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It's rare that a comedy sequel can succeed, even when it gives the audience more of the same. But Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is actually an enjoyable film, bringing back writer/star Will Ferrell, writer/director Adam McKay and the rest of the original Anchorman crew. Yes, Anchroman 2 fizzles a bit during the second half and misses an opportunity to be a classic scathing parody of the current broadcast TV landscape, but it still delivers the goods.
Anchorman 2 begins a few years after the original, as Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) and Victoria Corningstone (Christina Applegate) are now living in New York, working for WBS. When a legendary newsman (Harrison Ford) retires, he picks Victoria to replace him and fires Ron. Left devastated, Ron goes back to San Diego, where he hosts Sea World shows sponsored by British Petroleum. Thankfully, an opportunity arises: an upstart businessman has decided to begin a 24-hour news network in New York. Ron takes the job, and gathers up the rest of the Channel 4 News team. Champ Kind (David Koechner) is running a fried chicken joint – where they serve bats, or the chicken of caves (as they say). Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) is a cat photographer and Brick Tamblan (Steve Carell) is apparently dead, but that's just because he forgot he was alive.
Everyone's happy and excited to work again, but they get the 2 a.m. shift. When the ever-competitive Ron decides to bet the A-list anchorman (James Marsden) that they can beat their ratings, hope seems lost. But then, Ron comes up with a brilliant idea - “Instead of giving people the news they need, why not give them the news they want?”
That's great set-up for Anchorman 2's brilliant first hour. Ferrell and McKay appear to be right on track at creating a great indictment on the terrible situation in the media today, where entertainment comes before hard news. However, things go off the rails from that point on and the absurdity Ferrell is known for takes over. There's a list of things fans of the original Anchorman want to see again and that's what Ferrell and McKay are all too ready to do.
Obviously, Fantana's collection of designer condoms is meant as a be the next “Sex Panther.” The epic battle between rival news teams – which maddeningly gets in the way of the film's finale – is another attempt to outdo a classic scene from the first film. Sure, it's great to see people like Kanye West, Sacha Baron Cohen and the ghost of Stonewall Jackson (John C. Reilly) making appearances, but we just want to get to the end at this point.
Steve Carell must have asked for a bigger role, which likely explains the abundance of Brick scenes, which do slow the film down considerably. While the funeral scene is priceless, the bizarre subplot of him falling in love with Kristen Wiig – essentially reprising a Saturday Night Live role – takes the audience away from Ron's situation. After all, isn't Ron the title character here?
Overall, Anchorman 2 is exactly what you would expect if you're a fan of the first film. McKay and Farrell unfortunately forget about the plot midway through and just decide to thread together skits, which just makes it move slower than needed. One of the best aspects of Anchorman was its short running time, but the sequel is too long – even studio-made comedies can't get away with a running time under two hours any more. It's a shame because Anchorman 2 would have made a great 90-minute movie. There's some fantastic material here, but you have to slog through a love scene with a shark to get there.