by Sam Robinson
Rated MA15+. Starring Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Christina Applegate. Directed by Adam McKay.
‘I love lamp!’
If I had a dollar for everytime I’ve heard this line from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy quoted over the last ten years, I’d have enough coin to buy a house. While the first Anchorman adventure did modest things at the box office, it matured over time to prove itself as a cult hit. Brick Tamland’s absurd one liners, jazz flute solos, autocue gags – there’s plenty of memorable moments from the 2004 original. I’m surprised it took almost ten years for a sequel to see the light of day.
But for better or worse, a second Anchorman is here, ready to equip us with another decade of quotes. The action takes us several years after the first film. Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) is fired from his position as San Diego news anchorman, and his wife Veronica Corningstone (Applegate) is promoted. Burgundy doesn’t celebrate his wife’s success, but rather is inflamed at the news, storming out on his wife and his son.
Six months later, Burgundy and now disbanded team of news comrades are invited to join the launch of the world’s first 24-hour news network, Global News Network (GNN) in New York, to helm the graveyard shift from 2-5am each day. Despite the late-night slot, Burgundy is a hit and is promoted to prime time.
I went into this film expecting it to be an lazy sequel, relying on repeating the hit jokes of its predecessor rather than creating a plot of much substance. And sure, there’s more Brick one-liners, jazz flute, even more slapstick involving animals – but there is a semi-serious story that holds everything together. Burgundy has to juggle his family with his number one priority: his career. The ability to choose what is right doesn’t come easy to him.
The jokes are for the most part funny, although as you’d expect there are crude ones in the mix. Writers Ferrell and McKay (also director) make a real effort to use the film as a commentary on society at the time of the late 70s and early 80s. The script explores racism, censorship, and the power and influence of wealth. Although these are all dealt with in good humour, it means the film goes a lot deeper than you might expect.
As Burgundy finds his feet as a popular anchorman, it dawns on him and others that the changing world wants to hear a new type of news. GNN begin reporting what people want to hear, rather than what people need to hear. And it’s a huge smash – stuffing the news with animal pieces, car chases, human interest, even reporting stories based on speculation rather than confirmation of the facts. Even this is a clever commentary on the often loose stories that count as news on our screens each night.
‘Goodnight America, and don’t forget – you deserve the truth.’
We as Christians have our own piece of news to share. It’s called the gospel, which means ‘good news’. The news is that Jesus died on the cross and rose to life again, so that those who trust in him will have their sins forgiven and gain eternal life. It’s good news because it means that we get grace when we don’t deserve it.
This is news worth telling. In fact Jesus commands us to take the gospel and speak it to those who haven’t heard it (Matt 28:18-20). But we can often feel the temptation to pick and choose bits of the gospel, and share it in a way that people want to hear, rather than saying what they need to hear.
I was recently reading through Galatians and was hit hard by Galatians 1:6-7:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.
The church at Galatia are being swayed by a gospel that isn’t the true gospel of Jesus Christ. And as Paul warns, there is no other gospel!
The gospel is true, but it’s not a message that all people want to hear. It’s an offensive message because it highlights our rebellion. It’s very un-PC to tell someone else in our world today that they’re sinful, but it’s a message that people need to hear. Domesticating our message waters down the gospel and turns Jesus’ horrific death on the cross into an animal puff piece. It’s a fair warning to us to have integrity and to love and proclaim the gospel of truth. The good news.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is a great comedy. It does lose its way toward the end of the film when it trades story for cameos, but the performances by Ferrell and his news team are solid. I’m giving it four out of five stars.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is available now on Blu-Ray, DVD and digital download.