It’s got to be the hardest thing in the world to follow up a certified classic. Even more so when the sequel in question is a comedy.
The first Anchorman was a feat of pure magic. It brought together a raft of upcoming (at the time) movie comedians and let them play fast and loose with a script that afforded plenty of room for improvisation. All of this coupled with a wash of incredible wigs and moustaches meant the finished film garnered a cult following instantly, and has since become a pop culture mainstay.
The problem is that given the years in between, it feels like the writing team of McKay and Ferrell have perhaps listened too much to the opinions of others when putting Anchorman 2 together. They have surely seen the sheer amount of merchandise with “I love lamp” scrawled across it and they latched on to it.
What am I getting at? It’s that the script this time feels a little calculated. You can’t blame the filmmakers for wanting to recreate the genius of its predecessor, but that genius came from the spontaneity of the humour. No amount of forethought can ever account for letting comedy flow ‘by accident’ on a set.
Don’t get me wrong this film is still funny, in places it’s laugh out loud, gasp for breath hysterical. But these are moments, whereas the first Anchorman was, and still is, hilarious all the way through.
I have to confess to not being a fan of the Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) character in general. I like the randomness of his occasional conversation interjections, but I don’t like the shouting-for-the-sake-of-it side of the character. It’s a shame then that this makes up the majority of his screen time in Anchorman 2. I also found that Paul Rudd’s Brian Fantana was given less of the comedy this time around, which felt like a waste of such a strong character from the first film.
There’s also the horrible predictability of re-using jokes from Anchorman. Brian has a similar cabinet scene, there is a riff on the buying suits scene, Ron wrestles another large animal etc. Some people will love this recognisable comfort humour, but I just don’t see why comedians of this calibre need to rely on it when they are capable of creating all new iconic moments from scratch.
I realise that I’m coming off as being particularly harsh on the film. By comedy movie standards it is very very good. It’s just that I can’t help but compare it to what came before. There are some fantastic scenes, fantastic memorable lines and amazing cameos. Importantly there’s a lot more Will Ferrell doing what he does best; “having salon quality hair and reading the news”…..and being Ron Burgundy. In Burgundy, Ferrell has created a character for the ages. Mixing just the right amounts of pathos, ignorance and downright being an arsehole, Ron’s story is one that will always be the highlight of the films. Yes they are a news team, but as the title suggests, we are there to see the Anchorman.
Give it a go (as I’m sure you are already guaranteed to) but do me a favour and don’t go in expecting a film in the same league as its older brother.