Few films face as much pressure as “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.”
Not only was the possibility of a sequel to 2004’s “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” a longshot, to say the least, but the media blitz leading up to the release threatened to overexpose the movie before it even hit the big screen.
Luckily, the long-awaited follow-up (mostly) lives up to the hype. With the ‘70s in their rearview mirror, mustachioed man-child Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and his now-wife, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) are living the dream.
Their careers are on fire, they’re happily married and they have a little boy together named Walter (adorable newcomer Judah Nelson). And then it all comes crumbling down.
After hitting rock bottom once again, Ron reunites with his old news team: womanizing field reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), dim-witted weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) and cowboy newscaster Champ Kind (David Koechner).
Of course, the rules for any successful sequel dictate that the stakes need to be raised, so this time, the boys enter the as-yet-uncharted world of 24/7 cable news.
Like a well-oiled machine, Ferrell and his buddies come together as their characters revolutionize the news business by giving the country what they want to hear, not what they need to hear.
What follows is a stinging, satirical take on all that is wrong with cable news today, from emphasizing feelings over facts to the overzealous use of graphics and even a running gag about car chases (“It’s not even news!”).
The film proves adept at introducing the team behind the Global News Network (GNN), including rival news anchor Jack Lime (a wonderfully smarmy James Marsden), their take-no-prisoners boss Linda Jackson (Meagan Goode) and Brick’s new lady love, Chani (Kristen Wiig, channeling the energy of her quirkier “SNL” characters).
While the cast additions are all game, “Anchorman 2” truly works best when the core four are doing what they were put on Earth to do: “Have salon quality hair and read the news.”
Thankfully, there are also a number of callbacks to the original movie, with both the jazz flute and Brian’s “Sex Panther” cologne making an appearance and Ron’s beloved pooch Baxter getting the chance to save the day once again.
That’s not to mention the film’s crowning achievement: a sequel to the iconic battle of the newscasters that features enough celebrity cameos to make your head explode.
“Anchorman 2,” which clocks in around two hours, drags a bit at times, particularly during a stretch where Ron leaves the life of a newsman behind and attempts to nurse a shark back to health (don’t ask), but the rapid-fire dialogue ensures that you’ll be chuckling again before you know it.
Whether it’s the sequel “Anchorman” fans have been clamoring for remains to be seen, but it’s important to remember that getting “Anchorman 2” at all is “kind of a big deal.”
“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” is in theaters on December 18. Rated R.
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