I guess, because of where I was and what I must’ve been experiencing in 2004, I didn’t know Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy wasn’t considered a hit.

As I recall, a trailer for it played incessantly on a loop at the mall where I worked, and my friends talked it up while it was in theaters. Quotes ended up on T-shirts. There was a Ron Burgundy bobblehead. So I was surprised, over the last few years, to read about how it was an uphill battle with rights-holder Paramount to re-assemble the KWVN Channel 4 news team. Almost everything about Anchorman and its mustachioed hero had become pop culture staples, but the numbers weren’t a good fit, apparently.

I can understand the trepidation. The first Anchorman was strange elixir of time and timing, and the somewhat wretched companion movie Wake Up, Ron Burgundy proved it takes a lot of ambling clunkers to eventually end up with a comedy classic. Improvising away while the camera’s running – and getting your show business pals to chuckle – doesn’t necessarily mean it’s all going to fit together as an entertaining narrative (the best editors be damned), or be funny to a general, ticket-purchasing audience.

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With its glorious yacht rock soundtrack and goofy (inevitably quotable) catchphrases, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues succeeds in being consistently funny, yet too comfortably coasts on the goodwill generated by its first installment. Seemingly stitched together from the best lines its mind-numbingly talented cast could think of on the day, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues only suffers in that there’s no attempt to hide the seams.

Now married to Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) with a son, Ron (Will Ferrell) continues to let his hubris and ignorance get in the way of success. Offered a job at the world’s first 24-hour cable news network, he tracks down Champ Kind (David Koechner), Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) and Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), who each get their own wacky vignette. There’s more, of course, but trying to explain all the “plot” permutations – Brick finding romance with an office worker as… damaged as he is (Kristen Wiig, awesome as always), Ron’s rivalry with handsome newsreader Jack Lime (James Marsden), a second melee between parodies of various cable news teams (including mounting celebrity cameos), and a riff on Ice Castles – would be silly.

7.0

  • Consistently and comfortably funny
  • Entire cast is playful and game
  • Fun little ride
  • Paced to feel longer than it is
  • Doesn’t have much of an edge

Though it’s good at being funny – “funny for funny’s sake” is rarely a bad thing – Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues frustratingly forgets to plumb the depths of its setting. With a strong black woman (a surprisingly game Meagan Good) as the news team’s boss for example, Anchorman 2 isn’t as clever with race as its first installment was with gender, or with the possibilities of Ron and his boys living in a ridiculously neon version of the 1980s. Instead, they continue to inhabit an endless, quasi-alternate version of the 1970s called “1980”, while poking at corporate media “synergy” and the explosive growth (and absurdity) of the 24-hour news cycle in the 1990s into today. Throwing so much up at the screen, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues only hopes some of it sticks, and only some of it does.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, an Apatow Productions, Gary Sanchez Productions production distributed by Paramount Pictures, is 119 minutes long and rated PG-13.