A brief look at what Adam McKay and Will Ferrell got right on the Anchorman sequel.
Producing a sequel so long after the original’s initial release can be tricky. Some movies get a sequel that trumps the predecessor, some get a sequel that is more of a reboot and consequently becomes synonymous with the movie title, and others divide the fans so strongly that they tear family and friends apart. Simply put, making a sequel from a great original movie is very difficult, especially when such a sequel was never intended. It can lead to abysmal results.
Making a sequel from a great original cult movie is very difficult, especially when such a sequel was never intended
Now, this is especially difficult with cult films that have had a fan-base quoting the best bits for almost a decade. Repeating the best lines from such a cult film distorts the quality of that picture, for people start to forget about all the dull bits. So how does Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues do? Does it hold up to the quotable lines or are they all duds? Does it push the characters further or does it consequently jump the shark? Well, for the fans of the original Anchorman, I can safely say the sequel surpasses expectation, has plenty of quotable lines and, more importantly, remains true to the original’s ethos.
Writer-director Adam McKay and co-writer/star Will Ferrel hit the audience with plenty of great new lines to choose from, ensuring you’ll be quoting them until you’re either sick of them or they’ve been ingrained into your daily dialect. It is able to keep dialogue fresh, ups the absurdity, but holds back enough so that they’re just at the right level of silliness. The characters we know and love have also evolved, but not to areas where we are forced to view them as identifiable, multi-faceted human beings. The news team evolve as the times have evolved around them.
Anchorman 2 is set in 1980 and, undoubtedly, there is much more diversity in the workplace, unlike the male-dominated news station of the first film. The new boss of Ron Burgundy and co. is an African-American woman, causing confusion and conflict for the news team. While it can be tasteless at times, the comedy surrounding the characters struggling to adapt remains in the silly ethos of the original Anchorman. It is never malicious, for Ron and the gang are ever sincere; again, McKay and Ferrell could have gone into truly uncomfortable territories, but they manage to balance between racy humour and good clean fun.
By having satire course through the movie, Anchorman 2 feels more like a solid sequel than a subpar rehash
Surprisingly the narrative has evolved into something with greater expanse: satire. Ron Burgundy has been given an impossible task in attracting high viewing figures during the graveyard shift at new 24-hour news channel GNN, and to compensate he flips the ethics of news-reporting by giving the people what they want to hear, rather than what they need to hear. That bold stance helps to elevate Anchorman 2 above the original. By having this satire course through the movie, it feels more like a solid sequel than a subpar rehash, which other comedy sequels have a tendency of being.
Finally, the filmmakers up the ante to Anchorman-style ridiculous proportions; there’s the obligatory array of celebrity cameos, more of gleeful excitement than desperation for popularity; there’s Brick (need I say more?); and there’s the love interest. The rise and fall and rise again character arc is also upped with Burgundy’s baaa-liiind scene (the clip out of context does it no justice. It’s actually much funnier as part of a sequence). In upping the ante, Anchorman 2 could have been too ridiculous to appreciate, but here it works given the context of Anchorman’s sensibilities. It never attempts to go beyond something that it isn’t.
All images: Paramount