Reese Witherspoon, who charmed us in ELECTION and PLEASANTVILLE, is back at
it again using her Type A personality for maximum comedic effect. The twist
this time is that rather than playing her usual brainiac part, she is a
ditzy blonde but one with a hidden turbo charger in her brain. This ditzy
but driven personality allows the screenwriters, Karen McCullah Lutz and
Kirsten Smith (both from 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU), great latitude in
developing the comedy. Elle Woods (Witherspoon) has some definite blonde
moments and some quite resourceful ones. (Maybe the movie brings out your
inner ditz, as I spilled iced tea all over myself while writing this
As Robert Luketic's LEGALLY BLONDE begins, we meet Elle as she prepares for
the big date, the one in which her college boyfriend, Warner Huntington III
(Matthew Davis), will pop the big question. Or so she thinks. In a
candlelit restaurant, he dumps her instead, explaining, "If I'm going to be
a senator, I need to marry a Jackie and not a Marilyn."
Since he's off to Harvard Law, she sets out to do the impossible and get
accepted as well so she that can be near him and win him back. After all,
she does have a 4.0 undergraduate record, albeit in "fashion merchandizing."
Cranking up her overdrive, she sets out to convince Harvard to take her.
The Harvard Law admissions committee, a bunch of old suits, do not quite
know what to make of her admissions video, which looks like an Anthony
Robbins inspirational tape prepared by Playboy Enterprises. Eventually,
they decide that, since she has been in a Ricky Martin video, she qualifies
under their diversity program.
When she arrives, she does bring a dramatic amount of diversity to a drab
looking group of young overachievers who ridicule her, calling her "Malibu
Barbie." Her clothing choices of faux fur, rose colored glasses and
outrageously bright colors are hilarious. The students look at her as if
she were an alien from another planet and treat her like she has a
contagious and incurable disease.
When Warner sees Elle on campus, he can't believe she got accepted. "What,
it's like hard?" she asks him, rhetorically. Elle is shocked to find that
she now has a rival. Warner introduces her to his new fiancée, fellow
student Vivian Kensington (Selma Blair), a very serious brunette, who is
When the pressure mounts, as it quickly does, Elle likes to get her nails
done. This leads to an unnecessary, but still cute, subplot involving a
manicurist, Paulette (Jennifer Coolidge from AMERICAN PIE), whom she
In contrast to the serious, dark colored laptops of all the students in
class, Elle takes her notes on a pink, heart shaped paper notepad. Later
she upgrades to a bright tangerine colored portable, which still stands out.
For her résumés she prefers pink, perfumed paper. The movie is filled with
these visuals that are so funny that you'll be laughing even if the sound
Filled with lots of big laughs, the movie is willing to take the risk to
pause at unlikely times to have some serious moments. One of these occurs
when Elle is dressed in, of all things, a Playboy bunny outfit at a large
student party. Tricked in order to be humiliated, Elle was told that it was
a costume party. Most movies would have her shrieking away in horror, but
in LEGALLY BLONDE, rather than being embarrassed, Elle toughs it out and
acts natural. As natural as possible, that is, when her considerable
physical assets are on display for all to see.
After LEGALLY BLONDE, it would be easy to envision Reese Witherspoon
producing, directing, writing, editing and starring in her own movies. She
has such unbounded energy and optimism that it would appear she could do
anything that she sets out to accomplish. I can't wait to see what's in
store for her next.
LEGALLY BLONDE runs 1:36. It is rated PG-13 for language and sexual
references and would be acceptable for kids around 10 and up.
My son Jeffrey, age 12, who laughed a lot during the movie, gave it *** 1/2.
He thought it was really funny, imaginative and interesting. He especially
liked all of the courtroom scenes.
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes