I can vividly remember watching Anchorman in the cinema. Going in with no expectations, I found myself in the throes of infectious, intense laughter throughout. That unexpected experience ranks among my favourite cinema memories. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues didn’t replicate that experience. It has its fair share of belly laughs – generally found in its most absurd moments – but it lacks the freight train comedic momentum that made its predecessor such an enjoyable experience.
The two films have much in common, beyond the obvious, each using a semi-historical journalism narrative as a launching pad for improvisational comedy. Half of the sequel’s foundational story is well-executed – a straightforward satire of modern, ratings-focused news, like a dumbed-down Network – while the rest, embedded in Ron’s racism, is less successful. The jokes are best at their most absurd, but the connective tissue between those jokes and the core storyline is practically non-existent. There are other problems. Brick’s intermittently funny, but his obliviousness tends towards randomness, losing the polite desire to fit in that anchored his character in Anchorman. And the first half hour is a drag, almost totally bereft of laughs.
Anchorman 2 isn’t terrible, but it is a clear example of diminishing returns.