[Contains a Jazz-flute solo and SPOILERS!!!]
The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) is a tongue-in-cheek “battle of the sexes” comedy, that often goes off at random and surreal tangents, but still manages to tell a solid story, and push a progressive agenda. There’s always the danger when you set out to parody the prejudices of a bygone era (or insular culture) that you’ll inadvertently end up perpetuating those prejudices by favouring the bigots with the lion’s share of the screentime, and neglecting to include any more enlightened characters to set them straight or offer an alternative viewpoint. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen here.
While Will Ferrell and the other male cast members may get all the best jokes as the ultra-macho, chauvinistic Channel 4 News Team, Christina Applegate still scores plenty laughs by playing it straight, and reacting to their absurd outbursts, cheesy pick-up lines, and childish sabotage attempts with the bewildered corrections and weary disdain that they deserve. From the outset, there’s no question that ‘Veronica Corningstone’ is a good deal smarter, more professional, and more motivated than the four of them put together… so the only thing holding her back from achieving her well-deserved dream of becoming a news anchor is the dratted “glass ceiling”, and the hysterical fear that her menstruation might attract bears to the station, thus endangering everyone’s lives.
Granted, she does end up playing the “damsel-in-distress” in the final act, with her male co-workers chivalrously leaping down to rescue her from a literal bear-pit… but their ill-conceived and impulsive intervention fails spectacularly, and it’s only the timely arrival of Ron’s smooth-barking pet-dog that saves them all from being mauled to death by grizzlies. Yay, Baxter! And the fact that she was shoved over a safety barrier by a jealous male rival does nothing to diminish her depiction as an uber-competent career journalist.
The only other significant female character is ‘Helen’ (Kathryn Hahn), a production assistant at the studio who clues Veronica in on Ron’s most compromising Achilles heel, and instigates one of the funniest swears of all time… so, yay for her too!