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I didn't go into "Legally Blonde" expecting too much. I rarely go to actual
movie theaters to see a film (I usually rent videos/DVDs), but I got an
advance on this one, and I was kind of sad it had to be this film I was
going to see, but I had been invited along with two other people to see it
and I wasn't going to say "no" for no reason. So I went.
One of the persons I went with just wanted to see Reese Witherspoon in a Playboy bunny costume, so I figured I was in for another average run-'o-the-mill sex comedy. But I was very surprised with the outcome.
So many girl-power comedies these days are made just for the sake of trying to prove a point that women are equals to men (I suppose that's the message behind it--what else was "Now and Then" made for?) and/or support for women. Fortunately, the 2001 hit "Legally Blonde" is not only a pleasant surprise, but an intelligent film, as well. (Sorry, that was my main "gripper" for this review and I had to leave it in.)
Reese Witherspoon plays California sorority girl Elle Woods. Unlike other people her age that are worrying about grades in school, Elle only worries about what toilet paper is the softest. But after her boyfriend dumps her and goes off to Harvard Law School, Elle is determined to go to Harvard and get her man back. So after putting together a very shallow video for the chairmen of Harvard, they accept her into the prestige college (because of her innocent sexuality, no doubt, as we see them gaping at Elle in a bathing suit on the video), and she packs her bags and heads off to Harvard with her little dog Bruiser; as the ads say, "Boldly Going Where No Blonde Has Gone."
"Legally Blonde" doesn't give up on the plot and completely divulge into dumb blonde/sex jokes. This film not only has a funny--if ridiculous--plot, but the jokes are, surprisingly, NOT crude sexual jokes. This film is not another "Scary Movie" made for teens: It has divinely orchestrated comic timing.
Sometimes the plot gets a bit too heavy--the whole teacher-hitting-on-Elle thing is a bit stereotypical for a film like this--but in the long run it seems to break away from the typical girl-power comedy.
Reese Witherspoon tends to play the same characters a lot, but hey, if she can pull them off, good for her. I don't mind if all her characters tend to be the same (to a certain extent) because they tend to be quite funny and cute--who can't laugh at her Elle Woods persona?
The film has a very nice co-star cast: Victor Garber ("Titanic," "Sleepless in Seattle"), Luke Wilson ("Blue Streak," "Charlie's Angels"), and Selma Blair ("The Sweetest Thing," A Guy Thing"--pretty much anyTHING).
In the end, not only does "Legally Blonde" come off very funny, but also very witty, good-natured and sweet: One of the most pleasant surprises of 2001, indeed.
4/5 stars -
Don't judge a book by it's cover. An old saying we've all heard so many
times it doesn't seem to mean anything anymore. But it does mean something,
and it's important; and, before we proceed, go back and read it again. In
fact, let me help you: Don't judge a book by it's cover. There. Now take
a moment to think, really think about it. And if it still doesn't mean
anything, take a couple of hours and check out `Legally Blonde,' a comedy
with some real teeth in it, directed by Robert Luketic and starring Reese
Witherspoon. The premise of the story has to do with upscale sorority girl
Elle Woods (Witherspoon), who instead of getting the long awaited, much
anticipated marriage proposal from her boyfriend, Warner (Matthew Davis),
finds herself jilted as he prepares to leave for Harvard Law School. Elle,
it seems, just doesn't fit the oh-so-serious, somber profile that the wife
of a future Senator must have. It's all about image, and Elle's own 4.0
grade average earned in her `frivolous' curriculum apparently doesn't carry
any weight. Being outgoing, positive, beautiful AND intelligent just won't
do among the `serious' of the `upper crust' elite. So, because she looks
good and enjoys her life, Elle is given the gate, and she just can't
understand why. She's devastated. But she's also smart. Smart enough to
pick herself up and make a decision that stands them all on their ears.
With the grades and the wherewithal to swing it, she enters Harvard Law
herself, initially with the intent of winning back Warner. But along the
way she learns something important-- about the way things really are, about
people and about herself, as well. And she sets out to prove that if there
is any `shallowness' around, it's only in the minds of those who perceive
her as something and someone other than what she really is. And, for the
viewer, right out of the gate this is someone you want to see succeed in her
quest, because her triumph-- whatever it may be or however it comes out-- is
going to be one you share right along with her.
