LEGALLY BLOND (2001) 

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Reese Witherspoon
Luke Wilson
Selma Blair
Matthew Davis
Victor Garber
Jennifer Coolidge
Holland Taylor
Ali Larter

Robert Luketic



Time: 94 mins.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Romantic Comedy

I don't know what compelled me to go see this movie. Maybe it was Ms. Witherspoon, who proved to me just how funny she can be in the indy hit ELECTION. Maybe it's because I had nothing better to do and this was the only film that looked like it wouldn't totally suck. Or maybe I just wanted to go to a movie where a cute blond showed she was more than merely a pretty face, but a woman with a mind and personality to be reckoned with. Which is not to say that LEGALLY BLOND will elevate the reputation of blond-haired woman across the country, but at least it has a valid and funny point of view. This certainly isn't a highly memorable movie – think of it as CLUELESS goes to college – but it is entertaining with a humorous if not exactly intricate plot. Sure they play up the fish out of water angle a bit much, but Witherspoon's performance gives her bubbly blond not only depth, but a backbone as well. The film opens with an introduction to all things Elle. She's about to go out on the most important date of her life with her boyfriend Warner (Davis). She believes this is the night that he's going to propose to her, fulfilling her heart's deepest desire.

Unfortunately, things don't go the way Elle hoped. In fact, Warner breaks up with her because he's heading to Harvard Law School and she's just not the type of girl a future senator is expected to marry. Elle is devastated, throwing all her good grooming habits out the window, feeling sorry for herself and wondering how she can get him back. While reading a magazine at the salon, she realizes what she needs to do, besides take a shower. She's going to apply to Harvard to prove to Warner that she can be just as dull and upstanding as those snotty East Coast girls. She surprises everyone by passing the LSAT's and actually getting accepted. She's the first fashion major to ever become part of a freshman class, which proves how important a video essay can be. Of course, the ultra-L.A. Elle sticks out like a bright pink sore thumb, drawing instant derision from everyone she meets. She remains undaunted even after surprising Warner and discovering he got engaged over the summer to the snotty Vivian Kensington (Blair).

"You're breaking up with me because I'm too... blonde!"

She can't believe that uptight wench is wearing her 6-carat engagement ring. She begins to see that both excelling at Harvard and winning Warner back might be impossible dreams. However, two friendships – one with a local manicurist named Paulette and the other with a law associate of one of her professors named Emmett (Wilson) – give her the confidence to keep trying. She soon realizes that no matter how well she does, Warner will never see her as anything but a simple-minded blond. She becomes more determined than ever to show him and his dumpy fiancee up how smart she can be. She does so well, that when one of their teachers, Professor Callahan (Garber), needs students to help him with his latest murder trial, Elle is one of those selected.

Even though she's on the team, the only people who seem to value her opinions are Emmett and the client Brooke Taylor Windham (Larter), a previous member of Elle's sorority Delta Nu. Her ability to gain the client's trust causes Vivian to look at Elle in a different light. As the trial progresses Elle's unique insights give them several breaks in the case. However, her charm doesn't always get her the response she was hoping for. Needless to say, after an ugly situation almost causes her to chuck it all for L.A., she finds new strength in herself and a way to use her knowledge for the good of others. Mainly to win her client her freedom. Who knew a perky little blond could bring so much style and fun to the courtroom. There's nothing terribly unique about this dumb girl does good story, but it captures your heart from the minute Witherspoon discovers she's been dumped and refuses to let go.

Witherspoon manages to make you believe that this fashionista with a 4.0 really is a good student and someone who would make a good lawyer. She may be vain, but she's not exclusionary. She likes everyone and gives them a fair chance...before she cuts them down where they stand. She's generally a nice person, but she fights back when she's wronged and some of her comebacks are to die for. Especially the ones at the expense of Vivian. There's a whole sub-plot with the manicurist and her crush on the UPS man that Elle helps to fruition that is really quite silly and a waste of time, but I guess they needed to have something other than boring courtroom scenes. Not that the courtroom scenes here are boring. In fact, not since LIAR LIAR has someone been acquitted over a piece of information so trivial. It's something only Elle would know about and it's pretty clever all things considered.

There's really no one in the supporting cast who's up to par with Witherspoon, but they do their jobs well enough. I want to like Luke Wilson, but he's just too hangdog for my tastes. Maybe I'll like him once he plays a part that doesn't require him to play a milksop. Neither man is worth Elle's time, but since these are her choices I guess I'd pick Wilson too. Selma Blair is just a little too twitchy and pouty. Though she does better here than in most of her other pictures. I don't know why people keep hiring her. As for the outfits they dress Witherspoon in, they may be considered fashionable, but if that's true I'd rather never be in vogue. Granted if they dressed her more appropriately, or less like a Barbie doll, we wouldn't have this wonderful dichotomy between her and everyone else. And frankly, if I had a body like that after giving birth to a child, I'd want to show it off as well. However, I thought they went way over the top. To each his own. If you're looking for a light and frothy comedy, with decent performances and a simple but interesting plot, then you should check out this film. It goes down smooth and won't hurt your head when it's over.

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