Anchorman-2-The-Legend-Continues-posterFor a time, it seemed that the only people who weren’t interested in an Anchorman sequel were its stars. Although it didn’t set the world alight when it was released in 2004, since then it’s gained a remarkably loyal cult following and it’s become one of those movies that if I happen upon it while trawling the late-night backwaters of the channel guide for an excuse to stay up a little longer, I’m more likely than not to watch it.

So it was with much excitement that I accepted the news of the sequel, and I was not alone. Such is the love for these characters that in recent weeks real life local news stations even let Will Ferrell don his sports jacket and guest anchor in character. Surely it couldn’t live up to the hype?

Well, kinda.

Just like the time between movies, the story picks up about a decade after the original. Ron & Veronica are married with a son but are soon to be split when Veronica is offered a night-time news slot and Ron is offered the door. Rather inexplicably, Ron finds himself attempting to provide commentary to a dolphin show in San Diego when he is approached by a representative from Global Network News to join in at the ground floor for a new initiative: 24 hour news. Ron agrees and, of course, sets about rounding up the old crew. Just like The Muppets.

Champ Kind (David Koechner) is selling Kentucky Fried Bats, Brian Fontana (Paul Rudd) is California’s leading cat photographer, and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) is dead. But only for about three minutes. With the crew reunited, they return to New York, bump into an antagonist in the shape of Jack Lime (James Marsden) and a world that is skeptical about the merits of round the clock news.

During the time it takes to get through this set-up, I sat with the expression of a man with a laugh built up in his throat, waiting for any old excuse to let it go and for the most part, this potential energy wasn’t spent. It’s weird. Because it is kinda funny, but it’s like the cast and characters feel the hype as much as the audience and are so conscious of the act they’re following that they’re trying too hard.

Story-wise, there’s probably more substance here than last time, which is pretty unusual for a comedy sequel when it’s all too easy just to stick the characters in a foreign country of have them re-enact It’s A Wonderful Life. As Ron works on getting 24 hour news into the public’s living rooms, with an anitpodean station owner no less, there are a lot of satirical observations on the evolution and definition of news. Cute animal stories. Live freeway car chases. Things that we take for granted are revolutionary here, all in the march towards ratings. Ron, as it turns out, is cutting edge.

The laughs come a bit more freely in the second half of the movie, mostly from the wonderfully oddball relationship between Brick and Chani (an excellent performance from Kristen Wiig), but it’s an affair that does its best to strangle its own efforts. It’s hampered by plot points that should really have been cut out and relies too heavily and easily on motifs from the original (jazz flute, news team brawl) that here feel tired and out of place. There’s a lengthy shark taming scene that really serves no purpose. There’s a very worn racial storyline where Ron comes to terms with having a black female boss that culminates in an awkward family dinner scene that does absolutely nothing other than to extend an already wafer-thin gag.

Overall, there’s probably enough to keep fans entertained and think the wait was just about worth it. But in years to come, when I’m scanning the channel guide, I suspect I may skip over yet another late-night airing of Anchorman 2 and instead I’ll probably just go to bed.