As is usually the case with Ron Burgundy, the pompous newsman played by Will Ferrell, the title of his latest film, "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues," seems a bit overblown. Movie critics agree that the long-awaited sequel to the 2004 comedy "Anchorman" falls considerably short of legendary, though it delivers its share of laughs during an overlong two-hour running time.
The Times' Betsy Sharkey writes, "Every time I see Ron Burgundy, a.k.a. Will Ferrell, hawking Dodge Durangos on TV — which seems like a million times a day — what strikes me is how brilliant the 'Anchorman' conceit is in small bits." However, "at nearly two hours, the nonsense of Ron and the news game, which Ferrell and co-writer and director Adam McKay skewered so effectively in 2004, is harder to sustain the second time around."
Sharkey adds, "While I'm glad 'Anchorman' is back — we need a little levity in this year of heavy films — I do wish it were better."
The New York Times' A.O. Scott similarly says that the "Anchorman" sequel "recaptures the silly, sloppy spirit of its predecessor, minus the crucial element of surprise. It's a frequently amusing, occasionally hilarious, rarely unpleasant grab bag of mild mockery and inspired lunacy, decked out with cameos from beloved comic performers and random celebrities."
But Scott also cautions, "Some viewers may be bored, however, as this legend meanders down a few comic blind alleys."
The Boston Globe's Ty Burr writes, "while 'Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues' is a disappointment — how could it not be? — it's not for lack of trying. If anything, the movie tries too hard, with the quartet of stars, most of them now hovering around 50, turning beet red from the strain and threatening to burst a collective blood vessel. The sequel breaks a cardinal rule of comedy — never let them see you sweat — and, having broken it, goes giddily to town. I ended up laughing a lot and I'm only partly ashamed to admit it."
Burr adds that the movie "is at least 30 minutes too long, and you’ll know the scenes they should have cut. … I’d keep the few pointed comments on the prostitution of news gathering and reporting in the 24-hour/500-channel era, though."
Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post agrees that "Anchorman 2" "possesses all of the boneheaded gags and inspired lunacy of the original, as well as swaths of dull, frankly unfunny material. But buried inside this grab bag of hits and misses is a pretty good point about the descent of television news into a miasma of 24/7 speculation, fluff and, most of all, hype."
USA Today's Claudia Puig finds "Anchorman 2" to be "nearly as silly-funny as its 2004 predecessor"; like Hornaday, she uses the phrase "inspired lunacy." Puig continues: "The movie cleverly spoofs the 24-hour TV news cycle, as well as sexism and racism in the workplace. Not every scene is equally funny, of course, but most of the comic antics generate laughs."
In the end, Phillips says, "'Anchorman 2' isn't much, compared with the more compact and nimble 'Anchorman 1.' All the same, I'll take it over such tidy soul-suckers as 'We're the Millers' or 'Identity Thief.'"