Apr 14, 2015

Review: Legally Blonde (2001)

By all accounts, Legally Blonde wasn't supposed to be much more than a run-of-the-mill chick flick. If you judge it by its cover anyway. It's definitely not hard to extrapolate further from its sorority president main character who happens to be a blonde and decides to pursue a career in law anyway. The question is, how many dumb blonde jokes could we expect a minute? 3? 5? Maybe more? I didn't really expect much of LB anyway, unfair as that may be.

When Legally Blonde was initially released, I wasn't at the age to really be spending my time watching a movie so obviously geared for girls. I actually still remember my little sister watching this movie in the background while I grinded in Final Fantasy X on my trusty PlayStation 2. Time well spent right? All the same, it kind of feels like I'm coming home by watching Legally Blonde for real after all these years and it feels nice.


At a Glance

Genre: comedy, romance
Directed by: Robert Luketic
Produced by: Ric Kidney, Marc Platt, Christian McLaughlin, etc.
Written by: Karen McCullah, Kirsten Smith
Music by: Rolfe Kent
Running time: 96 minutes
Production company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Marc Platt Productions
Distributed by: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corporation, Gemini Kinomir, Hispano Foxfilms S.A.E., etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $18,000,000
Box office: $141,774,679 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair, Matthew Davis, Victor Garber, Jennifer Coolidge, Holland Taylor, Ali Larter, Jessica Cauffiel, Alanna Ubach, Oz Perkins, Linda Cardellini



In her final year at UCLA, Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) is living the dream. President of her sorority Delta Nu and graduating in fashion merchandising, she's expecting a proposal from her boyfriend Warner (Matthew Davis) that night. Things don't quite go according to plan and Elle gets dumped since Warner doesn't see her as part of his plans to become a lawyer and run for office. Not willing to give up on him, Elle decides to also apply for Harvard Law School.


Unsurprisingly, Legally Blonde is heavy on the girly stuff as it begins. The text for the opening credits is a bright shade of pink and we're shown snippets of Elle Woods doing all her girly preparations for the day like shaving her legs and applying nailpolish. I don't think anyone would be wrong in thinking that Ms. Woods is a ditz and a bit out of touch with reality as the only things that seem to matter to her are designer clothes and her chihuahua Bruiser. That's exactly what the writers of LB want you to think though.

Much to my surprise, Elle Woods is a completely likeable person. While most people around her judge her for her blonde hair and her extravagant wardrobe, in reality she's an intensely friendly and caring person. So much so that she's completely naive. She's deceivingly intelligent too though, much to the surprise of her fellow law students who generally don't accept her. That goes doubly for Vivian Kensington who's played more than convincingly by Selma Blair.

Reese Witherspoon herself is also very well suited for Elle Woods. She gets the "dumb blonde" aspect down pat, but also makes it extremely easy to support her character whether its through her lowest moments or during her biggest triumphs. Witherspoon sells the role and she gets very good support from the likes of Luke Wilson, Victor Garber, Jennifer Coolidge and Holland Taylor.

Part of what makes Legally Blonde work so well however is the writing and the direction. Put together, there's some solid timing to most of the comedy in the film. What's for sure is that we're miles away from blonde joke after blonde joke. I just really wasn't expecting to laugh as much as I did. LB isn't the funniest movie I've ever seen or anything like that, but it gets a solid pass from me in terms of comedy. Talk about judging a cover.

Without revealing anything, Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith take Legally Blonde down a bit of a surprising turn close to the end. It's something that could've been way darker than it ended up being, but it's not necessarily something you'd expect in a PG comedy such as this. It's an element that fits well into a story that has something to say about how first impressions aren't always right though. I could've done without the lazy epilogue at the end of the film though.

Will Legally Blonde change your life? Far from it, but that's not to take anything away from how much fun it is. Reese Witherspoon is just too cute and too perfect as Elle Woods. While delivering some real laughs, there's a satisfying lesson in LB that probably everyone could take a moment to listen to. Yes the story may be relatively predictable, but Elle Woods is an easy character to like and you want to see her succeed. Not every movie is able to get you on the same side as its main character as well as Legally Blonde can. 



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