In 1980s America, San Diego's top rated newsman, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), and his team take New York's first 24-hour news channel by storm. A sequel to the cult favourite, which skewers lazy newsgathering techniques.

Loud, loony and long.

The comedic collaborations of star Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay, who co-write screenplays that lampoon popular culture whilst making salient points about it, represent perhaps the most inspired big-screen nonsense currently available in the ironic, air-quote-drenched genre that now passes for movie comedy. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues finds the pair in fine form, charging full-bore into their instantly recognisable brand of improvisational comedy that embraces elements of dada, surrealism and their specialty, scatological bons mots ('By the hymen of Olivia Newton John!" has a particularly catchy ring to it).

the funniest ongoing riff in the film is Burgundy’s unwitting forging of
the current news template

Seven years after the events of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, which is almost as long as it took Ferrell and McKay to deliver a sequel, the natty newsman is now co-anchoring the evening broadcast for a New York network alongside Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate). They’re married with a six-year-old son (Judah Nelson) who already seems as bewildered as everyone else by the antics of his dad.

In short order, the burned-out senior anchor (an unusually sharp Harrison Ford) has promoted Veronica and fired Ron, who insists she choose between him and her job.

Six months later he’s an alcoholic MC at Sea World in California, but is rescued by Freddie Shapp, who represents a media czar in the process of forming the Manhattan-based first 24-hour all-news cable channel—which Burgundy thinks is the dumbest thing he’s ever heard.

On the way back cross-country he assembles his old team: sports anchor Champ Kind (David Koechner), found running a fast-food restaurant specialising in a deep-fired bat he insists on calling 'chicken of the cave"; roving reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), making a fortune as 'the Quincy Jones of cat photographers"; and the indescribably strange weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), introduced eulogising himself at his own funeral.

Once at the fledgling network, they must contend with golden boy rival anchor Jack Lime (James Marsden), their opportunistic boss Linda Jackson (Meagan Good) and Corningstone’s determination to undermine her ex. The whole thing wraps up with an amplified riff on the climax of the first film featuring a who’s who of cameos that suggests the industry popularity of Ferrell and McKay cuts a wide swath.

There’s an amusing Australian connection in the film, as the deep-pocket mogul backing the network is Australian media czar Kench Allenby (Queensland’s own Josh Lawson), a walking mash-up of Rupert Murdoch and Richard Branson whose Koala Airlines provides an off-screen plot point.

By far the funniest ongoing riff in the film is Burgundy’s unwitting forging of the current news template, which favours cute animals and aerial car chase coverage over hard international stories; in one inspired bit, when Corningstone’s bosses cut away to the same car chase Burgundy’s covering as she settles in to interview Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader reassures her it’s OK because he’d rather watch that too. 'When did the news get so awesome?," someone marvels.

At 119 minutes, the film runs nearly a half-hour longer than the original. Given that this is another Judd Apatow production, that shouldn’t be too suprising—to date he hasn’t received the memo that the optimum running time for a comedy is 88 minutes, which is long enough to garner laughs but short enough to avoid exhausting the concept and wearing out the welcome. It’s a pleasant surprise, then, to report the film seldom lags or loses steam—even when Burgundy suddenly goes blind and embarks on an extended interlude involving a lighthouse, windswept beach and musical tribute to a shark named Doby.

As a reward for sitting through the closing credits, there’s a glimpse of Carell eating a chocolate chip cookie under a boardroom table. As anarchic and baffling as anything else in Anchorman 2, it will probably turn up as a plot point in the inevitable, and welcome, Anchorman 3.