This just in: Anchorman 2 is not only a great film but an amazing standalone movie. Given that the movie reunited both the cast and crew of the original it is no surprise the movie is good, but it is far better than it has any right to be.
Both director Adam McKay and co-writer Will Ferrell have clearly done their homework as the new film sends legendary newscaster Ron Burgundy and his team into the early 1980s. The transition works surprisingly well as the team, despite starting out as 1970s stereotypes in the first film, has easily evolved into the new decade.
It is the nature of a well-loved sequel that the writers will have to pay some level of fan service to the original film but far too often a sequel can turn into the same movie. While there are some moments that play into the original for the most part the movie wastes no time in developing the future of each of its characters. When the movie does decide to do fan service, like in the obligatory newscaster brawl, the results are far crazier and more inventive than anyone saw coming. Indeed, the final 15 minutes of the film would make even Monty Python proud.
The main plot involves a recently unemployed Burgundy who is approached by a producer for GNN, the world’s first 24-hour news station. Though the idea is normal to us, thirty years ago it would have seemed preposterous and it is treated as such. So Burgundy takes a chance and gets the old news team back together as they venture into national news.
What follows could have easily been a formulaic retelling of the first movie but instead both McKay and Ferrell decide to use the movie as an opportunity to tear apart modern news media. Burgundy’s total lack of journalistic ethics leads to some truly revolutionary ideas that are now common place in the world of news. The concept is utter genius and while the script sometimes lacks subtlety its ability to tell a compelling story through some truly genius comedy moments lifts the film far above not just the original but almost every comedy out there today.
Like the first one there is a lot going on in the dialogue so it is well worth re-watching. Anchorman 2 is one of the few films that aims for both immediate and delayed laughs. Paul Rudd makes a throw-away joke about O.J. Simpson and Phil Spector that was truly brilliant but given the average age of the audience not everyone is going to get it. Like Ron Burgundy, Anchorman 2 is one of those rare films that will only get better with age.