Audiences have every right to be trepidatious about Will Farrell returning to his greatest comic creation, Ron Burgundy. The first Anchorman film has become one of the most fondly remembered comedies of the last ten years, but typically comedy sequels never really match their predecessor. Despite the great affection the public has for his unlikely masterpiece; Farrell and writer/director Adam McKay were facing an uphill struggle with this long-awaited sequel.
However, such fears can be put to rest. Anchorman 2 is a more than worthy follow-up to its original. All the central cast have thankfully returned and it’s a genuine joy to see the news team bouncing off each other again with such inspired and warped genius. The catalyst for this reunion is Burgundy’s fall from grace following his dismissal from national news and separation from his wife Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate). Offered an anchor job on a new 24 hour news channel called GNN, Burgundy decides to team up once again with Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), Champ Kind (David Koechner) and of course, Brick Tamland (Steve Carrell) and stage the mother of all comebacks.
Happily, the film itself is also a generally triumphant return. Ferrell and McKay haven’t quite captured the sense of anarchy and lunacy that made the first film such a knockout, but the ensemble are still on top, if in a more structured form. Ferrell and co have added many more classic scenes and quotes to their already substantial volumes of comic genius, amongst the most memorable being Fantana’s “legendary jimmy cabinet” and Champ Kind’s not so subtle attraction to Ron. Perhaps the most enjoyable and laugh out loud scenes are those between Brick and his equally intellectually challenged love interest Chani (Kristen Wiig), which perfectly balance sweetness and hilarity. Credit most also go to Ferrell and McKay for refusing to rehash the previous films material, unlike almost every other comedy sequel, aside from a few well placed nods and references.
Unfortunately, the film does lag at points, particularly a drawn out section based around Ron’s exile in a remote lighthouse (don’t ask) and at two hours, the film is definitely longer than it needs to be. By the films third quarter you begin to wonder if your enjoyment of the films beginning was merely powered by nostalgia and the relief of seeing such familiar faces. However things pick up sharply in time for the films climax, where the film creates such a bizarre litany of insanity and excellent/baffling cameos, one cant help but fall into hysterics. Whether or not this makes up for the films mid-point slowness depends really on how funny you find Minotaurs (again, don’t ask).
Anchorman 2 may not match the lightning in a bottle brilliance of the first film, but its unlikely you will have laughed as much in a cinema all year.