A person has to dig pretty deeply in the history of comedies to find an instance where the sequel is as good as the original, not terrible, or even watchable.
Considering more recent attempts to continue a comedy franchise have not been good. Think how much of a photocopy The Hangover Part II was compared to the fantastic original. It was impossible to even eke out a laugh there, because we had actually seen each of the gags before. How about something a little more distant, like Ace Ventura 2? It should make us pretty worried about how the sequel to Dumb & Dumber is going to end up. Probably not good, despite how much we may still love the original for its amazing stupidity and fun.
Which brings us to Anchorman 2. There is more to the title, something about the legend continuing, but who really cares. This film is absolutely terrible. The first version of the story of Ron Burgundy became a bit of a cult-classic, a highly quotable film with some humour that was not completely run-of-the-mill. It was not a purely slapstick film, but made its fame on its weirdness, which made it so great.
Cut to the second installment. There is an impressive array of repeated jokes from the first one, so if you feel like hearing/seeing them again, but with ageing actors performing them, here you go. Need another round of jazz flute? Check. Maybe some more (now more purposefully attempted to be random) “catchphrases” from Burgundy? There is an endless supply, like they just threw them in there wherever there was the slightest pause in the dialogue. Maybe you didn’t think Brick was odd enough, and thought his adorable quirkiness from the first film needed to be blown up into full-on psychosis, to the point where he isn’t funny, but just a sad attempt to get laughs? Definitely check on that one. Ron Burgundy warming up before going on air? Yup. Making mistakes on air? Of course.
Even the greatest scene from the original, the battle between the networks and their news teams, had to be perfectly recreated. Sure, it gives us a chance to see a ton of cameos, with the likes of Will Smith, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Liam Neeson, Jim Carey, Marion Cotillard (seriously? She is a tremendous actress, what was she doing here?), John C. Reilly, and others showing up. But by that point, we just don’t care anymore. We have seen the fight before, and it was funny, and original, and ridiculous. In Anchorman 2, it was lame, over-wrought, and worthless to the plot.
I have long said that Will Ferrell should not get to star in his movies. He was always much better, and far funnier, in small, secondary roles. Let Vince Vaughn run a movie, and have Ferrell as the best friend or something. That works. His lines are funny when you hear a few of them per film. But here, he is unleashed, and it is truly terrible. By the end of the film, his acting becomes increasingly putrid, and we even grow to despise the famous Ron Burgundy voice. In this film, he is definitely more of a lead actor, whereas in the first one, there was definitely more time taken up by the secondary characters. They are cheated a little bit here, as the focus is more on Ron, and the consistent over-acting of Ferrell. Yes, I realize that this is a comedy role, and a silly one at that, and that I shouldn’t critique the acting, but seriously…watch it. He is bad. And annoying.
The only slightly redeeming part of this film, and something they completely underused, was Paul Rudd. I like that guy. He makes me laugh. But he only had a few lines. And they were the only ones that could even elicit a snicker from me while watching it. The rest, was pretty much garbage.
Oh, I forgot to mention the pretty racist stuff that goes on as well. Sure, Burgundy’s womanizing ways of the first film were funny, but in this one, where his new boss is a black woman, it gets pretty uncomfortable with the racism. Not funny uncomfortable, just odd, misplaced, and in poor taste.
It is not a mistake that I haven’t mentioned the plot of this film. Simply put, it is abjectly terrible. I get the idea of the new news network, and the changing of the media at the time. Okay, go with it. Maybe they could have something intelligent to say, a running commentary below the surface…no. Ron needs to go blind instead. And raise a shark as a pet. And sing a silly song. All of this happens.
I don’t normally hate movies. I either love them, like them, or am indifferent to them. But I really hated Anchorman 2. The fact that it is nearly two hours long, and that I watched all two hours of it, makes me angry.
We, as fans of the first film, shouldn’t have expected anything from this movie. It was, after all, a sequel to a comedy, which never works out well. But the complete disregard they put into the making of the film comes across as a money grab, which makes me feel bad about making the first one such a hit.
Anchorman 2 is garbage. Even though it is now on Netflix, and free, I’d still skip it. Keep quoting the first one, because there is nothing of value here in the second.