December 17, 2013


Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is a comedy classic.  It’s infinitely quotable, gets better with every viewing, and had the staying power to go from being a moderate summer hit to a film where a growling legion of fans were constantly demanding a sequel.  Sadly, these cases usually end with a “Be careful what you wish for.” But Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is “Sometimes, dreams do come true.”  Burdened with almost a decade of expectations compounded by an unrelenting marketing campaign, not to mention the fact that comedy sequels are almost always inferior to the original, Adam McKay‘s film was inevitably at a disadvantage despite fans begging for its existence.  The compromise is a shaggy beast of a sequel that maintains the silly and strange soul of the original.  Even with its glaring flaws, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues still manages to be 2013′s funniest film.

Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and his wife/co-anchor Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) have gone from their humble San Diego origins and are now working a newsdesk in New York City in 1980.  When revered anchor Mack Harken (Harrison Ford) decides to retire, he hands over the coveted nightly news desk to Veronica and summarily fires Ron, who he declares to be “the worst newsman I have ever seen”.  Despondent, Ron’s life falls apart, but he’s given a second chance when he’s invited to work at the world’s first 24-hour news network.  Reassembling his Channel 4 news team—Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), Champ Kind (David Koechner), and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell)—Ron and his pals discover that their incompetence, narcissism, and shallowness is perfect for the vapid format of 24-hour news.


It’s important to remember that when Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy came out, its stars and attitude hadn’t become ubiquitous.  Judd Apatow (who produced Anchorman) and Steve Carell‘s breakthrough hit, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, was over a year away, and Will Ferrell‘s film hits—Old School and Elf—were good, but nothing that pushed the envelope.  A lot has changed in nine years, but Anchorman 2 feels like a homecoming.  Ferrell and his co-stars slip back into their old roles almost effortlessly.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve watched The Legend of Ron Burgundy so consistently over the years that it feels like these characters never really left.  The Legend Continues simply allows me to see them in new situations, and watch them absolutely kill at everything they do.

There’s no recapturing lightning in a bottle, so Anchorman 2 does what a good sequel should: cement an identity in order to create a deeper connection with the original.  That may seem like a nice way of saying “It’s more of the same,” but that’s almost always what a sequel is, and that’s why they’re usually a losing proposition.  If Anchorman 2 sticks to what works, then it’s seen as playing it too safe, and if it’s radically different than the first movie, then it’s disrespecting the fans.  When I say, “establishes an identity”, it means that Anchorman 2 maintains the tone and style of the first film without relying too heavily on old jokes.  The film keeps fan service to a minimum, but the fan service still undermines the movie’s greatest asset: unpredictability.


These scenes are still good and are bound to get cheers, but like most fan-service, it comes off as obligatory.  It’s an unnecessary “Thank You” note to the fans when the film itself is already gratitude for the people who championed a sequel.  The fan-service still gets laughs, and even though the film goes on longer than it needs to, Anchorman 2 really only gets out of hand when it indulges Brick.

Brick is the one blaring, false note in the movie where it seems like McKay and Ferrell played to the character’s popularity rather than his function.  Carell is a bonafide movie star now, but Brick worked better in small doses.  Furthermore, while Brick is still far beyond the “mentally retarded” diagnosis he’ll receive from future doctors, he’s much more hyperactive.  This is “LOUD NOISES!” Brick, and sometimes it feels like Carell is trying to muscle his way into scenes rather than sit back and steal them with a well-timed joke.  There’s also a romance subplot between Brick and a dim-witted secretary (Kristen Wiig) that falls flat, which is surprising when you consider the actors’ immense talent.  Thankfully, the movie never completely loses the Brick we loved from the first movie, and he can still drop in a quick line that absolutely slays the audience.


