"Sugar & Spice"
What You Need To Know:
There are some really funny scenes in LEGALLY BLONDE, as well as a few misses. With all its storytelling virtues and fine performances, however, including Witherspoon’s brilliant turn, the movie wraps up too quickly, resulting in jumping conflict and a somewhat jarring ending. Although LEGALLY BLONDE affirms morality, loyalty, keeping your word, and many other virtues, it suffers from a lax attitude toward sexuality, drugs and foul language. There are also a few jabs at Christianity and the obligatory, politically correct lesbian in the class, but, in turn, a lying homosexual witness is appropriately rebuked
(RoRo, BB, Ho, Ab, LLL, V, S, A, D, M) Moral premise with moral elements set in a romantic worldview with a couple of homosexual characters & significant anti-Christian elements; 30 light obscenities & 17 mild profanities (mostly exclamations); woman stands up, hitting UPS man in the nose; kissing, professor tries to seduce student, homosexual characters, lesbian character, sexual references, & references to body parts including women's breasts & the length of a man's private part; women in underwear, swimwear & tight fitting clothes, women doing a bend & lift maneuver over & over, revealing clothes, & discussions of body parts; alcohol; smoking & discussion of drugs; and, student keeps her word, student tries to do the right thing, student manipulates women, lying rebuked, homosexuality mocked, & sexual advances rebuked.
Underneath its garish pinks and contemporary sensibilities, LEGALLY BLONDE is an old fashioned Hollywood teenage comedy where moral virtue ultimately rules and the audience discovers once more that you can’t judge a book by its pretty cover. First time Australian director Luketic stresses the derivative aspect of the movie and the care that was taken to write a coherent script with the appropriate plot turning points when he recently noted that, “It was like old Hollywood.” In fact, this is one of the few movies of the summer of 2001 which seems to know how to tell a story (the others being SHREK and the sexually charged CRAZY/BEAUTIFUL). Although LEGALLY BLONDE at first blush appears to be a derivative spin of Alicia Silverstone’s CLUELESS, the pitch of the clueless blond going to Harvard Law School is quickly transformed into real comedy and a real story.
LEGALLY BLONDE opens like a 1950s jiggle movie with the camera following a greeting card being signed by each of the sisters in a sorority at a California University as the card makes its way from hand to hand to the president and sorority queen’s garish room complete with cute Chihuahua who retrieves the card for his mistress, Elle Woods, played brilliantly by Reese Witherspoon. Along the way, regrettably, the sisters, all of whom seem to be dancing to some teenybopper rhythm, are seen in various states of dress and undress.
Quickly, however, the plot engages when it becomes clear that Elle believes that her boyfriend, Warren Huntington III from New England society, will ask her to marry him this evening. Furthermore, when Elle goes shopping for the perfect dress, it becomes clear that she is a not-so-dumb blonde as she catches the salesperson trying to sell her shoddy merchandise. Although Elle is pretty and popular, she doesn’t treat other people like trash and expects them not to treat her like trash.
At any event, at the famous proposal dinner, Warren tells Elle that he is going to Harvard Law School and has to dump her for a more proper woman from his own Eastern upper crust background so that he can be elected U.S. Senator, as have the four generations of Huntingtons before him. Elle is devastated and withdraws into her room until her friends urge her to get a manicure. In the process of being made over, she decides to go to Harvard Law. With wit and wisdom, Elle follows the prescription of the guidance counselor and gets admitted to the toughest law school in the U.S.
Of course, at Harvard, Elle stands out like a pink flamingo in New England. She quickly realizes that she has to get with the program. Through determination and many moral principles, she overcomes, wins an important court case and becomes the star student.
LEGALLY BLONDE is intentionally derivative from the start, but terrific direction, acting and humor help the movie transcend its roots. Furthermore, from battling sexual harassment to helping a nail salon stylist, Elle’s actions slowly but surely progress toward the self-empowering. Regrettably, with all its storytelling virtues, the movie wraps up too quickly, resulting in jumping conflict and a somewhat jarring ending.
Even then, at the end, Witherspoon’s performance is joyous and serious enough to lift the movie high above mediocrity. “I read the script and it reminded me a lot of PRIVATE BENJAMIN,” Witherspoon says. ”I just loved the idea of this woman being presented as somebody who is helpless and not so bright, and sort of turning the tables on everyone.”
The other actors do a good job of supporting her, especially Jennifer Coolidge, who does a great turn as a nail salon worker befriended by Elle, and Selma Blair, who is also a great preppy girl viewers will love to hate.
There are some really funny scenes in the movie, as well as a few misses. Elle proves for the teenagers in the audience that moral virtue ultimately triumphs over every obstacle and that you can’t judge a book by its pretty cover.
Regrettably, LEGALLY BLONDE has too many foul words, although most are mild, and too much sexual innuendo. There is the obligatory politically correct lesbian in the class, although a homosexual witness is rebuked. Furthermore, there are a few pointed jabs at Christianity, including the lying pool boy at the trial conspicuously wearing a large cross, and Elle exclaiming that the magazine Cosmopolitan is the Bible. Of course, there are also the obligatory lawyer and sorority jokes.
In the final analysis, LEGALLY BLONDE is a mixture of sugar and spice. It affirms morality, loyalty, keeping your word, and many other virtues while it suffers from a lax attitude toward sexuality, drugs and foul language.