The one moment I cherished above all others in 2004’s “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” was the newscaster rumble: a hand-to-hand fight between San Diego’s competing news teams.
It brought the movie’s scattered dopiness to a fine point.
Without giving away any celebrity cameos, let’s just say that the long-awaited sequel, “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” also builds to an epic news team throw-down. This one is also hilarious, and some of the new faces are amazing indeed.
The sequence even has a point: that in the world of the 24-hour news cycle, there’s way, way too much useless faux-news filling the air. In this big fight, there are so many competing teams you pretty much want them all to lose.
But to back up. Things are changing for boorish nitwit Ron Burgundy (of course played by co-screenwriter Will Ferrell): his marriage to Veronica (Christina Applegate) goes on the rocks and he loses his New York anchorman job. Redemption comes in an unlikely form.
Somebody’s hatching the idea of an all-news network (this is 1980, remember), and Ron would be just perfect for the 2 a.m. shift that nobody watches.
He assembles his old team, once again played by the spirited crew of Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and David Koechner.
They all have random comedy moments, and Carell’s barely brain-functioning weatherman gets a romance with a secretary (Kristen Wiig) at the new network.
Long sections are devoted to Ron’s anxiety about having a boss (Meagan Good) who is both female and black — an example of Ferrell and director Adam McKay pushing comedy past its limits even if it doesn’t seem to be clicking all that well, in the hopes that the pushing itself becomes the point.
There are some good non sequiturs, many of them barked out by Carell in his Tourette’s-like delivery. Some of the film’s sidetrips are admirable just for their sheer madness, including a sequence in which a Ron and his family adopt and nurture a shark.
And kudos to Ferrell &Co. for their subversive message about the inanity of so much TV news. Ron’s team scores its success by inventing a now-familiar formula of super patriotism, stories about cute animals, and live police-car chases.
Still, not quite a classic here — the movie’s too shaggy (and a little long) for that.
Something tells me we haven’t seen the last of Ron Burgundy, but he’d better hurry with the next sequel. When TV news is already self-parody, there may be nothing left to spoof.
“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” (2½ stars)
The nitwit newscaster (Will Ferrell) from 2004’s “Anchorman” returns, ready to help found the first all-news TV network. A subversive swipe at the inanity of the 24-hour news cycle is folded within the movie’s wacky comic set pieces, some of which work, some don’t. Much of the main cast returns, including Steve Carell and Paul Rudd.
Rated: PG-13 for language, subject matter.
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