Legally Blonde


Directed by: Robert Luketic
Written by:Karen McCullah Lutz, Kirsten Smith
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair, Matthew Davis, Victor Garber, Jennifer Coolidge, Holland Taylor
Released: October 11, 2001
Grade: B

Undoubtedly my favourite young actress of the moment, Reese Witherspoon hasn’t put a foot wrong in Hollywood since she first appeared as a 15-year-old in the low-budget Man In The Moon.  Her resume includes the chilling thrillers Fear and Freeway, the intelligent comedies Pleasantville and Election, and a little of the in-between with American Psycho and Cruel Intentions.  Most would be proud of those credits over an entire career yet Reese has accomplished all the above, plus a marriage and subsequent daughter from heartthrob Ryan Phillippe, at the incredible age of 25.

Legally Blonde is conventional by Reese’s standards.  A popular socialite, Elle Woods (Witherspoon) is preparing to graduate (as a fashion major) from college.  Her boyfriend, Warner (Davis) has asked her to dinner to discuss their future and Elle expects this to be the moment where she’ll get that glistening ring on her finger.  Wrong.  Warner, like his father before him, wants to run for office and he feels he’ll have no chance with a ditsy blonde as a wife.  He needs someone more serious and it’s time to break up.

Determined to prove him wrong, Elle regroups and pulls out the grades (plus a little extra) to receive an offer to attend Harvard’s exclusive law school, coincidentally the same school Warner is attending.  At first, Elle’s “blondness” and outgoing nature ostracises her from the other students but Harvard soon finds out that not all blondes are dumb and there are some who shouldn’t be underrated.

A departure from her usual style, Reese chose the script for Legally Blonde because she saw it as “an opportunity for me to try and reach more people”.  Reese concedes that “today, it matters how many people see your movies” and despite critical acclaim for her previous works, she is yet to have a film explode at the box-office.  Legally Blonde became Reese’s first number 1 hit and its $20m opening outdueled the new DeNiro/Brando crime thriller, The Score.  Yet another feather in her hat.

As for the film, this feel good fairy tale stretches its point a little too far for my liking.  Reese’s characters (and wardrobe) in itself tells you that the film is only meant to be light-hearted fun but so much of it seems manufactured to please.  The jokes, the plot and the ending are too predictable and I much preferred the darker nuances of Election.

An experiment with mixed results, Legally Blonde has certainly pushed Mrs Phillippe into the spotlight.  She’ll next appear beside Messrs Everett, Firth, O’Connor and Dench in The Importance of Being Earnest.  Another intelligent career move which I guess shows that sometimes blondes do have more fun.