If I had to come up with a tagline for the big movies of 2013, say for some hypothetical snarky aside in a review, it’d be “Not As Good As The First One.” Kick-Ass 2, Catching Fire, The Hangover Part III, Man of Steel, Star Trek: Into Darkness: all grabbed the proverbial oil-soaked rags and lighter to see whose franchise goodwill could burn fastest. The only two that outstripped their predecessors were The Hobbit and Thor, and neither one of those exactly had a high bar to jump.
So it’s with greatest pride and deepest pleasure that I can announce Anchorman 2 at least comes close to validating its own existence. Yay! Break out the confetti, kids!
The plot goes thus: after the events of the first movie, anchorman and professional mustache-holder Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) is fired from his job for being a bit crap. Luckily, in the throes of wacky depression he’s invited to become the face of a new 24-hour news channel. He gathers up his old team -weather man Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), man on the street Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and sports guy Champ Kind (David Koechner) – and they head out to Most Definitely Not CNN to take 1970s America by storm. Jazz flute, race jokes and shark-bottle-feeding ensue.
Ron Burgundy’s funniest when even the sanest people in the world around him are only about a step or two away, and as you can tell the movie fails to disappoint. This one takes the silliness of the first movie and runs with it like a relay baton filled with bear pheromones, chiefly by giving Brick an entire subplot this time around. Sticking your quotable buffoon at the forefront can just make the character stop being funny (remember Alan from the aforementioned Hangover III, then remember to take the gun out of your mouth) but in this case, Carell pulls it off.
Of course, a few jokes get repeated from the first movie on the way: the most egregious example being the news team fight. This time there’s a raygun and a minotaur and a surprising amount of celebrity cameos, but it loses something through familiarity.
The franchise also takes its first wobbly steps into satire this time, between the bits with Will Ferrell screaming at people: Ron climbs the ladder of journalistic success by providing the public “with what they want to hear, not what they need to hear”, and his boss can only be described as Rupert Murdoch’s soul bound into Richard Branson’s body.
Ultimately, this is an Anchorman movie, and that means exactly what you think it means. It’s still quotable, and while it doesn’t quite reach the standards of the first movie it at least rubs its fingertips against them a bit. If you liked the first one, it’s worth going to watch … unless you already have by now. Then … I dunno, go see The Wolf of Wall Street or something.