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Anchorman 2 an exception to rule

Posted: December 25, 2013 - 7:19pm  |  Updated: December 26, 2013 - 9:45am

“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues”

Paramount Pictures

1 hour, 59 minutes

 

Too often the highly anticipated sequel falls into the trap of simply repeating the action of the first film in a slightly different setting. Take “Ghostbusters 2.” Not a particularly good movie, and a big part of the problem is that it’s not inventive in the least, especially not in light of its unique and iconic predecessor. Really successful sequels take the franchise off in a new direction, creating a richer and more layered story. Think “The Empire Strikes Back” or “The Dark Knight.” With this in mind, I have to say that this week’s “Anchorman 2” is an exception to the rule. Basically a rehash of the funniest bits from the first movie, the “Anchorman” sequel is really playing to its strengths. Maybe writer/director Adam McKay and writer/star Will Ferrell can be accused of playing it safe, but really, why not? People going to see this movie just want to see more Ron Burgundy. They don’t need to have their minds blown by crazy new plot - they just want to laugh. After all, Ron is kind of a big deal.

Picking up nearly a decade after the first film, “Anchorman 2” takes place in 1980, at the dawn of the twenty-four hour news channel and what was to become known as infotainment. Ron Burgundy, Will Ferrell slipping into the part as easily as a pair of old house shoes, and Veronica Corningstone, Christina Applegate as good as she ever was, are married and heading up the early evening slot on a national network news broadcast.

Ron’s on the top of the world until, without warning, everything falls apart. The next thing you know, he’s announcing the dolphin show at Seaworld while Veronica’s heading the nightly news desk and dating Greg Kinnear as a ponytailed psychiatrist who’s also a bit of a tool.

But, as you may remember from the first film, Ron’s life is series of crushing, humiliating defeats only to be followed by stratospheric redemptions. Before long, the new upstart cable network, GNN, is at his door, offering him a job and a wad of cash to start. Ron’s game, but he first must assemble his newsteam Brian Fantana, Champ Kind, and Brick Tamland, played by Paul Rudd, David Koechner, and Steve Carell, respectively. With his loyal compatriots at his side, Ron can’t lose, no matter how rocky the road may get.

I really enjoyed “Anchorman 2,” though I can’t say it’s quite as good as the original. That’s ok, because as I said before, this movie is a safe play. If you liked the first film, you’ll like this one too. Most of the jokes hit, but the few that don’t are forgotten as the next dozen come rolling over you.

Just about everyone from the first film is back, and there are quite a few new players as well. Kristen Wiig is probably my favorite of these, playing a sweet counterpoint to Brick.

I have to say I’ve been impressed with how careful and gentle McKay, Ferrell, and Carell are when portraying Brick, who is, to put it mildly, slow. Though Brick is often the center of the joke, never does the humor feel mean. Also carefully crafted is the character of Walter Burgundy, Ron’s seven-year-old son. The kid never gets too annoying and, despite his storyline is one of fatherly neglect, it never gets too sad or depressing.

Though not nearly as zany, the “Anchorman” movies remind me of the old “Airplane” series. The jokes were piled one on top of another such that it was impossible to get them all, necessitating repeated viewings. I doubt “Anchorman 2” will become a cult classic like the original did, but it was fun and it fits perfectly with the first movie. If you’re not planning on breaking any new ground, a movie like “Anchorman 2” can play it straight down the line and, hopefully, please the faithful one more time. Nothing wrong with that. Grade: B+

“Anchorman 2” is rated PG-13 for language and cartoonish violence.

 

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