Make no mistake, this is one funny movie-- in fact, it's downright hilarious at times. But beyond the laughter it evokes, there's a flip side to the same coin. Because beyond all of the comedy there is some serious issues at the heart of this film, and anyone who's ever been subjected to trials and tribulations simply because they didn't happen to fit a certain `mold,' or coincide with someone else's `opinions' of the way things should be, will be able to identify with Elle's situation. And it's something you have to be aware of, because even while you're laughing at the funny stuff, at the same time it's almost painful to watch Elle endure the senseless, heartless, unnecessary and unwarranted acts that are perpetrated upon her. At the core of the matter is not only the need for tolerance and understanding, but the necessity and importance of keeping an open mind about everything that transpires around you. Who knows what monumental contributions an individual is capable of making in this imperfect machinery we call society if they are prejudged into oblivion? So there's a lot more to this film than meets the eye; `dumb blonde' jokes get nipped in the bud, and by using a comedy format, the filmmakers here have produced a film that is not only entertaining, but thoroughly thought-provoking, as well.
Reese Witherspoon opens herself up and gives a dynamic performance here as Elle; she conveys such a full-of-life spirit that it is easy to empathize with her, and when the hurt comes, you feel it with her. And through it all, the way she takes it on the chin then moves on with her life makes her a role model for those who may find themselves in a similar situation. On one hand, when Elle finds solace by getting a manicure at the local beauty shop, it makes for a falling-on-the-floor moment of hilarity, and yet you're always aware of that other side of the coin, as well. And it makes you root for her all the more. Witherspoon has a perky, vibrant screen presence that makes her perfect for this part, and she makes Elle a flawed and therefore very real person. When she gets knocked down, you feel for her; and then there's that feeling of triumph when she gets back up and stands her ground. There's no question that this is Witherspoon's movie, and it's one of the best performances of her career.
The supporting cast includes Luke Wilson (Emmett), Selma Blair (Vivian), Victor Garber (Professor Callahan), Jennifer Coolidge (Paulette), Holland Taylor (Professor Stromwell), Ali Larter (Brooke Taylor-Windham), Jessica Cauffiel (Margot), Linda Cardellini (Chutney), Alanna Ubach (Serena) and Oz Perkins (Dorky David), with a special appearance by Raquel Welch as Mrs. Windham-Vandermark. An entertaining, accessible film that should be embraced by a wide audience because of the clever way in which it gets across it's message, `Legally Blonde' can be enjoyed by just taking it at face value and soaking up the jokes, but offers even greater rewards to those who really delve into it and see it as an examination of human nature. Not always, but occasionally, a movie is so much more than what it appears to be on the surface, and this is one of them. What makes it so good is the fact that it can really make you laugh, while at the same time it's subtly telling you that there is no place for cruelty within the realm of human relationships. It's a film that's worth seeing many times over, and that's the magic of the movies. I rate this one 9/10.
A fun if totally unbelievable flick that plays like a college version of CLUELESS at times. Beverly Hills airhead Reese W. enters Harvard to win her boyfriend back, only to find she's got the right stuff to be an ace Harvard student. This is a actually an empowerment flick disguised as a fluffy comedy -- which makes it wonderful viewing for impressionable young girls like my youngest daughter, who is 14. Well acted by Reese W., who is now a major star, and Stiffler's Mom as a shy, subservient beauty salon worker. Some may find it similar to MISS CONGENIALITY as well, another empowerment flick disguised as a fluffy comedy. Recommended.
My rule when rating movies is to review it all by itself....don't
compare it to something else that's completely different from itself.
That's the mindset you have to have when watching Legally Blonde, the
movie that Reese Witherspoon managed to get a Golden Globe nomination
out of. No kidding here. It's really an adorable movie that is
appropriate for any age....a very light PG-13.
Elle Woods (2006 Oscar Winner Reese Witherspoon) has it all....the perfect boyfriend, Warner, who is handsome, charming, and driven, the perfect life, awesome friends, and a really cute dog. But all of this seems minuscule to the fact that her boyfriend has just dumped her because she is not serious enough, and he wants a girl that is well received by the public when he begins his political career. So, Warner enrolls at Harvard University, leaving Elle (it sounds like the letter 'L') disheveled and sad. Then, 'going where no blonde has gone before' (good use of tagline, right?), Elle decides to work extra hard to enroll at Harvard to win her man back. Well, Elle (funny rhyming there) achieves the requirements in tests and community service, and sends in a very interesting video essay, and gains entrance to the prestigious university. She quickly finds out that not only is her dream man already engaged to another woman (Selma Blair), but Elle is not widely liked around campus. She finds her calling in law, and with the guidance of a friend (the likable and funny Luke Wilson), proves to be a talented prospect in the field.
The film is a very watchable film from start to finish, as the movie's opening theme song (Hoku's hit song "Perfect Day") is catchy and likable. Reese Witherspoon's performance is so great and hilarious, yet so true to herself as a person. She shines like the sun in this movie. It can be a little silly at times, not to mention a tad unrealistic and dragging, but Witherspoon's ability overshadows those unfortunate facts. The supporting cast is also good, with Selma Blair and Luke Wilson leading the bunch. Also in there is 'Waiting...' star Alanna Ubach, Matthew Davis, Jennifer Coolidge (NBC's 'Joey'), Ali Larter, Victor Garber as Elle's law professor, and 'Scooby-Doo' star Linda Cardellini.
