Ron Burgundy tries to hang himself in the first 15 minutes of “Anchorman 2”—and for a second, even this Anchorman fan thought that might not be a terrible idea. It's been nine years since the brilliant “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” began its long journey toward becoming a cult classic, and expectations for a sequel have loomed steadily higher. And after all of Will Ferrell's wearying promotional stunts for “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” it is easy to suspect Ron Burgundy might fail to live up to his own hype. Whether you think “Anchorman 2” justifies all the buildup will depend on your affection for the absurdist, screw-it surrealism of the first “Anchorman.” Me, I sat there smiling like a goddamn idiot and clapping like a goddamn seal.
Spoiler: “Anchorman 2” doesn't end 15 minutes in with Ron hanging himself. Instead, the newscaster travels from his beloved San Diago to hectic New York City. It's 1980, the Global News Network is starting the first 24-hour cable news station, and Ron and his dumb buddies—Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, and David Koechner—are GNN anchors. It takes Ron about two seconds to figure out that in order to maintain a 24-hour news cycle, he’s going to have to report stuff that isn’t news. And, when that fails, just make shit up.
“Anchorman 2” gets in a few jabs at the worthlessness of cable news and the dangers of corporate news sources, but the fact it's put out by Paramount Pictures—a subsidiary of massive media conglomerate Viacom—dulls its satirical edge. The movie's better when it channels the first film's hit-or-miss randomness. Combined with the fact Ferrell, Rudd, Carell, and Koechner exhibit exactly zero shame, the resulting mess—a lot of stuff happens! most of it doesn't make sense! there's a beautiful montage set to Neil Diamond's "Shilo"!—is consistently and wheeze-inducingly hilarious. (Also worth noting: “Anchorman” newcomer Kristen Wiig kills it with a dead-on Miranda July impression.) By the time “Anchorman 2” climaxes, the whole thing's turned into a clusterfuck of joyous stupidly. I ruin very little of it by telling you that the best parts involve a minotaur, a baby shark, and the ghost of Stonewall Jackson.
dir. Adam McKay