Few comedy sequels live up to expectations. For every Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear or Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, there are umpteen turkeys like Airplane II: The Sequel, Blues Brothers 2000 or The Hangover Part II festering in bargain bins.
But Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues has more of a pedigree than most. The original cast has returned, headed by Will Ferrell as oafish newsman Ron Burgundy, and the original director, Adam McKay, is back, too. But even if you thought 2004's Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy was the funniest thing you had ever seen, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues might test your patience.
The plot picks up in 1980, with Burgundy being fired from his news anchor role at Channel 4 (no, not that one), while his wife, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), receives a promotion. In tried and tested comic fashion, Burgundy has also soon lost his marriage and home, and ends up working as an announcer at the dolphin show at San Diego's SeaWorld. (That Anchorman 2 arrives just as a boycott of the controversial marine zoo is gathering pace turns out to be the least of this film's problems.)
When Burgundy is sacked from there, too, the now booze-sodden presenter is offered a gig in New York City, hosting the world's first 24-hour news show. And so, Burgundy reassembles the old news team and heads for the Big Apple.
In the nine years since the first film, two of Ferrell's co-stars have become name-above-the-title famous themselves, and Steve Carell and Paul Rudd gamely reprise their roles.
Carell's meteorologist Brick Tamland still barks nonsense at inappropriate moments, while Rudd, as sex-crazed field reporter Brian Fantana, doesn't get as much to do, the actor's natural charisma shines through. Rounding out the lead foursome, David Koechner has some humorous moments as the borderline psychotic sportscaster Champ Kind.
Elsewhere, comedienne du jour Kristen Wiig pops up as a love interest for Tamland, notching up another likeably quirky performance.
But for the most part, Anchorman 2 is scene after scene of Ferrell, Carell or Koechner roaring like foghorns, sometimes all at once. As moderately amusing as, say, Burgundy's inappropriate behaviour at a family dinner with his new black girlfriend or the satirical stabs at rolling news networks are, there's no flow to the setpieces, and any attempt at an engaging story is abandoned about halfway through.
In place of subtlety, warmth or genuine wit, there's a stream of non sequiturs that were maybe funny for the five seconds it took to say them on set, but don't bear up six months down the line on a cinema screen.
Meanwhile, a string of celebrity cameos – the death knell of most projects – is irrefutable evidence that the filmmakers have more money than ideas, and sadly highlights how many former superstars are now so desperate to be attached to a hit that they'll demean themselves in sub-par nonsense.
The hope is clearly that audiences will be battered into submission, and certainly, you'll be exhausted after watching Anchorman 2, but not from laughing. This loud, obnoxious, classless film is essentially bullying by comedy.
The Legend Continues? Hopefully, this is where it ends.