Will Ferrell and Christina Applegate in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Will Ferrell and Christina Applegate in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Twenty minutes into Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, it feels -- as the first 20 minutes of the original did -- like you're just watching a lot of silly, ear-splitting yelling.

After a while though, you really can't help but laugh.

Anchorman 2 plays to the cheap seats, but it hits them most of the time. It's the movie's (well, I guess now "franchise's") acceptance of its own silliness -- and its indulgence in it -- that makes these characters eminently watchable. In no other mainstream comedy would we accept bottle-nursed sharks, shaggy-dog gags about cruise control, a blindness subplot, and the appearance of the ghost of Stonewall Jackson.

At the beginning of the sequel, esteemed anchorman Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) is happily married to his co-anchor Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) ... for all of five minutes. Their boss, played by Harrison Ford (get used to these celebrity cameos), promotes Veronica and fires Ron in one sentence, so Ron leaves her and is in the drunken dumps for a while until he's offered the graveyard shift at GNN, the first 24-hour news network.

He reunites with his old team, who are all mostly the same. Paul Rudd continues to exude the sleaziest of sleaze as Brian Fantana, and you don't need to worry about David Koechner milking his only good film role as the inappropriate, probably-closeted-homosexual Champ Kind.

Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) seems worse. Characters who exist solely to spew non-sequiturs exhibit diminishing returns the more they are on screen, and it feels like Brick got a little too much stupid screen time, especially in his scenes with his weird love interest doppelganger played by Kristin Wiig. It's like Michael Scott was playing a grating version of Brick, instead of Carell playing the best version of him.

Meagan Good (who deserves to be more famous than she is) kills it as Ron's "African and American" boss (as with the first movie with women, the race jokes come fast and furious, without any reservations), as does James Marsden as his workplace enemy.

The irony is that the character that got "serious" journalists all hot and bothered for his appearance at the ultra-sacred Emerson journalism school actually has something to say about the state of modern journalism. He scoffs at Veronica's interview with Yassir Arafat, joyfully choosing to cover a small-town car chase to compete with it. He does animal stories and espouses American jingoism. And as Burgundy starts to pander to the masses, ratings skyrocket.

It's not that subtle, but we shouldn't expect that from Anchorman 2.

Grade: B

Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, drug use, language and comic violence.

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