This is the ultimate 'girl power' movie that every person without a Y chromosome will love. Not all men will like it, but I enjoy it whenever it's on television. It's not something I'd buy, but one that is a great rent for the whole family. Also, a word to the wise: watch this one, and this one only, for the sequel is probably the most disappointing sequel in history.
In `Legally Blonde,' which could well be re-titled `Clueless Goes to
Harvard' - the delightful Reese Witherspoon stars as a ditzy,
fashion-obsessed airhead who winds up (through plot complications too
elaborate to go through) taking that Ivy League law school by storm.
Needless to say, there is not a single believable moment in the film, but
that is generally the case with most fish-out-of-water scenarios anyway.
What `Legally Blonde' does have is a warm spirit, a bubbly demeanor and a
breezy charm that reflect to a tee the personality of its main
Although the film does not exhibit the same level of comic genius we found in `Clueless,' Witherspoon's letter-perfect rendition of the bubblehead stereotype earns the film a great deal of audience goodwill, a factor that helps us to get over some of the movie's flatter moments. For indeed, throughout the course of this tale, we do hit a number of arid stretches where we feel that we should be laughing an awful lot more than we are. In fact, `Legally Blonde' occasionally feels more like a concept in search of a movie than a full-fledged work in its own right. But, just as you are about to give up on it, the filmmakers hit upon a hilarious concept, sight gag or line of dialogue, which help to set the movie back on track.
Clearly, Witherspoon is the big selling point of this film. As an actress, she exudes such an air of intelligence, confidence and compassionate goodwill that she invests even her dumb blonde character with those seemingly paradoxical traits. `Legally Blonde' isn't always at the top of its form, but Witherspoon wins the case for the film hands down anyway.
From the opening credits and Hoku's superb 'Perfect Day' (even had me
dancing) to the very last shot, this film never disappoints. It may be
totally fantastic, slushy nonsense but the 'feel-good' factor is high
and once again, Witherspoon gives a flawless performance. As my other
reviews will show, I do have a bit of a thing for Ms W. - and Selma
Blair - partly because I know any movie with which they're involved
will be worthy viewing. They have very different qualities and this is
exploited to the full in their on-screen rivalry.
Once again the teen movie scores a hit, and once again the supporting cast excels - not a poor performance in sight. Although fairly superficial the plot hangs together well, and benefits from some beautifully crafted characters. Even the dog never puts a paw wrong.
Very easy on the eye and the ear, and one of my most-watched DVDs because no matter what mood I start with, I always feel better after a dose of legal pink. Buy the DVD and get the gorgeous and talented Hoku too. Highly recommended.
Legally Blonde finds Reese Witherspoon in one of her breakthrough roles
as sorority queen Elle Woods who is dumped by her preppy boyfriend
Matthew Davis. He's moving on to Harvard Law School where he will get
his law degree, marry a woman of good background in Selma Blair and
claim the family legacy of public office. So there's no time for his
homecoming queen Reese although I'm sure he'd arrange something on the
She's totally floored by this, but our intrepid girl vows to fight fire with fire. If he can go be a Hah-Vard Law School Graduate so can she. I mean she's got a 4.0 GPA even if it is in fashion design.
But beneath her Barbie Doll personality, she actually does have a brain. She aces the law boards and sends a unique video essay that is something different for the admission committee to ponder. She gets to Harvard to be with Davis, who's unfortunately there with Blair.
At this point the charm of Reese Witherspoon really takes over and dominates the film. I'm not sure anyone else could have pulled off the part of Elle Woods. With that wonderful combination of charm and guilelessness, Reese Witherspoon has created an endearing character, one she's already done a sequel film with.
She's nicely aided by Luke Wilson as an attorney and crony of one of her law professors. Another performance that I liked was that of Holland Taylor as a feminist law professor who's initially put off by Witherspoon, but gradually comes to appreciate her worth.
In fact in the end just about everyone in the film comes to appreciate her worth, some to their regret.
I don't know about you, but I'd like to see a Legally Blonde 3.
How can a man of seventy fall in love with a movie star? Well, I did and it's easy when it's Reese Witherspoon. Legally Blond is not a perfect film - the script has more holes than Swiss cheese and the sub-plot is as old as the hills - but who cares when you are looking at Reese Witherspoon who lights up every scene as though she were Times Square personified! What a doll! Of all the current stars she is the ONLY one who really hearkens back to the Golden Age of Cinema and she especially reminds me of Carole Lombard who was the ultimate funny lady who was a knock-out too! As far as I am concerned, Reese can do no wrong - she obviously has brains besides beauty and the two are a lethal combination.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A bimbo becoming a top lawyer: only in Hollywood!! That's the premise
here and a winsome Reese Witherspoon pulls it off in a charming way,
which she would have to do to make this ludicrous story watchable. It's
a bit on the feminist side with most men pictured as shallow but there
are women pictured the same, too. In an era PC baloney, at least this
film pokes fun at everyone, not just select groups.
