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

SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf heads the inquiry  

Why should Fiona Woolf be expected to remember every dinner date?

Mark Steel
Several police officers walk near downtown Ottawa  

Nigel Farage on the Ottawa shooting: It could just as easily happen on the streets of London

Nigel Farage
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?