Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is so anarchic and weird that it's almost hard to believe a major movie studio is releasing it.
Folks who saw the first Anchorman know the sort of thing they're in for, but it's difficult to describe for newcomers the insane blend of non-sequiturs ("Do you realize that you're talking to a man who just this morning tried to brush his teeth with a live lobster?"), spontaneous musical numbers (an out-of-nowhere bit that resembles what might result if Neil Diamond wrote a weepy ballad about an injured shark), visual gags (Steve Carell eats a head of lettuce as if it's an apple) and huge plot detours that have no basis in logic.
Not that logic means much to anchorman Ron Burgundy — who, like Will Ferrell's other great movie character, Buddy in Elf, feels simultaneously real and surreal. Ferrell's crabby, self-involved Burgundy has a little bit of the Wild West in him and a little bit of an old-school, voice-of-God anchorman such as Dan Rather. He thinks he's the smartest person in any room, although he very much is not, and his only goals are "to have salon-quality hair and read the news." The sequel finds him doing that, in the early 1980s, at a new 24-hour news station much like CNN.
But it would be a mistake to think of Legend as having anything resembling a conventional plot. It's really a series of barely related sketches, with pop songs from the late '70s and early '80s used to connect them. Not worrying much about plot allows Legend to fill us in on what Burgundy's amusing cohorts (played again by Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and David Koechner) have been doing since the last movie and to take a side-splitting side trip to New England, where Burgundy lives in a lighthouse filled with nautical antiques and his own ego.
That lighthouse scene is by far the silliest and funniest in Legend, and I kind of wish the movie had ended there. Instead, creators Adam McKay and Ferrell feel obligated to follow it by repeating the climactic fight sequence from the first movie. The second fight is certainly bigger than the first one, and more packed with superstars, but it's nowhere near as funny and, coming at the end, its bloat leaves us on a sour note.
You can see why the creators were reluctant to shorten the fight scene (or cut it): Once they lured these big names to the set, they pretty much had to keep them in the movie. But the other problem with the fight is that it takes the movie's focus off of what is funniest about it: Burgundy and his idiotic sidekicks.
Fortunately, the balance tips back in their favor with a brief credits sequence that shows they're still together, still as idiotic as ever and likely to reunite one day for another assault on broadcast journalism. Possibly a stint on Fox News?
'Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues'
PG-13 for crude and sexual content, drug use, language and comic violence. 1:59. Paramount. Fayette Mall, Frankfort, Georgetown, Hamburg, Movie Tavern, Nicholasville, Richmond, Woodhill.