Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues ★★★½

Anchorman has become high on the list of classic, quote-worthy comedies of all time. It's patently absurd, but the premise that binds it together is done just enough justice that it never careens completely off the rails - though it takes a few detours along the way. But despite the flexibility inherent in such ridiculousness, a return to the universe where anchorpeople can pretty much do and say whatever they damn well feel struck me as something that could become potentially stale or even tired in the form of a sequel.

Anchorman 2, fortunately, is anything but stale. McKay and Ferrell ramp up their outrageousness to near breaking point - in fact, some set-pieces barely feel as if they are even taking place in the same realm of possibilities as everything else we’ve seen to date.

Does it all work? Absolutely not. There are bits and beats that feel flat, and pretty much every character delivers some complete misfires at some point in the film - others still should probably not even be present at all. But this is a dense film for laughs - the beats come quick and often so it’s easy to completely miss, and possibly forgive, the weaker parts. There’s even some sharp satire in the mix here that doesn’t require emphasis to work.

The cast turns in performances at the levels we expect, with Rudd and Ferrell somehow being the most grounded of the core crew. Carell’s Brick feels at first like he is delivering lines pandering to our expectations, but ultimately has a bit more dimensionality breathed into him with the introduction of Wiig’s equally absurd Chani. New additions integral to the world of Brugundy include characters played by Dylan Baker, Meagan Good and Greg Kinnear, all of whom are necessarily more competent but manage to hold their own for the most part. There’s a metric crap-ton of cameos - too many to name - and while some are majestically awesome, far too many are just terrible. Somehow, that’s all okay because there’s a certain self-awareness in the McKay/Ferrell approach that gives non-comedians and even non-actors a free pass.

My experience with this film suffered from some terrible technical interruptions, with intermittent sound issues and even a full-stop rewind. But this, like the first Anchorman, will be a film that develops strength on repeat watchings. Which means that despite the voucher the theatre gave me as compensation, I wasn’t even all that angry for the issues I experienced. For never once did I feel that - despite some seriously-lacking flow in my watching - I did not receive the requisite amount of laughs for which I paid.

If you found the first Anchorman aimless or too prone to drifting into wild absurdity, you will certainly take issue with the meandering on display in its sequel. It’s brash, it’s outrageous, and it’s nothing if not completely stupid. And it’s exactly what I needed on an otherwise ho-hum day.