Legally Blonde Review
Clueless… Air-head… copycat..Alicia Silverstone… There, that's the expected words out of the way! Yes, Legally Blonde is almost a twin to 1995's Clueless (or if not certainly at least an admiring younger sibling) but while Clueless was more satirical and not above taking a swipe at its California 'it' girl targets, 'legally Blonde' actually likes its characters and wants you to like and admire them.
There is a plot but really it's just there to hang the characters together and get them to develop as people, (man) it mainly concerns Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) and her attempts to win back her dumb but snobbish boyfriend by enrolling at Harvard Law School. She gets there by a combination of good grades, and an entry video 'directed by a Coppola' in which she breezily extols her virtues in a sequinned bikini. Of course when she gets there she cant keep up with the work and meets the 'bitchy new girlfriend,' 'the tough cookie female professor, and "the nice older-can-you say-new-romantic-interest ex student' ™. Along the way she manages to change the lives of all she meets including the sweet, bumbling manicurist that she befriends on a down in the dumps visit for some 'emergency nails' and the workout Queen ex member of her sorority on trial for a murder she did not commit. 'Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy, happy people don't murder their husbands. They just don't'. Of course all this is highly predictable and you can telegraph how the plot is going to go from about 5 seconds in, but this really is part of the fun. And of course, any film with a character called (without the hint of irony) 'Chutney' has got to have something very confident going for it!
For such a lightweight movie the film boasts some Actors of some weight. The always-talented Selma Blair, the younger of the two up-and-coming Wilson brothers, (Luke) and even Raquel Welch. But of course the acting honours have to go to Witherspoon who plays the film as lightly as candy floss (and just as pink!) and if it hadn't been for that fact that we have seen her play other, darker characters you could almost believe that she really was Elle and was not acting at all. Of course she is helped by a good script (adapted from a novel by Amanda Brown and adapted by the screenwriters responsible for '10 Things I Hate About You') and while the direction by Robert Luketic is nothing special, it's perfectly adequate for the film. Special mention must also go to the music, which is always as breezy and perky and compliments the film well.
I watched this film with my 9 year old daughter (who has since watched it 6 more times!) and she loved it, and commented that it was like 'Sabrina the Teenage Witch, but without the magic and stuff' and that's about as good a review as I can offer. Not just for nine-year-old girls, but for the nine-year-old girl in us all.
The sound is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and always sounds crisp and clear, there is no DTS but then a film like this probably wouldn't really benefit from that in any case.
The picture is presented in 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and as would be expected for such a recent film sharp. As the colour palette is 75% pink, it can tend to look a little red at times, but this is a minor quibble.
For an MGM disc this DVD actually has some fairly good extras. The featurette 'The Hair that Ate Hollywood' is fun (and even has chapter stops) but plays ultimately like an over extended Max Factor ad, telling us just how difficult it was to get just the right shade of blond to 'express' the character.
Also included of course we have the standard trailer and music video, which are much as you might expect. The deleted scenes are many but really don't add that much more to the film as a whole and its quite easy to see why they were deleted, even with the directors introduction at the beginning of each telling us why (mostly due to reasons of the film being too long it seems)
He repeats much of this in the commentary with producer Marc Platt and Witherspoon in which both of them tell us lots of anecdotes about the making of the film and what happened on the various days of filming, and just how lovely Reece was and how pretty she looked and what a wonderful actress she was. To her credit, Witherspoon ignores most of the fawning and adds lots of anecdotes of her own, telling of her horror when she watched the premiere of 'Bridget Jones's Diary' and saw an almost identical 'arriving dressed as a bunny scene,' but as she generously admits they did do it first (two bunny outfits in one cinematic year…what are the chances of that?!)
Best of all however is the 'Trivia Track' which turns the film into a movie version of VH1's Pop Up Video, with snippets of information on everything from the stars and their careers to how many words women speak per day (7000 on average) and where the word 'blonde' came from and its meaning. This is something I've not really seen before and it works well on this film and even when watching it with the commentary track on it throws up some new and interesting facts.
If you want a movie that is thought provoking, deep and multi-layered then go and watch 'Citizen Kane', too many reviews have made much of the fact that this film is as light and breezy as Elle herself, but its also as likeable and surely there is a place for films that are perfect and light as well as perfect and deep. Steak is a wonderful meal but sometimes it's also nice to have a strawberry sundae with a cherry on the top.