It wouldn't have been possible for Adam McKay and Will Ferrell's sequel to Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, their 2004 hit, to match the out-of-left-field inventiveness of that original. Before it entered the pop lexicon, Anchorman, one of Ferrell and McKay's earliest odes to the cultural detritus of expired American machismo, seemed to will into existence an entire style of humor.
This time around, the concept, the jokes and the characters are all old. But they're still funny. Even the occasionally tired forays into cultural critique are reasonably entertaining.
Lovable Neanderthal newscaster Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) finds himself jobless and separated from his wife, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), who has been promoted to nightly news anchor. Soon, Ron and his crew of 1970s fashion-victim cavemen (Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner) are hired by GNN, a newfangled 24-hour news channel. The jokes pretty much write themselves: Ron and company treat anything and everything as news. Sure enough, they're all things that today we take for granted as news. At one point, Ron asks that his screen be overloaded with garish graphics, and his screen looks not unlike one of today's cable news channels, plastered with tickers, sports scores, stock quotes, etc.
There's a charm to the obviousness of the jokes here; Anchorman 2 knows that familiarity is its stock in trade. Case in point: The bizarre Gangs of New York interlude in the earlier film, replete with cameos, in which assorted news teams fought with elaborate weapons. Here, it's elevated to an endless parade of some of Hollywood's biggest stars. As the megastars pile on, you realize that Anchorman has one-upped itself in the most obvious way while simultaneously ribbing itself for doing so. .