Released 07/13/2001 Rated: PG-13
This movie! It’s very easy to write this off as just another chick-flick, but this film is so much more than surface-level entertainment; much like how Elle Woods is more than just a blonde. For me, it’s one of the last really good movies of its kind. I don’t love chick-flicks (I really hate that term) the way most of my friends do. I’ve seen many lists on the internet, and have personally had movies recommend to me, but they just don’t jive with me the way they apparently do with everyone else. I’m very selective. So here’s why this one rocks.
Elle is one of the best female characters out there. Yes, she’s a damsel in distress, and in certain ways a simple creature, but she refuses to accept her “fate” when her boyfriend dumps her, and decides to take matters into her own hands, finding her true self in the process. She is a smart, determined, and kind-hearted young woman who won’t let negative things/people stand in her way. This movie could have easily been a dud, but Reese Witherspoon sells it with her realistic approach to the character as she overcomes the stereotypical perceptions of other people. Elle is clearly a socialite who loves to have fun, but when she needs to buckle down, her no-nonsense manner is impressive, and she sticks to her resolve. She truly applies herself to every challenge thrown at her, even though it’s hard. Her struggle studying for the LSATs, missing Greek Week, taking the practice exams, getting serious about her classes at Harvard, studying in the beauty parlor, etc.; she is determined to make it to her end-goal, which changes once she realizes what she really wants. They show her struggle, including small breakdowns, as well as her motivation, and without all of that it’s not as impressive. I really feel for this character. I want her to succeed.
The only dip in the entire movie for me is the “bend and snap” scene. I could have really done without it at all, but at the very least they could have shortened it. I get that it’s a fun moment, but it takes me out of the movie every time. Otherwise this film is a shining light; by no means technically perfect, but a light nonetheless.
Legally Blonde: Red, White, and Blonde
Released 07/02/2003 Rated: PG-13
Now, this movie is the perfect example of why a good, stand-alone movie should NEVER have a sequel made. It’s completely unnecessary, and it only shows Hollywood at its worst by selling out when it should be making more original content like the first title. Around the first five minutes of the movie, Paulette grabs Elle’s snow globe (“Oh I love snow globes!”), holds it up to her ear and says “I can hear the ocean!” The first five minutes of the movie! This is a sign of things to come, and it only gets worse. Not really dumb-comedy worse, just not good.
If there weren’t so many random jokes in it, the writing might be passable. “Hello Patriots!” / “Oh look, it’s Capital Barbie.” “You swallow one key, and all of a sudden you’re the key-swallower.” “I taught Bruiser how to shop online.” “Most dogs chew on your shoes; Bruiser liked to wear mine. I just thought he liked the height.” They were just trying way too hard to be funny. What made the first one so good was its genuineness; good writing that happened to be funny, not jokes. I feel as if there’s no heart in this film. Good dialogue and progression of the story help create that heart, as do the characters, but they really struck out here.
Elle didn’t lose any of her tenacity, charm, or resourcefulness, but she still seemed like a shadow of her former self. Paulette just became dumb comic relief. Emmit was still as amazing and supportive as ever. And her two friends from Delta Nu seemed more random and dumb this time around. (It really isn’t necessary to show someone is smart by having her surrounded by stupid people.) Everyone still singled out Elle because of her style and personality. They inserted yet another twenty-four hour make-up/hair rule for Elle to bust someone in their lies. And someone Elle thought she could trust and look up to turned out to be two-faced. It’s a dumber version of the first movie without any of the good parts.
I’m going to stop now, even thought I could very well go on. Unfortunately, it isn’t even half of my list of offenses this film has committed.
Don’t bother with number two. You can thank me later.