Assigned the graveyard shift of 2:00-5:00 AM, Ron foolishly makes a wager with the network’s star anchor that his team can beat the 8:00 PM show’s ratings. Realizing that simply reading the standard news stories off the teleprompter will not win him the bet, Ron makes the decision to reformat his program and give the country the kind of news show he believes it really wants. What follows is a three-hour telecast in which Ron relentlessly promotes patriotism, Brian spotlights a number of stories featuring people's pets doing cute things, Champ shows sports clips of nothing but batters hitting home runs, and Brick stands outside in a strong breeze to report the weather. The show is an instant ratings bonanza.
From there, the movie jumps from scenario to scenario as Ron and his team create (and mercilessly lampoon) the format of modern newscasts as we’ve come to know them – shows full of talking heads yammering at one another, screens full of extraneous graphics (be sure to read the scrolling news flashes along the bottom of the screen), and important stories ignored for trivial distractions such as high speed car chases. Along the way, Ron tries to woo his wife away from her new lover, spends some Burgundy-style quality time with his son, and attempts an ill-fated interracial romance with a co-worker. Oh, and to give Steve Carell something to do, Brick gets a girlfriend.
There’s not too much more to say about Anchorman 2. If you liked what you saw in the first movie, then the sequel will be right up your alley. The slapstick is still broad (an RV crash featuring a deep fryer, a bowling bowl, an aquarium full of venomous scorpions, and a fruit bat had the audience near tears), the verbal humor is still based around the notion that grown intelligent men shouldn't be saying such things (political correctness does not exist in Ron Burgundy’s universe), and the set pieces still embrace absurdity with gusto, particularly in the climatic star-studded battle royale between various news organizations (a direct callback to the first film) which contains images so ridiculous, I'm still giggling over them as I write this. (Ah, Harrison Ford – you're a good sport.)
You know, despite the protestations of my fellow critic, it’s really okay to choose to see a stupid movie every now and then, even if there are more weighty films playing down the street. God knows sometimes we all need a good laugh. And I mean that literally. God, our creator, understands our occasional need for levity. As Pope Benedict XVI once told author Peter Seewald, “[God] has a great sense of humor. Sometimes he gives you something like a nudge and says, ‘Don't take yourself so seriously!’ Humor is in fact an essential element in the mirth of creation. We can see how, in many matters in our lives, God wants to prod us into taking things a bit more lightly; to see the funny side of it; to get down off our pedestal and not to forget our sense of fun.”
In fact, we can even see this notion reflected in our liturgy on the third Sunday of Advent when the Church gets playful and makes its priests dress in pink vestments. Yeah, I know, every year all the priests insist it’s rose, but it's pink and everybody knows it – especially the little girl at my parish’s five o'clock mass this last Sunday who shouted out, “It's pink!” when the priest tried to roll out the rose defense. Everybody laughed. Which is what a “house of joy,” as Pope Francis describes the Church, should do every now and then.
So by all means, if the first Anchorman tickled your funny bone, or if you really just need a couple hours of mindless fun to take the edge off, then give Anchorman 2 a shot. It’s not perfect, and it’s definitely not art, but the jokes hit their target more often than not, and that’s about all you can ask for a movie like this. Feel free to take a little time to let some joy in. The serious films (which I know you are all wise and intelligent enough to want to see eventually) will still be there when the time to laugh has passed and the time to weep has returned.