Anchorman 2 is clearly flawed, but here’s the thing: I don’t care.  I can’t deny the film’s faults, but I also can’t deny how hard I was laughing throughout the movie.  I laughed more in the first thirty minutes than I laughed at any other comedy this year.  I laughed so hard I think I lost some weight by the time the credits rolled (and yes, there’s something after the credits).  I went in feeling a mix of anticipation and dread because of my high expectations and fear of disappointment; I left with my sides hurting from laughing so much.  I won’t spoil any of the jokes here other than to say that if you liked the first movie, you’ll like this one.  The comic sensibilities are the same, and other than piling on more Brick, the movie still has the same basic form of a reasonable plot supported by wonderfully weird, mind-bogglingly ludicrous comedy.

There will be arguments about which film is better: Anchorman or Anchorman 2, and declaring a victor is pointless because they’re both hilarious.  The question isn’t which film is “better”.  The question is which film will have staying power, and I can’t answer that because I’ve only seen Anchorman 2 once.  Although both movies thrive on the outlandish unpredictability, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy has thrived because of its durability.  We all know that milk was a bad choice, diversity is an old, wooden ship, and you have to keep your head on a swivel when you’re in a vicious cockfight.  I don’t know if Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues will be as quotable or even as funny on a second viewing.  But I can’t wait to find out.

Rating: A-


Around The Web
  • JBug

    Thanks for the solid review Matt.

  • Kota Lancaster

    Hey, now I’m excited to see this!

    • Daniel Ronczkowski

      And you weren’t before? Shame..

      • Kota Lancaster

        I fucking loved the original, I still do. The first trailer was hilarious, but the second trailer and TV spots honestly weren’t doing it for me. This has me more excited.

  • Wilhelmet

    Matt? Is that you?

  • teggler

    Yes! Yesss!!! YESSSSS!!!!!!!!!!

  • claire

    I freakin’ can’t wait to see it!!

  • Mike Smith

    I have a massive erection.

  • Jack le Critic

    A- ? So basically, the film of the year? That’ll do me :)

  • TigerFIST

    It was great!

  • Lovecraftlives

    Oh please , shut up! This is the End was the funniest film this year. And that last Miyazaki film, The Wind Rises was good, too!

    • randommale7

      I think you mean ‘The World’s End’… ;)

      • Sweet Pea

        The Worlds End wasn’t funny, and not even close to being in the same league as This Is The End…

      • Grayden

        This Is The End was not funny. It was loud and obnoxious. World’s End was infinitely funnier.

    • partysub

      where did that last point come from?

      • Lovecraftlives

        He reviewed The Wind Rises and gave it an F! That movie was good, and he claimed to be a Miyazaki fan.

  • Woopshaw!

    Fuck you, Goldberg!

  • The Flobbit

    This shit gets A minus when not even Gravity or Catching Fire did? As a fellow who adores the first film enough to catch an advance screening, it pains me to say that this sequel is bloated, uneven, and rather disappointing. Yes, there are funny parts (mostly courtesy of Brick Tamland), but on the whole this is really not worth the 8-11 dollars to see.

    • Nick

      You realize films get reviewed relative to their genre?

      • The Flobbit

        Yes, but this is in no way a comedy classic.

      • Oolie zool

        and your opinion means everything right?

      • The Flobbit

        Does it? Is this one man’s opinion? I think not.

    • Fiz

      You’re right, Gravity didn’t get an A-. It got an A.

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  • Nooch007

    Loved Anchorman 2….I thought it was actually funnier than the first film. There are some repeat gags, but the are adjusted in a way that doesn’t make it feel like the same bit. Comedy sequels are usually duds, but this one is was very good. Also, a lot of what is in the trailers, isn’t used in the film, which I think is smart. I think if you liked the first one, you will love this one.

    • The Flobbit

      I actually found it rather devoid of any heart and charm (and the first film is still the funniest film in years), but hey, whatever turns you on! I recommend seeing Desolation of Smaug or Frozen, but that’s just me.

      • Sweet Pea

        I completely agree, that is just you. Any adult male who goes and sees Frozen over Anchorman 2 needs their balls reattached.

