Last night the Channel 5 News Team returned to the big screen as Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues premiered everywhere. With an insanely successful first film, a sequel seemed like the necessary thing to do. Only issue is, living up to the legendary status of the first film is going to be tough. As I entered the movie theater, I tried to have a clean slate and no expectations for the sequel. When you see a movie with high expectations that are not met, you are left with a very sour taste in your mouth.
The million dollar question still remains, “Is Anchorman 2 better than Anchorman?” First we need to break down the different styles of sequels to find Anchorman 2’s perfect fit.
The Carbon Copy Sequel
A carbon copy of the first film never makes for a great sequel. This is typically done when the first film is more successful than originally anticipated and the demand for a sequel is high. The Hangover 2 and Taken 2 are what could be considered a gigantic disappointment in this scenario. The final film ending the Hangover trilogy is what saved that series and there are high hopes for Taken to do the same. I feared the writers being stuck for a solid storyline with Anchorman 2 but luckily, it was not a carbon copy sequel.
Get Him to the Greek was a great spin-off from its original film, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. There are subtle references back to the first film but they each act as two entirely separate movies. This of course was also not the case with Anchorman 2 but I am sure that no one would be pissed about anyone from the Channel 5 News team getting their own movie, especially Brick.
The Unnecessary Sequel will sneak up where you least expect it. The first film has some good success but an ending with complete closure leaving a sequel hard to create. There is not high demand for a sequel but the studio sees it as a good way to turn a profit typically ending up with a shit film. An example would be Evan Almighty, a slight spin-off from Bruce Almighty and completely unnecessary. This is the category I feared most for Anchorman 2, thankfully it does not fall here.
Many movies are left open-ended to make a sequel absolutely necessary. Usually a preplanned trilogy of some sorts comes into play just like the comic book movies, Star Wars, etc. Anchorman left nothing open for a sequel although many would argue that this sequel was necessary.
Sold or Straight to DVD Sequels
Sometimes a studio will sell the rights or license a film franchise to a smaller studio for them to continue a storyline with a completely new cast sometimes utilizing a small actor from the first film. American Pie, Piranha, Van Wilder, Bring It On and many more teen movies have traveled this path. Worst I’ve ever seen has to be American Psycho 2; what a f*@king disaster!
Too Many Years Later Sequel
It’s damn near impossible to go an entire year without seeing some type of reboot. Old TV Shows and movies are constantly resurfacing but every once in a while a film series will just decide to create a sequel many years later. Boondock Saints became an insanely successful cult film but took way too long to create the sequel. As a result, you were uncomfortable watching the film as 10 years passed and all of the actors aged yet their characters were exactly the same as the original film. Even though most films will fail in this category, every once in a while a Bad Boys 2 will come along.
So Successful Sequel
When an original film has so much success that the demand for a sequel is absolutely necessary, one of two things will usually happen. The sequel will either kill the franchise or continue the series. If a sequel was not previously planned, the so successful sequel is the result of needing to meet the demand. (Yes, this has been reiterated a lot.) Anchorman 2 was absolutely a so successful sequel along with another comedy set to be released, 22 Jump Street. This does not always mean that the sequel will be better than the first, just ask the Blair Witch Project 2 or Speed 2: Cruise Control.
Better than the Original Sequel
Sometimes if you are lucky enough, you will come across a sequel that is way better than the original film. Examples of this could be Terminator 2, Mannequin 2 or the Dark Knight. Rarely will you see insane success from the first film leading into the sequel though. Does Anchorman 2 fit into this category? Read on….
In the end, the question still remains, “Is Anchorman 2 better than Anchorman?” And here is my answer: You cannot say if Anchorman 2 is better than Anchorman, what I can tell you is that it completely lives up to the hype and provides a completely new storyline worth seeing with a slew of incredible cameos and the return of Baxter. From the start of the film, the entire theater is laughing out-loud and this continues throughout the course of the entire movie.
The writing of Anchorman 2 is way more intelligent than the first film complete with subtext aimed at our terrible media outlets and their reporting for profit tactics. This made watching Anchorman 2 extremely entertaining as if Ron Burgundy and the Channel 5 News team was responsible for transitioning the boring news into exciting entertainment. The first half of the movie is a hell of a lot better than the second half of the movie and the ending is unfortunately terrible. Just about any time you see a Will Farrell movie, it’s imperative to see the film twice. You will more often than not miss out on many jokes and punchlines simply because you are laughing at the previous antics.
This sequel has sort of created its own category and I would love to see this become a trilogy but would be completely content if it ended here.
By: Pat Hanavan