Note: this review was originally published on MetaCritic.com.
‘Anchorman 2’ is stunningly, breathtakingly bad. Not only entirely unoriginal and humorless, this heaving, gasping attempt at a sequel manages to reach transcendent levels of racism and bigotry. In a sense, you could say that Will Ferrell’s comedy has disappeared into a nether-world in which his jokes are so lame and his apparent idea of what’s funny so reactionary that you feel that he must be doing it on purpose: there must be some second-level joke going on, a sort of ironically bad comedy.
Unfortunately, it just is what it looks like: bad, lazy, offensive comedy. ‘Anchorman 2”s jokes overwhelmingly are not jokes; they’re just exaggerated portrayals of stereotypes. The movie is overflowing with saucy Black women with Afros and angry libidos, there’s an extended bit toward the end which basically boils down to “Ha ha, it’s hard to be blind,” and Stever Carell is back with what no one else seems to notice is a *retard routine.* The most painful moment of the film is probably when Ferrell has dinner with the “Black family” of his “Black girlfriend” (his repeated phrasing), where viewers are treated to something like five minutes of Will Ferrell doing paintless Blackface, saying “My man” and “Big mama” and trying to get high fives. But, you know, it’s *ironic*, so it’s not racist. Totally.
Let’s be clear: I am not just whining that a movie violated my moral tastes. It is possible to write racist comedy which is, at least on a technical level, funny. ‘Anchorman 2’ is not bad only because it reduces systemic oppression to a punchline. It’s also just a lazy, empty movie. The gags are just variations on the gags used in the original ‘Anchorman’: because the first film has a special cologne scene, the sequel gets a special condom scene; because the original had a random, surreal battle the sequel also got one (but with a bunch of pointless celebrity cameos). As others have noted, a great deal of the film’s ostensible humor centers on Carrell and Ferrel screaming. Just screaming. ‘Cause it’s funny, evidently.
Rarely have I been so disappointed by a film. I went in expecting something not quite as good as the original but still passably funny. What I got was self-imitating garbage that manages to be casually bigoted and deeply boring at the same time. Save your money, your time, and your dignity. Just say no to ‘Anchorman 2.’