Don't expect an in-depth look at "Legally Blonde" here. Doing a critical
analysis of this movie would be akin to dissecting tofu. "Legally
Blonde" is fizzy and featherweight, an underachieving, yet affable
cousin to "Clueless" and "Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion." The
movie has two things going for it. First, the filmmakers clearly realize
they are making a formulaic, crowd-pleasing girl power movie and they
know how to do it. Second, Reese Witherspoon is so gifted that she finds
and maintains the perfect balance between her character's air-headed
presentation style and her underlying strength and smarts.
Elle Woods (Witherspoon) is the ever-smiling queen of her school.
Bedecked in a seemingly endless series of kicky outfits (with the
highlight on pink), she was Miss June in the campus calendar and a
runner-up for Miss Hawaiian Tropic. Elle is also totally devoted to her
boyfriend, Warner (Matthew Davis). When he asks her to dinner at their
special place, she is sure he is going to pop the question.
Instead, he calmly informs her their relationship is over. As a young
man with political aspirations about to attend the Harvard School of
Law, he requires a girlfriend that is more serious and less blonde. At
first, Elle is devastated, but she quickly comes up with a plan,
informing her girlfriends (who appear to exist solely to fuss over her)
that she will win Warner back by proving she is good enough. How? By
attending Harvard Law School as well.
She gets admitted to the prestigious school by studying hard and
submitting a bubbly admissions video (directed by a Coppola!), only to
be treated with contempt by her fellow students, particularly Warner's
new girlfriend, Vivian (Selma Blair). As is that isn't enough,
Professors Callahan (Victor Garber) and Stromwell (Holland Taylor) treat
her like an addled child.
But never fear, because Elle has girl power! She becomes friends with
Paulette (Jennifer Coolidge), a klutzy manicurist, and wins the respect
of Emmett (Luke Wilson), Callahan's right-hand man. Before you know it,
she has her trial by fire, as the defense attorney (don't ask how) for
an informercial fitness guru (Ali Larter) on trial for murder.
The whole thing is just as idiotic as it sounds, but the filmmakers
understand their target audience and give them what they want in spades.
There are two adorable dogs (large portions of the audience went "Awww"
at least three times), a couple of montages set to pop songs and even a
dance number. Every character does exactly what you expect them to do
and the giddy ending is as obvious as every other element in the film.
"Legally Blonde" is mildly enjoyable precisely because it is so
predictable (comfortable as an old shoe, you know), and because Reese
Witherspoon can make almost anything play better than expected.
Copyright © 2001 Edward Johnson-Ott