Starring: Will Ferrell, Christina Appelgate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, James Marsden, Meagan Good, Kristin Wiig, Dylan Baker, Josh Lawson, Judah Nelson, Harrison Ford, Greg Kinnear, Vince Vaughn, June Diane Raphael, Sacha Baron Cohen, Tina Fey, Kanye West, Fred Willard, Kirsten Dunst, Marion Cotillard, Jim Carrey, Drake, John C. Reilly, Liam Neeson, Amy Poehler, Will Smith
Directed By: Adam McKay
The first Anchorman is not my favorite Will Ferrell vehicle. I thought it was uneven, and the sequel ends up following in the footsteps. The first act is significantly better than the second act. More of the jokes connect. The second act, which I say starts when Ron (Ferrell) is “blinded”, drags on, and gets progressively less funny as it nears the end. There’s a bit of a pickup at the battle sequence, but that’s only because they got so many cameos, some really interesting ones, that it is impossible to not enjoy it.
Ron Burgundy’s career is struck a huge blow when his wife Veronica (Appelgate) gets an anchor spot over him, and he ends up being fired by his idol (Ford). He’s not supportive of her, and they split up. Veronica gets primary custody of their child, Walter (Nelson). After trying to do other jobs, Ron is recruited for a spot on the first 24 hour news channel. So, he recruits his old team, Brick (Carell), Champ (Koechner), and Brian (Rudd) for the gig, and they’re off to do what they were born to do.
Ron’s world is thrown into chaos when he realizes the network is run by a black female producer (Good). He doesn’t know what to do with that. Nor does he know how to handle his main competition, Jack Lime (Marsden), the anchor who got the “primetime” slot. He’s also baffled by his ex’s new boyfriend, a psychologist (Kinnear) that Ron believes can read his mind. Ron finally figures out that people don’t want to hear the news, they just want to be told how awesome America is, and Ron becomes a ratings phenomenon. He starts covering news chases and cute puppies and ratings soar. Until… the blindness. Then the movie becomes about self discovery and being a good father. And also about not really being funny.
Kudos to McKay and Ferrell for introducing some new blood into the series. Chani (Wiig) is great, and a perfect fit for Brick. Carell himself, as Brick, gets a ton of laughs. He steals the movie, for the most part. Him and the barrage of cameos. It’s hard to pick a favorite cameo. Will Smith was hilarious as a sportscaster, Jim Carrey and Marion Cotillard worked surprisingly well together, and John C. Reilly as the Ghost Of Stonewall Jackson provided Will Ferrell with some much needed material late in the game. It should also be noted that James Marsden can be funny given the right material.
But the movie drags in the second half. It loses focus, and instead of being a parody of what news has become, it shifts into a movie about being a good father. A father to a child actor who is one of the most annoying child actors in years. This kid has no depth, or understanding of comic timing. This was a casting mishap. Everytime he’s on screen makes you want to bang your head against a wall.
So, an uneven sequel to an uneven film. I suppose that was appropriate. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the first half. If you could bottle it up, and cut out most of the second act (I’d keep the battle scene… somehow), then the film would be much better. It also goes in the completely wrong direction for the end of the film. It could have been better. McKay and Ferrell were almost onto something, then they backed off.
FINAL GRADE: B-