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Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)

December 20, 2013

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That moment when you go to a movie and witness how excited everyone is for it: running to the theater to get to their seats in time, barely able to contain their excited speculation of the greatness that is forthcoming, clapping at the production company’s logo on screen mere seconds before the film starts—yet, you realize you’re the only one mildly excited in comparison, that moment makes an entire film watching experience a tad bit on the awkward side. Was I excited for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, the long anticipated sequel to Anchorman? Hell yes! I had considered myself a pretty avid fan of the original. I’ve quoted the lines of Brian Fantana, Champ Kind, Brick Tamland and Ron Burgundy in normal conversation more times than any other film in my life. I often times describe a rancid smell as on par with Bigfoot’s dick. Knowing that Anchorman 2: The Ledged Continues was filmed in Atlanta, my current place of residence, only heightened my anticipation. But, as I sat there in the theater on the night of the advanced screening amidst excited frat kids, I knew that I was slightly out of element and watching Anchorman only proved that to me.

Anchorman 2: The Ledged Continues is hilarious. I’m not denying that fact. It’s not as funny as the first, but that’s neither a celebratory nor derogatory statement, just the facts. Nevertheless, the reason is because Anchorman was a landmark in the absurdist comedy genre. It was the first of its kind and thus pushed a new age of comedy into the forefront of America. Anchorman 2 comes out almost a decade after the original and in that time span a slew of films and television shows have risen in similar absurd fashion steadily taking that brand of humor one step further and funnier. Also within the sequel’s absence, Judd Apatow has made this brand of comedy an auteuristic staple in his repertoire, resulting in Anchorman 2 coming off a bit stale as most of the elements seem to have been done before with fresher results.

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For instance, I just recently finished Adam McKay’s brilliantly produced HBO series, Eastbound and Down. Similar to Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Eastbound and Down follows the antics of a narcissistic, yet somehow lovable asshole reaching the pinnacle of his career only to have to deal with inevitable backlash and near failure that comes with it. Anchorman 2’s plot isn’t only similar to Eastbound, it’s also basically the same as the original Anchorman. This time though, Ron (Will Ferrell) must conquer the world of 24-hours news and learns to change the game of reporting by sensationalizing stories for entertainment. As Ron poignantly puts it, “why tell people what they need to know when we can tell them what they want to know?” This time, Ron finds himself on the heels of stardom in 24-hour news programming and perhaps the most uncomfortable aspect of them all—for me at least, a new relationship with the network’s boss, Linda Jackson.

Meagan Good has continually disappointed me as an actress throughout the years as her acting skills have been tossed aside just so she can play up the oversexed vixen in her most recent roles. Whether these roles are her fault or not, Good’s role as the object of sexual attraction is irritating. Linda is supposedly an intelligent black woman at the head of a major news corporation in 1979, an undeniably brilliant aspect to strong black women like myself. Yet, her character’s intelligence quickly dissolves as she falls into the stereotypical role of a gold digger after falling for Ron only because of his ascendance to the top. It makes virtually no sense why Linda would invite Ron to a family dinner then get angry at his decision to speak jive and stereotype her family to their faces, especially considering when he first meets her the only words he can repeatedly muster is “black.”

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Watching scenes between Meagan Good and Will Ferrell in a theater full of white people hanging on to every racially charged, sexist word that spewed from Ron Burgundy’s mouth was uncomfortable at times. Trust me, I get it; it’s the 1970s and Ron Burgundy is a sexist, slight racist, and overall prick, but we’re supposed to laugh at him because of it…although the problem quickly becomes audiences instead laughing with him and quoting his ignorance. On the bright side it’s not just Linda or Ron who suffers from non-existent character development. It’s virtually every major character with the exception of Paul Rudd and David Koechner who are responsible for the character growth and best lines from Brian and Champ respectively. Unfortunately, both character are second fiddle to Steve Carell’s obnoxiously dumb Brick and his unnecessary love story with Chani (Kristen Wiig).

Neither the players nor the game have changed for Ron and crew, revealing just how formulaic and conventional Anchorman 2 ultimately is. There’s nothing singular about it this time around, a Catch 22 in simplest form. On one hand, McKay and company follow the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” motto which is the reason that if you loved the first one, you won’t be too disappointed by the sequel. But there’s a few of us weirdo’s out there that simply just expect more from a film, sequel or not, and for those you who do, you’ll be a bit let down. We follow the same characters, the same general plot, the same failures and same epiphanies as before, even the same fight sequences. One could argue that’s usually how sequels work, but likewise that’s the same reason those squeals that follow the same outline as its predecessors usually aren’t superior to the original.

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Anchorman 2’s humor is best described by Slate’s Magazine’s analogy of throwing spaghetti at a wall. The jokes that stick are really funny, but the rest of it kind of falls flat into a gooey mess. Nonetheless, I enjoyed Anchorman 2, especially it’s biting commentary on the failure of news broadcasting. However, I can’t deny the fact that about an hour into the film I was constantly scrutinizing the time for it to be over. If you’ve been waiting on pins and needs for the sequel since the original, then you’ll undoubtedly double over in laughter numerous times while watching the Anchorman 2. But, some of you who enjoyed the first one but hoped the sequel would go above and beyond the brazenness of the original will have to prepare for a blow of disappointment. I’m more curious as to how its humor will play out during future, repetitive watches.

SEE IT. But with caution, it pales in comparison to the original.

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