Gemma LaMana
Jeff Labrecque
December 18, 2013 AT 12:00 PM EST

Jacques Clouseau. Frank Drebin. Austin Powers.

Make way for Ron Burgundy on the Mount Rushmore of comic buffoonery.

With Anchorman 2, the legend really does continue. With Will Ferrell back as the bloviating male chauvinist behind the porn mustache, Paul Rudd on the prowl, Steve Carell courting a she-Brick, and David Koechner crossing every friendship boundary, the chemistry that made the 2004 comedy a frat-boy quote machine is intact. In the new film, Ron reunites the news team at GNN, the first 24-hour cable news station, after a very public fall from grace that cost him his job and marriage to Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate). But you can’t keep a good hair-do down who just wants to read the news.

Like the Austin Powers sequels, Anchorman 2 doubles down on what you giggled the longest at in the first film — for better and sometimes worse. As EW’s Chris Nashawaty writes, “If it has a 2 — or, classier yet, a II — in the title, the smart money says that it won’t be as funny as the original. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues doesn’t defy that axiom, but it’s still plenty hilarious in a reheated sort of way.”

Before you head to the theater, click below to see what the leading critics are saying — and which critics shoe-horn the best Anchorman references in their headlines.

Chris Nashawaty (Entertainment Weekly)

“The plot is pretty much beside the point in a film like this one. What we want are jokes that are as comforting and familiar as the laugh track on a sitcom rerun. Anchorman 2 dutifully (sometimes hilariously) serves up those jokes even though we already know the punch lines.”

A.O. Scott (New York Times)

“The new movie, meanwhile, recaptures the silly, sloppy spirit of its predecessor, minus the crucial element of surprise. It’s a frequently amusing, occasionally hilarious, rarely unpleasant grab bag of mild mockery and inspired lunacy, decked out with cameos from beloved comic performers and random celebrities.”

Betsy Sharkey (Los Angeles Times)

“While I’m glad Anchorman is back — we need a little levity in this year of heavy films — I do wish it were better. With so many sight gags and nearly every living comic in the world making an appearance at some point, the entire operation, like Ron’s ego, feels a bit bloated.”

Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times) ▲

“If the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ever decided to recognize acting that goes beyond heavy dramatic lifting, they would do well to look at Ferrell’s work, and, no, I’m not joking.”

Scott Foundas (Variety)

“Together, these four performers have the charged improvisational energy of the actors in John Cassavetes’ films (a touchstone for McKay and others in the orbit of Anchorman’s producer, Judd Apatow), and when they try to one-up each other, or carry a gag past its presumed breaking point, it can be a thing of beauty.”

David Edelstein (New York)

“The thinking must have been, The more insane the improv, the better. … Those gags are so extreme that scene after scene rockets past dumb, past camp, past Kabuki, and into the Milky Way of Silly where laws can be made up and discarded as long as what happens gets laughs.”

Ann Hornaday (Washington Post)

“Buried inside this grab bag of hits and misses is a pretty good point about the descent of television news into a miasma of 24/7 speculation, fluff and, most of all, hype. Ferrell’s unrelenting charm offensive, it turns out, has been a post-modern meta thingie all along.”

Steven Rea (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Anchorman 2, like its forebear, revels in skewering the more inane aspects of television news – its infotainmentization, its politicization, its tabloidization. But that’s the easy stuff. Ferrell and McKay also amp up the absurdist farce, like the Marx Brothers on hallucinogens.”

Drew McWeeny (HitFix)

“The McKay/Ferrell comedies are all so dense that I inevitably have the same reaction. I laugh a lot the first time, then I wonder if there’s anything more to the film, and then when I see them a second time, I am struck by a whole new group of jokes.”

Todd McCarthy (Hollywood Reporter)

“Especially toward the beginning, the filmmaking is quite clunky and lacking in finesse. But the comic potential of individual scenes reaps the benefit of what one would imagine to have been lots of rewriting, improv and careful preparation, as a good percentage of the funny stuff is right on the money.”

Adam Nayman (Toronto Globe and Mail)

“The ostensibly critical depiction of cable news (spoiler: it turns out Ron Burgundy inadvertently christened the age of TV tabloid journalism) is rather toothless: How can a movie pretend to decry the cynicism of corporate synergy when it’s had one of the most ostentatious multimedia promotional campaigns in recent memory?”

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Overall Metacritic rating (1-100): 63

Rotten Tomatoes: 77 percent

Rated: PG-13

Length: 119 Minutes

Starring Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, and David Koechner

Directed by Adam McKay

Distributor: Paramount

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