Image: Paramount Pictures
When Will Ferrell first appeared on the American talk show Conan as Ron Burgundy playing his jazz flute and announced that the sequel to the 2004 cult-classic was going to happen, the internet exploded, fans looking forward to another endlessly quotable outing from the Adam McKay and Ferrell writing duo. Unfortunately, watching Anchorman 2 confronted me with the idea that maybe that’s all that the original was – quotable.
It may be almost blasphemous to admit, but after watching this film it seems that maybe the first one wasn’t quite as good as I’ve held it in my memory. Here, McKay (also director) and Ferrell employ the same technique as they did before, which is to write and shoot as much material as they can, and in the cutting room throw it together in a number of different ways and see what works best. It’s a technique that will result in a whole other film being released on DVD of material that they didn’t use in the cinema release, and makes the whole film feel like more of an extended sketch show. And it’s long. Very long. A good 40 minutes of material could have been cut down to make it more succinct, but as it is the film quite frequently drags, leaving you wanting it to just hurry up and get on with the next gag.
There are definitely laughs, but they are few and far between, and a disappointing number don’t land particularly well. Due to the popularity of Brick, Steve Carell’s characters screen time has been increased considerably and he even gets his own romantic sub-plot with equally slow female counterpart Chani, played by Kristen Wiig. It’s a wise decision, but Brian and Champ are noticeably sidelined as a result.
However, the film does throw in a nice nod to our obsession with news that’s not really news and the attention grabbing headlines we are now so used to, as well as quite a slick origin story for why news channels now cover live car chases. The cameos in one of the final scenes are also a highlight, throwing A-listers at the screen in much the same way as they throw jokes. Although Anchorman 2 is a disappointing outing there are some fun moments, but the sequel doesn’t feel like it’s immediately cemented its place as a cult-hit, at least not yet.