Witherspoon and Luke Wilson both play good, nice people and it's nice to see a Wilson brother NOT playing someone stupid. There are stupid parts in here, but you get that in any comedy. There are also some very clever lines in there, too, but overall it's pretty low-brained material.....just played for fun. It would have been more innocent without a needless off-key or profane remark here and there.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The heroine of this film is Elle Woods, an undergraduate studying
fashion design at a Californian university. Elle is rather cruelly
dumped by her ruthlessly ambitious upper-class boyfriend, Warner
Huntington III, who has just been accepted by Harvard Law School and
intends to be a Senator by the time he is 30. Warner considers that
Elle is insufficiently serious and intellectual to marry a man like
himself; as he puts it "I need a Jackie, not a Marilyn". (What Warner
fails to consider is that, with Marilyn Monroe as a potential First
Lady, JFK might have been elected by a landslide instead of having to
rely on highly contentious results in Illinois and Texas to put him in
the White House).
Actually, Warner's misgivings about Elle seem to have some foundation in reality, as she gives the impression of being a shallow, superficial airhead, concerned about little except her appearance and her clothes. (Elle appears to be from a wealthy family; I found myself wondering whether her character was modelled on Paris Hilton, especially as, like Paris, she has a pet Chihuahua). Elle, however, is determined to win Warner back and applies to Harvard Law School herself. Surprisingly, she is accepted, largely because she impresses the male admissions tutors by wearing a skimpy bikini while making her admission video. Once at Harvard, Elle discovers that Warner has now got engaged to Vivian, a snobbish upper-class brunette. After a difficult start, however, she finds herself coping surprisingly well with her academic work, wins an internship with a prestigious Boston law firm and even helps to defend Brooke, an old college friend charged with murdering her elderly husband.
James Berardinelli said of "Legally Blonde" that it takes a talented performer to make a dumb character likable as opposed to irritating, an opinion from which I would not dissent. Reese Witherspoon is, of course, a very talented performer, as evidenced by her well-deserved Oscar for "Walk the Line". Even she, however, (and here I would dissent from Mr Berardinelli's view) is unable to make Elle a character one can warm to. The script might tell us that beneath Elle's shallow exterior there is a highly intelligent and resourceful individual. Ms Wetherspoon, however, seemed unable to show us this; her demeanour, her ridiculously overdone dress-sense, her constant changes of hairstyle and (worst of all) her irritatingly high-pitched voice only served to reinforce the impression that beneath Elle's shallow exterior was an equally shallow interior.
Elle is the sort of character who in the eighties or nineties would have been played by Melanie Griffith- the film, indeed, has certain similarities with Griffith's "Born Yesterday", another film about a seemingly-dumb blonde with hidden depths. Griffith has always struck me as a much less versatile actress than Witherspoon, but in "Born Yesterday" she succeeded where Witherspoon failed, making her character Billie Dawn surprisingly likable.
Moreover, for a film which ostensibly has a "don't judge a book by its cover" message, there was a surprising amount of sexual stereotyping going on. According to this film, lesbians are all plain, dowdy and politically radical; gay men are all camp, narcissistic and hysterically over-emotional. They also, apparently, know everything there is to know about fashion designers, a subject about which straight men are woefully ignorant. Indeed, with the exception of the token "good guy" who becomes Elle's new boyfriend, straight men do not come out of this film any better than gays. Apart from the arrogant and self-obsessed Warner, there is a male law professor who turns out to be a creepy sexual predator, an unattractive nerd who cannot get a date without Elle's assistance and a poor-white-trash deadbeat living in (of course) a run-down old trailer. With the exception of Brooke's oddly-named stepdaughter Chutney, all the female characters are portrayed sympathetically. The formidable-seeming female professor turns out to be more decent than her male colleague, and even Vivian, who is initially portrayed as a social and intellectual snob and a prize bitch, goes through a change of heart and becomes Elle's best friend.
"Legally Blonde" is essentially a one-joke film, the joke being that although Elle might look, dress and behave like a dumb blonde bimbo, the sort of girl who (as Pamela Stephenson said about Kate Bush) needs an intellect like she needs a hole in the head, underneath the surface she has hidden qualities- not only academic intelligence but also kindness and strength of character. The problem with the film is that, unlike its heroine, it has no hidden depths. The dialogue is flat, the humour is forced and the characters are all stereotypes with whom I could not sympathise. Deep down, it's shallow.
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