Cut the anchor and throw him into the Hudson
Remember Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy? – the 2004 co-effort from partners-in-comedy Will Ferrell and Adam McKay (Talladega Nights, Step Brothers, The Other Guys). I must say I wasn’t aware that I needed a sequel, but ten years after the smash hit, here it is.
All in all, Anchorman 2 is a perfectly adequate saga installment. Although it takes not a few liberties with its overall plausibility, it tells the story of the ridiculous, moustachioed Burgundy getting sacked from the news network, of his wife (Applegate) getting the position she wanted, and of Burgundy getting head-hunted by a talent scout from a competing NYC network.
Suddenly in a position to show his now ex-wife he is the better anchor, Burgundy sets out to round up his old news team, dodgy screwballs and all.
But being used to San Diego, NYC proves a bit of a jungle for everyone – which allows the gags to fall neatly into the categories of racial hang-ups, professional humiliation, romantic hiccups and cosmopolitan cluelessness.
Which is all good and well., but it’s the film’s comedic leitmotif I find so tiresome. Now, we all know how hard sequels are to pull off. But though Anchorman 2’s central bumpkins are all clearly enjoying themselves (the set-pieces function and the 1980s hairstyles and sartorial fads are hilariously recalled), it remains impossible to get excited by a comedy that constantly wrings mileage out of people simply being all shades of dumb – from obtuse and provincial (Ferrell) all the way to clinically retarded (Carell – after Crazy Stupid Love, I really thought he had done with roles this shabby and sad).
Surely, for a brain-dead gag to work, the absence of brain must take us by surprise. No surprise, no joke.
I commend Anchorman 2 for relying on the cast to improvise and for steering clear of extreme gross-out in the style of the Farrelly Brothers (in terms of body functions, say, the line is drawn just the other side of erections).
Too bad we’re still left with a film I’d despair to be treated to if bored stiff on a ten-hour flight.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (11)
Dir: Adam McKay; US comedy, 2013, 119 mins; Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Christina Applegate, James Marsden, Kirsten Wig
Premiered January 30