Anchorman 2: How not to do sequels

Besides being really very boring, it’s also an irritating moral lecture on the way people consume news media

Share
Related Topics

Every Christmas Eve, until last year, my family of hesitant Roman Catholics used to head down to a Protestant church (the nearest by foot) to try and inhale some religious improvement. We organised ourselves neatly in the pews. We turned off our phones, bowed our heads. We took a good swing at the hymns. But every year, after an hour, we would hustle out of the church spitting and cussing and blinding. This was no reflection on the absence of a bread-to-flesh Eucharist, as the Reformists among you may assume, so much as upon the vicar himself, who – if I may momentarily blaspheme – was an outrageous and terrible bore.

The man could not deliver a sermon straight. His homilies tended to come battered in a sugary paste of rehearsed joviality, of molly-coddling jokes and chubby winks. Jesus was “once a teenager too”, he would sigh, cadging a titter from the parents. There followed innumerable references to Amazon shopping and chocolate boxes. Having come – sheepishly – to have some sense and humility knocked into us, we left twice as braggadocios as we started, and talk over dinner would examine exactly where this vicar was going wrong. The conclusion was usually this: don’t mix high seriousness with low comedy, unless you can truly deliver a line.

I was reminded of this vicar by a trip last week to see Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. The original Anchorman – as everyone knows – was an epoch-defining piece of silliness. It didn’t pretend to have anything important to say about the world. The sequel flips that formula on its head. Besides being really very boring, it’s also an irritating moral lecture on the way people consume news media. Today, the film implies, instead of sitting down to watch a globally significant interview with a Palestinian leader, we’re all too busy gawping at car chases and videos of animals smelling their own butt. Anchorman Ron Burgundy takes the blame - for being the first to feed us what we want to hear, not what we need to.

Well, hold on a minute. If I’d wanted a browbeating, I would have stayed home and signed up for an online course. And surely the only people who have the right to point out flaws in the way we live now are newspaper columnists, not slapstick comedians? (I kid, I kid).

But what compounds the absence of festive cheer in Anchorman 2 are its cloth-eared and crunchingly poor race jokes. Tina Fey, who makes a brief cameo, produced some of the funniest and most un-PC lines I’ve ever heard in 30 Rock, her brilliant sitcom that often played on race. I wonder what she thought of the scene here in which Ron Burgundy can’t stop saying “black” in front of his new black boss (who is scary and sexually aggressive), or the one where he starts jive-talking in front of her shocked middle-class family. I found them both unfunny and uncomfortable. Nobody laughed in the cinema. But it’s ironic, so that makes it all OK, right?

Again, I feel a version of the vicar’s lesson applies: don’t mix high seriousness with low comedy, unless you’re pretty clear on the fact that you’re not just using prejudice to get a laugh. What was that Burgundy catchphrase? Oh yes, something about 'staying classy'.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The power of anonymity lies in the freedom it grants

Boyd Tonkin
Rebel fighters walk in front of damaged buildings in Karam al-Jabal neighbourhood of Aleppo on August 26, 2014.  

The Isis threat must be confronted with clarity and determination

Ed Miliband
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference