The Forum: 'Legally Blonde' by Andrew Llewellyn

From the Web 1.0 days I bring you The Forum. To preserve them for posterity as Geocities can no longer be found but also it's fun to re-read some of them.

This is from "See This!" - by Andrew Llewellyn (Wellington, New Zealand - where is he now?) dated 20th November, 2001

"Legally Blonde"
20th November, 2001

Legally Blonde
United States, 2001
Director: Robert Luketic
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair, Matthew Davis, Victor Garber, Jennifer Coolidge, Holland Taylor, Ali Larter
Running Length: 1hour 35 mins
Tagline: Believing in yourself never goes out of style.

I know what you're thinking... Legally Blonde? As if! Well yeah.... but you know, titles can be deceiving. Although Legally Blonde IS just about everything you'd expect from it :-). Except that it is also smart, funny, not in the slightest bit exploitational, and features a lead performance by one of the most talented & charismatic actresses in the business. Fortunately, she looks good in a bikini too. (Hey, no one said this review wouldn't be exploitational). In capsule - think Clueless (another surprisingly intelligent "airhead" movie, with a talented, charismatic lead), 5 years on.

Reese Witherspoon's been on our screens for a while (since she was 14 according to a recent Sunday newspaper). You may have caught her in such fare as:

Fear - exploitative psycho thriller with pre-ape Marky Mark.
Election - Ferris Bueller changes teams as teacher (Matthew Broderick) is traumatised by star pupil (Witherspoon).
Pleasantville - this one's mighty, Witherspoon & her brother (Tobey Maguire) are 90s kids trapped in a 50s sit-com, with colourful results for the sit-com inhabitants. Much better than the Truman Show.
Cruel Intentions - Good girl preyed upon by ultra-sleazy & manipulative Ryan Phillipe.

So there's a quick run through of her credentials.

In Legally Blonde, Witherspoon is Elle Woods, President of the Delta Nu sorority at her university in California. She's just graduated with a degree in fashion, she's been in a Ricky Martin video & she aspires to be a Victoria's Secret model. The film opens on Elle's "Perfect Day" (cue cool song on soundtrack), she's expecting her rich boyfriend Warner to propose & life will be peachy... nothing's gonna rain on her perfect day....

As if... her boyfriend however, is off to Harvard Law School and aspires to be a senator by the time he's 30, and family decorum dictates that he marry a "Jackie", not a "Marilyn". So Elle is unceremoniously out of the picture.

So what's a girl to do? Why, apply for Harvard Law School herself & try to win the big jerk back of course! And that's exactly what she does. First scoring very highly on the LSATs (some exam that Americans will be familiar with no doubt), and then submitting a unique entrance essay - on video... from the pool... demonstrating her familiarity with legal terms ("I object!") and debating whether "orange" really is this year's "pink", while bikini clad sorority sisters float past offering supporting comments. The entrance board's (stiff legal looking types) reaction to this is just about as funny as the essay.

From there, it's Malibu Barbie meets Harvard, as Elle relocates to the East Coast (with a massive furniture truck trailing her little sports car), and settles in. She also discovers that Warner hasn't been idle, and already has a snippy new (brunette) girlfriend. And it turns out classes are a lot more gruelling than she imagined.

But through her innovative approach to law (a nice argument in class regarding a case involving paternal rights for sperm donors), Elle manages to attract the attention (in more ways than one) of a professor, and ends up helping out with research for his law firm in a case involving a former Delta Nu sister accused of murder. There are some nice lines - "A spa? Isn't that like, your mothership?" And of course, she gets her day in court too.

So how entertaining is Legally Blonde? Well, on my way home from seeing some footage of the Lord of the Rings (sales pitch for the upcoming launch in December - and by the way, it looks totally awesome!) at Wellington's magnificent Embassy Theatre, I found myself standing at a bus stop with an acquaintance who is a serious film festival & art-house movie buff. We discussed the "package" for the LOTR launch, which includes admission to a number of film premieres throughout next year. I commented that they would most likely be premieres for "pap" that I would never in my right mind want to see anyway (I am a movie snob), and I gestured to the Embassy marquee down the road boasting in huge letters "Legally Blonde". The woman I was talking to agreed in principle, then enthusiastically told me she had seen Legally Blonde & thoroughly enjoyed it. There is no arguing with another movie snob (take note).

And what do the female members of my family think? Well, they came home from a shopping spree one day, with free tickets to it (for buying half the stock in a local fashion store), and the soundtrack, which now plays incessantly on the stereo. And so shortly afterwards we went. And we loved it. The girls in particular, finding it funny & inspirational. It's a "go girl!" sort of movie, funny, with the requisite pay-off - ie, everyone gets what they deserve.

I mean, it's not taxing, and it's not art, it is predictable, but it's very entertaining, and Witherspoon is exceptional, and always worth watching. Even when she's wearing more than a bikini (which admittedly, is most of the time).

And by the way... did you know that in the States, July 9 is National Blonde Day? (sponsored by Vidal Sassoon). For real.

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