"Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" arrives in theaters following an endless promotional campaign that has seen Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy starring in everything from Dodge Durango commercials to North Dakota news broadcasts.

That relentless push followed years of stops, starts and speculation concerning this sequel to Ferrell and Adam McKay's 2004 hit about an incompetent, sexist '70s news team.

Plus, Ferrell has spent a good chunk of the past decade playing variations of Burgundy, in everything from "Talladega Nights" to "Blades of Glory."

In short, there's a strong risk of oversaturation, even for the most ardent Burgundy fans.

Fortunately, the movie reunites Ferrell with Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and David Koechner, and their improv-heavy chemistry hasn't missed a beat. They fully embrace the absurdity, the profound cluelessness, that is at the heart of this franchise, imbuing the nonsensical dialogue and comic scenarios with such fervor that there's still life left in Burgundy's world.

It's the early '80s and Ron, Brian Fantana (Rudd), Brick Tamland (Carell) and Champ Kind (Koechner) are recruited to join the New York City-based GNN, the first 24-hour news network. The format is ideal for Burgundy: He's not a gifted journalist or an especially self-aware person, but if there's one thing he understands it's how to give the people what they want.

In this case, that means American propaganda, car chases, home runs and all the other staples of modern news media at the expense of serious reporting.

"Anchorman 2" trades the first film's satire of male chauvinism, conveyed through a story that unfolded in a newsroom but could have happened anywhere, for a more specific target. Obviously, this isn't "Broadcast News" or "The Newsroom"; the movie is gentle and exceedingly broad in targeting the innocuous stupidity of a culture that demands an endless stream of information. Many audiences will miss the larger ideas completely, being too distracted by the comic non-sequiturs, inspired bits of physical humor and astounding amount of celebrity cameos.

Look, funny is funny. The movie can be enjoyed superficially -- the slow-motion RV crash in which a superfluous bowling ball and scorpion come into play is a highlight. And it can be appreciated on a (slightly) deeper level. What more do you want?

 

Directed by Adam McKay

Starring Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell

Rated PG-13