Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy has now replaced the immortal Ted Knight’s Ted Baxter as America’s favorite bumbling television anchorman. To be fair to Ted Baxter, not even the Mary Tyler Moore show had the back-up cast that Ron Burgundy enjoys. Cameo appearances abound in “Anchorman 2,” particularly toward the end in a battle of chaotic lunacy not seen since last night’s cable news debates. I want to name names, but it’s more fun (especially since the movie will have been dragging a bit at this point), to spot them for yourself.
“Anchorman 2” picks up where the original left off, with our hero happily married to Veronica Corningstone (the delightful Christina Applegate). But after a promotion at the TV station threatens to make Ron a stay-at-home dad, Ron leaves his wife and son to seek his fortune elsewhere. After falling into despair, he’s approached by an all-new 24-hour news network that wants him for one last shot at stardom. Ron reassembles the team, and proceeds to make news what it is today – a series of car chases, graphics, split screens, sensationalism, and celebrity gossip.
The movie is funniest as it pokes fun at CNN, Fox, and the American appetite for sensationalism. But don’t expect too much hard-hitting parody here. “Anchorman 2” is, at it’s core, a rapid-fire succession of jokes of varying degrees of crudeness. But unlike “joke-a-minute” films like most of the Scary Movie franchise or “Movie 43,” Anchorman delivers enough laughs to keep you laughing and interested. It’s absolutely juvenile and stupid, but that’s what you expect from these characters.
Steve Carell is a standout as Brick, the aptly named weatherman, who is dumb as a, well, brick. He’s given a love-interest in the form of the criminally underutilized actress Kristen Wiig. Paul Rudd as action camera/newsman Brian Fantana also snags his share of laughs.
The film could have been cut by 30 minutes and it wouldn’t have skipped a beat. That said, it could have been 70 minutes longer, and you might feel the same way. With the Legend of Ron Burgundy now featuring sharks, disabilities, racial tension, a ghost, a goddess, a ray gun, several perms, and the always-present mustache, it’s difficult to imagine where it might go next … but I expect audiences will be lining up for it again.
If I had to rate the film, I’d say it’s closer to Fox News than CNN or MSNBC, but I’d still pay matinee or share a few beers with friends before viewing.