REVIEW: Anchorman 2

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Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is laughing at the gays, not with the gays, says Simon Mernagh, and it’s embarrassing.


Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues doesn’t need explaining. It’s a sequel to Anchorman. It’s 1980 and our hero, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) coaxes his merry band of newshound-misfits (yeehaw sportscaster Champ Kind (David Koechner), horny reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), and mentally-elsewhere weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell)), out of televisual exile for another round of wacky hijinks. Burgundy lands a gig at a revolutionary round-the-clock news channel, and a lively comedy of errors ensues.

All Anchorman 2 needed to do was repeat the gross-out buffoonery of the original. Simple, right? For the most part, it delivers – rapid-fire toilet humour, visual gags and bumbling slapstick guarantee roars of laughter in the aisles.

But too many of the jokes flow from shaky, objectionable sources. While Burgundy’s typical bewilderment at Champ’s implied homosexuality in the movie could have struck comedic gold, the intended humour is clearly about laughing at the gay. It’s like the movie is pointing and yelling: “Look at him, he’s gay! Isn’t that hilarious?” Narrowly dodging outright homophobia, it’s far from funny.

Still, the bad gay jokes have nothing on a massively uncomfortable scene in which Burgundy, face-to-face with his new boss (Meagan Good), is stricken by her skin colour. So much so, in fact, that he blurts out the word ‘black’ over and over again as if possessed by some racist spirit. This progresses to his screaming it at her face. Screenwriter, Adam McKay is pointing out how politically correct America is nowadays, compared to the ‘Neanderthal 80s’, but his jokes misfire, spectacularly. Actual racists should enjoy them, though.

While we’re on the subject, Good’s character is a walking contradiction. Just as the film seems to champion an autonomous female African-American company executive, she inconceivably throws herself at the clownish Burgundy. Between her, obtuse phone-operator Chani (Kristen Wiig), and Burgundy’s unfaithful wife Veronica (Christina Applegate), there’s a thesis on wayward gender politics lurking beneath the coarse humour.

Although these hiccups may appear mere as islands dotting a sea of boorish devil-may-care frivolity, they cheapen the already bargain-bucket quality of the humour on display. This could pass for a high-end Happy Madison production, but since the conveyor-belt sequence of jokes is underpinned by a story, threadbare as it is, Anchorman 2 holds the dubious honour of being ‘better’ than Adam Sandler’s latest barrage of stoopid, Grown-Ups 2.

Other than a spectacularly clunky cameo-stuffed crescendo and a stodgy dose of cloying sentimentality with Burgundy’s kid, no climax is built toward. There is no reward, no dramatic payoff. Nobody wants intricate writing or storytelling in an Anchorman sequel, granted, but this could be a hodgepodge of Saturday Night Live sketches for all the substance on display.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues joins Kick-Ass 2, The Hangover Part III, Red 2 and A Good Day to Die Hard on the list of 2013’s unwarranted sequels. I immediately regretted seeing this movie.


Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues opens nationwide today, December 18

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