ImageBy the beard of Zeus, Ron Burgundy is back on the big screen in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. The original Anchorman was a modest success when it was released nine years ago, but it has gained a substantial following thanks to DVD sales and cable syndication. The film’s endless quotability has also helped make it one of the most popular comedies of the last decade. In their follow-up to one of the most successful films of their careers, writer/director Adam McKay and cowriter/star Will Ferrell are able to retain the sense of humor set by the original, without making the sequel feel like a derivative retread. It does feel too long and there are some plot points that feel uninspired, but fans of the original will not be disappointed.

Anchorman 2 takes place several years after the events of the first film. Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) are now married and they live in New York with their young son. They continue to co-anchor the news together, until they are called into the office of Mack Tannen (Harrison Ford), one of the most famous anchors in all of news. He informs them that he is retiring, prompting him to promote Corningstone and fire Burgundy. Ron gets upset at Veronica for taking the job and moves back to his hometown of San Diego.

Jump ahead six months and Ron has reached his lowest point; he has been fired from his job at Sea World and has even attempted suicide. All hope seems lost for our hero, until he is approached by Freddie Shapp (Dylan Baker) a representative for GNN, the first 24 hour news network. He tells Ron that they are hiring talented broadcasters from all over the country to move to New York and participate in this experimental channel and they want Burgundy. Ron agrees, moving to New York and bringing his trusted news team of Champ Kind (David Koechner), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell).

This brief synopsis only scratches the surface of an intentionally erratic plot that also includes awkward sex scenes, a major character recovering from a tragic ice skating accident and the nursing of a beached shark named Doby. But underneath all of this craziness, there is actually a fairly clever message about the state of modern news. The film (which takes place in 1980) highlights the transition of news from serious investigative journalism to tabloid/puff pieces that are only reported to gather ratings. The film pokes fun at these kinds of news reports and our consumption of them as viewers. It’s not a particularly subtle message, but the fact that it is present in such a goofy comedy is welcome nonetheless.

But what really matters is whether the film delivers the laughs and, for the most part, the laughs come so quickly that you will have to control your laughter because you do not want to miss the next joke. But with such a zany plot, certain segments are bound to be better than others and there are a few portions of this film that do not work at all. A romance that develops between Brick and Chani (Kristen Wiig) should have been one of the film’s highlights, but most of these scenes fall flat. Watching these two incredibly dim characters fall for each other is somewhat sweet, but the humor feels like it’s trying too hard to get laughs. There is also a fifteen minute segment at the start of the film’s third act that relocates Ron to an abandoned lighthouse and it feels very out of place.

Just as the film begins feeling too long, an incredible segment occurs in the film’s climax that saves it. I wouldn’t dare spoil what happens, but it’s a throwback to the news anchor battle that occurred in the first film and it’s full of increasingly impressive cameos. Its silliness reaches such high levels that it begins to border on surrealism. This scene alone is funnier than most modern comedies and it makes Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues worth seeing. It’s a joy to spend the holidays laughing with such a hysterically funny news team.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues receives 3/4