      • The Flobbit

        Then go see Catching Fire – at least that aimed for greater themes, or Desolation of Smaug, for a spectacle filled fantasy adventure, or American Hustle for some adult entertainment.

      • Sweet Pea

        With suggestions like that you’re about as useful as a chocolate teapot. I think I will stick with my original plan of seeing Anchorman 2 thanks, with the majority of cinema going adults this weekend. I’ll leave it to you to go and see ‘better’ films and be smug about you’re thirst for “greater themes” in your cinema experiences. Dork.

      • The Flobbit

        Idiot. Go waste your 8 dollars or whatever.

      • Sweet Pea

        Waste.. $8..?! Hahaha. I pay with a $50 bill for all my theatre tickets and tell them to keep the change and if they refuse I throw it down the nearest drain, or in a puddle if it’s raining.

      • The Flobbit

        Who the eff cares?

      • Sweet Pea

        If you want to say fuck to enhance your point, just say fuck. Saying “the eff” makes you look silly.

      • The Flobbit

        I have principles. You don’t, you turd. Like that better?

      • Sweet Pea

        LOL! What are these principles? They sounds hilarious already. So they allow you to call me a piece of shit, but not say the rude version of the actual word? Oh yes, very moral of you, you effing poohead.

      • Sweet Pea

        I actually owe you an apology, i can admit when I’m wrong. This is no joke or slick comment either. Anchorman 2 is terrible, I LOVE Anchorman and within 20mins knew this sequel was gonna be bad. I felt like Champ was the only one who nailed his character, the rest were playing charicatures of their characters from the original. Gets an F from me.

      • The Flobbit

        Well, then let’s shake hands and go back to watching our old copies of Anchorman – the one movie that never lets down!

  • grapes9h5

    Totally second this review having just seen it. i think I found it a bit less funny than you Matt overall (the same probably goes for the original though), so not quite an A- even for me. DANG IT though, I didnt think there was a post-credit scene. At least I know now to stick around on my next viewing.

    P.S. No way in my book is this film funnier than This Is The End.

    • Fiz

      The post-credit scene isn’t anything too exciting, so you didn’t miss much. Agreed with you on the film. I love Will Ferrell’s humor, but I’ve always found Anchorman to be slightly overrated–quotable, sure, but not as consistently funny and entertaining as one would expect given the hype–and this one was definitely not worthy of an A-. “This is the End” was much funnier.

  • Santoemojack

    So it’s clear now that Mr. Goldberg is not by any means what we could call a Movie Critic, or professional movie reviewer, one who has an ability to go beyond their own personal tastes and critique a film in an objective way, of course through ier own eyes and with their own likes and dislikes, etc. His grading system is comical. This movie gets an A-, but that has everything to do with his history with the first movie than the quality of the film he is being paid to review, for us.

    • The Flobbit

      We’ve known that since this site began. It’s real sad.

    • Grayden

      He gets paid because the site generates traffic because you keep coming back to read his reviews you hate so much. You aren’t paying him and don’t have to read the reviews if you know you’re going to hate it.

    • J Wilson

      Objectivity is a nonsense standard.
      Those heralded as the pinnacles of objectivity in the last 100 years – Murrow, Cronkite…or, more aptly, Ebert – were anything but.
      Personally, I have no idea why you would even seek out an objective movie review…what would that gain you, versus finding a reviewer you generally agree with whose tastes you share?
      From Citizen Kane to Anchorman, these are works of art in a medium I love -and they should be judged both viscerally and subjectively…
      Like a movie – or don’t.
      Have a thousand educated reasons – or nothing but a gut feeling.
      Either way, the ultimate opinion is the only one that matters – yours.
      If you disagree with Matt Goldberg fine, but ask yourself why you even seek out his counsel? I refuse to believe you are so starved for the guidance, or so desperate to needlessly complain.
      Finally, let me know how the search goes for the immaculate, wholly objective CRITIC. I suspect you’ll find them next to the Tooth Fairy as she drinks from the Holy Grail.

    • Oolie zool

      start your own site, do your own reviews or stfu.

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