Every time I see Ron Burgundy, a.k.a.
That, I'd suggest, should be the recommended dosage.
At nearly two hours, the nonsense of Ron and the news game, which Ferrell and co-writer and director
But the reality that Ron Burgundy did indeed become a legend is part of the film's difficulty. Waiting nearly a decade before the sequel came allowed time for "Anchorman" to reach cult status — "stay classy" joined the lexicon of the knowingly sarcastic. So revered is the original, the film's legions of fans have likely watched it about as many times as I've seen those Dodge ads. Between the history and the hype, expectations are high for a Burgundy redux to deliver.
That presents its own set of challenges. A comedy sequel always carries the risk that the joke was stretched to the limits in the first. We did not, for example, need another slice of "American Pie," anymore than we needed a "Hangover 2" or "3," a clear case of overindulging.
While I'm glad "Anchorman" is back — we need a little levity in this year of heavy films — I do wish it were better. With so many sight gags and nearly every living comic in the world making an appearance at some point, the entire operation, like Ron's ego, feels a bit bloated.
Still, "Anchorman 2" has its distinct pleasures, chief among them its characters. And chief among its characters is
As the legend picks up, Ron and Veronica Corningstone (
A series of unfortunate events align to split up the couple — on air and off. It begins when she gets that prime-time spot and he does not — the good news/bad news delivered in a very funny cameo by
Besides, there had to be some excuse to send Ron on a downward spiral — wedded bliss and career satisfaction don't suit him. It also allows the filmmakers to reunite the anchorman with his former news team: correspondent Brian Fantana (
Like an incredibly slow windup, "Anchorman 2" spends a lot of time getting us caught up on their lives; basically some are better off than others. These segments struggle for traction and Ron's job as an emcee at SeaWorld has drawn sharp criticism from real-world animal rights activists who see absolutely nothing funny in the captivity of killer whales (see the documentary "Blackfish" for a very good recap of the issues).
Rescuing Ron from San Diego, and us from a dearth of the solid silly nonsense we expect from "Anchorman," is the very dry
With the plasticized all-news-all-the-time culture in the film's sights, the fun begins in earnest. Burgundy has a new nemesis in Jack Lime (
The competition to keep up ratings and newsroom infighting provides a good setup for many of the best jokes. The birth of the slow-speed car chase during Ron's watch is a hoot. The funniest gag involves Brick, but to say more would be to spoil the fun.
There are a few bizarre detours that seem contrived to allow the filmmakers to keep a gag they loved but couldn't quite figure out how to make it fit. One involves blindness and a lighthouse and is actually hilarious. But at times like this, it feels as if the concept has outrun the comedy and "Anchorman 2" stops making sense.
'Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues'
MPAA rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content, drug use, language and comic violence
Running time: 1 hour, 59 minutes
Playing: In general release