egally Blonde is a Fish out of Water movie, and as
such it requires you to swallow its premise without batting an eyebrow. Anyone
who has seen the movie's trailers and went into the theater expecting something
highbrow or "deep" is in serious need of a mental adjustment. So does
the film work as a Fish out of Water movie? Yes and no.
Legally Blonde stars Reese Witherspoon as Elle
Woods, the embodiment of the California Valley Girl -- she's rich, fashion
conscience, and extremely popular with her equally rich and fashion conscience
sorority sisters. When her boyfriend, Warner (Matthew Davis) dumps her in favor of
Harvard Law School and a rich Eastern girl from a "good family", Elle
decides the best way to win him back is to attend Harvard herself and show him
she's good enough to be Mrs. Warner. At Harvard, Elle makes a series of wrong
impressions on her teachers and fellow students, but eventually starts to win
them over. What, did you think she wouldn't?
Let's get the obvious out of the way first, shall we? Legally
Blonde is a silly little comedy that relies heavily on the likeability of
its star. Luckily the filmmakers have chosen correctly in
Reese Witherspoon, who walks through the entire film with a contagious smile and
enough pink to drown a continent. The movie's most effective (and funniest)
sequences are at the beginning, where Elle starts her quest to get into Harvard
after her boyfriend unceremoniously dumps her. The movie makes fun of the
California lifestyle, including how Elle lives across the street from Aaron
Spelling and got "a Coppola" to direct her Harvard admittance video,
where a bikini-clad Elle showcases her, er, assets. The quick glimpses of her
parents are also funny, as well as life at her oh-so-California sorority house
and its fashion-minded sisters.
Once Elle arrives in Harvard in Act Two, the movie throws a
couple of laughs at us, but overall the laughs get left behind in California.
The film then takes a nosedive in Act Three, when Elle is chosen as an intern
for one of her professor, who is currently defending a high-powered fitness guru accused of
murder. There are some entertaining scenes between Elle and the woman who
does her manicures, but when the movie shifts back to the murder case the film
lags. The trial, of course, is a silly mockery of real trials, but
that was to be expected. I was somewhat disappointed that instead of relying on her
brains (and thus proving everyone wrong about her intelligence) to win the case,
Elle had to rely on her Valley Girl IQ to save the day. It's all very silly and
Reese Witherspoon is great in the part, and is entirely
likeable throughout. Her supporting cast, on the other hand, doesn't fare quite
as well. As the
ex-boyfriend Matthew Davis is a block of boredom and besides being somewhat
handsome, has little personality. Selma Blair plays Vivian, the Eastern girl and
Warner's new fiancée. Blair has been trapped in the Evil Preppy Girl role
lately, and it's too bad because she's a good actress and needs better material.
I suppose a role in a big budget film pays the bills and lets her do more arty
films. Luke Wilson, one third of the Wilson trio, plays Emmett, the Nice Guy who
eventually wins Elle over. Reese and Wilson have zero chemistry and their "budding romance" seems perpetually stuck in the
Legally Blonde is a Hollywood comedy with a Valley
Girl in favor of the Fish that is out of water. It's funny in spots (mostly in
the beginning) but drags throughout much of the Third Act, which throws a couple
of (extremely awkward) twists at us involving Vivian and the law professor.
Whatever ideas the filmmakers had involving Vivian and Callahan seemed out of
tune, and as a result their sequences come across as...well, just awkward.