The comedy sequel that attains the same level of laughter as its debut is a rare species. After all, great comedy comes unexpectedly.This is what made the original Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy a classic. Filmed on a resourceful budget, it's largely improvised and wildly unpredictable gags grew increasingly more absurd as the story progressed, delivering a narrative fitting for a cartoon show. (There were so many extemporaneous outtakes and subtracted subplots, in fact, that a second, full-length feature, Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie, was strung together off the cutting room floor for inclusion with its DVD release). The picture's unanticipated blockbuster success launched the film careers for many involved in the project, and gave us some of the most quotable movie moments of the past decade.
Sadly, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues abandons the DIY-comedic delivery of the original and falls into the classic sequel trap of trying to be bigger and more polished than the original. The film's funniest moments come when the former Channel 4 News team, now on a 24-hour news station called GNN, are together on air. Unfortunately, this makes up less than 15 minutes of its two-hours-too-long-plus-some running time. The story has far too many pointless subplots, recycles too many old jokes, and tosses in too many new characters while neglecting pretty much every returning veteran sans Ron (Will Ferrell). It all just feels stiff, contrived, and…well, scripted.
Is Anchorman 2 terrible? No. However, fans who have waited ten years for a follow-up expect more than just an OK outing. Anchorman 2 feels a lot like another classic comedy sequel, Ghostbusters 2 - not nearly as entertaining as the first, but damn, it's still good to see the cast together on screen again. Maybe another Frankenstein-film assembled from severed footage and included with the Blu-Ray edition of Anchorman 2 will serve up some of the playful energy and creative risk that took the bench this first round of editing.
If you want to see a hilarious - and, be warned, extremely explicit - character-based comedy, stay in and check out this past summer's This Is The End On Demand.