By the hymen of Olivia Newton-John!
How'd I miss out on this a second time? Years ago, when I saw Anchorman: The Legend of Run Burgundy on DVD, my first thought was quite honestly outrage: why had no one told me this was one of the funniest movies ever made when it came out? Anchorman was a genuine gold mine of quotable lines and had a devil-may-care attitude to zaniness. Its stand-out sequences with jazz flutes and violent gang fights are to this day, strangely perhaps, rarely seen. So it speaks of a deep character flaw of mine that when Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues appeared, I skipped it.
I thought: surely this can't be as good as the first one. I thought: the characters are probably played out. I thought: well, I don't know what I was thinking. But it was all trash, as I realized upon watching Anchorman 2 and cracking up over its endless wellspring of improvisational comedy and choreographed insanity. There's bottle-fed sharks, an RV filled with an installed frying pan, ill-judged hangings and good lord, there's no end to it.
At its heart, the story's quite the same. Ron Burgundy is a brusque man caught up in a changing world that no longer supports his stunted machismo. For reasons beyond comprehension, he works as a successful anchor in a news network, until inevitably, he screws up enough to lose both his work and his love. By teaming up with his trusted team (the sexually charged Brian, not-so-secretly gay redneck Champ and mentally handicapped Brick) he manages to win the day without compromising his own values all too much. It's a framework for the likes of Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and David Koechner to improvise a comedy film upon, to riff on each other and invent new ways to deconstruct what is happening in the plot. The main incentive on set seems to have been: how can I make the other guy break character first, laughing hysterically?
Yes, there's a sense of repetition here and there. The film indulges in some of the moments it knows the audience wants to see. There's another big fight scene at the end that goes on for way too long and downplays how inventive and surprising the first go at it was. There are no less than two jokes that come directly from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. But other parts are just so damned inspired. The aforementioned RV is a prime example. It sets up a scene of carnage and face-melting frying pan mishaps that's all but forgotten in the next shot. Everything's fodder for a good joke.
Fortunately, Anchorman 2 did well in cinemas – no thanks to me. It started out slow, but eventually found its footing. The movie deserves it, it's a high-spirited comedy featuring textbook Will Ferrell. I don't know if the world really needs a third adventure with Ron Burgundy, but I promise you: should it ever be made, I'll be there this time.