation skills so well that they are no longer character-based, they are unidentifiable and bland. The final cut is laden with saggy, self-assured improv. Secondly, jokes are recycled from the original. We have ‘San DiAgo’, Wes Mantooth and his mother, the over the top fight… It is laboured, stale and awkward to watch. The spirit of the original, if intact, would never dip into old material. It would come out blazing with all new hilarity.
The character Brick is also a problem. At the time of the original, Steve Carell was not a big household name and thus Brick remained a side-line muse to be puzzled by. Here he is pushed to the fore due to Carell’s stardom and undoubted talent, but it ruins the dynamic of the character. In the spotlight a sidekick should not be, and Brick’s overuse leads him to be tiresome and annoying. He even has a relationship sub plot which, while it has its moments, isn’t necessary for the narrative of the whole film, which is a real drag when it is clearly at least twenty minutes overlong.
Summary: If fans of the original liked the surrealism elements, they will love the sequel as this is turned up to eleven, but either way this is without doubt a far inferior comedy to the first, purely due to far fewer laughs. If you didn’t like or didn’t see the first, this ISN’T the chance to jump on board – steer well clear.
Compared directly to the original this is a shambles and so must be rated as such.
Rating: 1 out of 5