It's been nearly a decade since Ron Burgundy and the Channel 4 News Team graced the silver screen, but you'd be forgiven for thinking they never left. As soon as Ron himself announced the character's return on Conan last year, he's been everywhere: commercials, actual newscasts, talk shows, bookshelves, liquor cases, ice-cream freezers. After a year of anticipation, we’d be forgiven for being sick of the hype. But oh, does Anchorman 2
contain some serious belly laughs, and the instant Ron (Will Ferrell) hits the screen reading nonsense news and exclaiming, "By the hymen of Olivia Newton-John," goodwill returns. Where the first Anchorman marveled at the foreign-seeming world of '70s network news, director Adam McKay's sequel takes its cue from his buddy-cop flick The Other Guys
, and he peppers the screwball, surrealist comedy with an actual message, taking aim at the decline of real journalism. This time, Burgundy and his team try to conquer the 24-hour cable-news cycle of the ’80s with alarmist weather warnings and baseless live reporting on car chases. They’re basically ushering in a proto-Fox News—there’s even a scheming Aussie owner—and it works like gangbusters because, unlike the original, most of the laughs are derived from what we see every day. Anchorman 2
does contain some misses, particularly a bizarre and overlong second act in which Ron leaves the business for some soul searching. But keep in mind that this is still a mile-a-minute comedy that includes a man bottle-feeding a shark, investigative reporting that involves taste-testing street drugs, condoms made of mongoose hair, and the theme song from Xanadu as an aphrodisiac. It's good to have Ron Burgundy back, even if he kind of overstays his welcome.