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image James Marsdan joins the group of feathered-haired newscasters as Jake Lime, a rival anchor who butts (perfectly-coiffed) heads with Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgandy in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.” image courtesy Paramount Pictures

December 19, 2013
There’s plenty to laugh about in ‘Anchorman 2’

It seems like with Ron Burgandy, you either love him or you hate him. There’s a middle ground, but it’s pretty slim.

In this sequel to the 2004 hit, “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy,” his appeal holds to that divisive standard.

This chapter in the life of the mustached, disco-era newsman, “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” begins in New York in 1980, where Ron Burgandy (Will Ferrell) is swiftly fired and his wife, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) is promoted to the evening desk.

After demanding she choose between him or the job, he ends up emceeing at Sea World, where he becomes so despondent that he tries to take his own life—stopped only by the laws of physics and a job offer to the world’s first 24-hour news channel.

Burgandy thinks the idea is absurd, but the pay is good and it’s a chance to reunite the old gang: Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), Champ Kind (David Koechner) and Brick Tamland (Steve Carrell). After a haphazard roadtrip from San Diego to the Big Apple (pro tip: a bag of bowling balls, a terrarium of scorpions and a deep fryer can make for a hazardous load), they arrive at GNN, run by a thick-accented Australian millionaire (Woody Harrelson) and a tough, numbers-obsessed manager, Linda Jackson (Meagan Good).

Burgandy quickly runs afoul of a rival anchor, Jack Lime (James Marsdan), and the tactics he and the boys use to win the ratings war will revolutionize news as we know it. Meanwhile, Brick meets his match in the equally clueless Chani (Kristen Wiig).

As in its predecessor, “Anchorman 2” gets its laughs from silliness and painful awkwardness, and there were enough gags that pretty much everyone could find something that makes them honestly laugh. Given the choice between silliness and painful awkwardness, though, I personally typically prefer the former rather than the latter, which was bad news for me because there was a lot of awkwardness, particularly in Burgandy’s interaction with Jackson when the pair start dating.

I felt some of the silliness got out of hand, too, when—well, I don’t want to give away too much, but my eyebrow was raised for most of the third act of the movie. You’ll know what I mean when you get there.

If you liked the news team fight scene from the original, good news: you’re getting another one. It’s stuffed with cameos—Harrison Ford, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Sacha Baron Cohen, John C. Reilly, Jim Carrey, Marion Cotillard, Will Smith, Kanye West, Liam Neeson, Kirsten Dunst and, yes, Vince Vaughn, and I’m sure I’m missing someone—and it makes the fight scene from the first one look like a school yard scuffle.

Rumor is there are more chapters in the Ron Burgandy story in the mill, and I have no doubt they’ll have fun with them, though it’s a little exhausting for me to think about right now. After watching this movie, in an effort to get all of the plot points straight for reviewing purposes, I told the story to two people. One stopped me midway through, complaining that I was making him tired. The other asked me if this was a real something or if I was telling about a confusing dream I had.

But this is “Anchorman.” Fans won’t care, and non-fans probably won’t bother.

One last note: There is the tiniest of scenes at the end of the credits, but unless you’re really interested to read all of the obscure credits or unless you really dig the music of the late 70s and early 80s, I wouldn’t suggest sitting around that long. Wait until it’s released on DVD and Netflix so you can fast-forward through the credits, if you’re that interested.

Grade: B-

Rated: PG-13

Time: 119 minutes

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