Will Ferrell is an immensely gifted comic actor who (like most of us, I guess) doesn’t think too long about taking the soft option when it comes to earning a buck.
His movies aim low, primarily at mob-minded young blokes, but that he is able to raise the bar higher than a script’s dumbness is testimony to his gauche sincerity – how else to explain Talladega Nights or The Campaign?
His pose as a cultural subversive might almost be convincing if it weren’t for the fact that he lives like royalty and always flies at the pointy end of the plane.
In Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, he is back as Ron Bergundy, the idiot newsreader, he is sacked from his regional TV presenter’s job and separated from his wife and little boy.
It’s the late Seventies and, with his career hanging by a thread, Ron accepts an offer to be the anchor on the 2–5am graveyard shift of Global News Network, an outfit owned by a brash Australian planning to screen the news 24/7 – CNN and the Dirty Digger are the obvious references.
Ron makes it big when he and his crew decide to tell the viewers only what they want to hear.
The gags are hit and miss – a line about Mother Theresa’s vagina might work for the geniuses with their caps on backwards, but really? – the style is ridiculously stilted and the characterisations typically extreme.
Steve Carell’s weatherman is embarrassingly awful, as is his clumsy romance with Kristen Wiig (neither will feature this in their CV reel).
Not that we could expect any Judd Apatow production to feature an intelligent part for a woman (this makes The Heat look like Ibsen). That it flops timidly over the line with yet another sanctification of the nuclear family as a dad makes time to see his privileged son’s piano recital tends to water down the try-hard iconoclasm, but it is mildly amusing.
Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of overpaid stars acting the goat in order to further milk an audience captivated by celebrity dross.
~ John Campbell