Legally Blond - 2001
Directed by Robert Luketic
Written by Karen Lutz & Kirsten Smith
Without a doubt the funniest movie I saw in 2001. Legally Blonde is the story of Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon), a blonde sorority queen from Beverly Hills. Elle has it all, including a rich boyfriend, Warner Huntington III (Matthew Davis). Elle hopes that Warner is going to propose to her before he goes off to Harvard Law School, but instead he dumps her. Warner wants to become a Senator one day and he needs “a Jackie, not a Marilyn,” and Elle is just too blonde for the job. Elle is heartbroken, but she intends on winning Warner back by getting into Harvard Law School herself and showing how smart she is. Elle produces a kickass admissions video (“I got a Coppola to direct it”) that, combined with her high LSAT scores and high GPA (she was, after all, a fashion major) gets her into Harvard. Elle sets off to Harvard, accompanied by her tiny dog “Bruiser,” and finds out that law school may be more than what she bargained for.
I have to say right off the bat that this is a stupid movie. But stupid in that it takes nothing, including itself, seriously. Everything is completely goofy, but you get the feeling that the filmmakers realized that, so you can’t help but play along. From you opening shot of an idealized sorority on an idealized college campus you realize that this film takes place in a sunny universe where a girl like Elle can use her fashion skills to get ahead. Elle moves through the film with a smile on her face, secure in her own sense of style, and in a way creates a new post-90’s feminist icon. Elle cares about finding a man and getting married, but she is also smart, confident and, by the end of the film, wants to be a successful attorney. Reese Witherspoon makes this whole movie and is able to infuse her role with a combination of intelligence and bubbly charm. She gets completely lost in the character of Elle Woods and, much like her role as Tracy Flick in Election, she carries the film. It is a testament to her acting ability that she can get a laugh out of almost every line just with the inflection in her voice and the twinkle in her eye.
Some people have made comments about the homosexual stereotypes in the movie, and I’m not going to deny that they are there. But if you look at the context of the rest of the film you realize that they are being used as comedic archetypes. The Male-hating Lesbian and the Effeminate Gay Man are no different than the Mean Professor, The Snooty Blue Blood, or the Vapid Valley Girl in being used for humor effect. Everything in this movie is all in good fun. I can’t even think of the line “Bend and snap, works every time!” without smiling.
Legally Blonde was based on a novel by Amanda Brown, which I have not read. There is also a sequel to the movie in the works and Reese Witherspoon is attached to star again.
A Horatio Alger story for the new millennium.