Rating: PG-13 (language and sexual references)
Length: 96 minutes
Release date: July 13, 2001
Directed by: Robert Luketic
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Stars: 3 out of 5
“Legally Blonde” is a 2001 comedy about Elle Woods, a beautiful if clueless college coed who decides to pursue an unlikely career in law. The film is based on the book of the same name by author Amanda Brown. Reese Witherspoon stars as Elle, the film’s main character. Elle comes from a privileged background in Beverly Hills and has gotten everything she’s always wanted through a combination of her father’s money and her good looks. Although Elle appears like a traditional valley girl on the surface, her law school colleagues soon learn that underestimating her is a big mistake.
The film opens with Elle and her sorority sisters planning for her long-time boyfriend Warner to propose. Contrary to her expectations, Warner uses the occasion to break up with her instead, citing his need for a demure and professional wife to help him in his future political career. Devastated, Elle embarks on a quest to win Warner back by applying to Harvard Law, the school he will be attending in the fall. Against all odds, Elle gains acceptance to the prestigious law school in spite of her complete lack of experience. Surprising even herself, Elle moves and begins her transition into the hallowed halls of the Ivy League school.
Once enrolled, Elle quickly learns that law school is going to be the first true challenge she has ever faced. She may have sailed past the admissions board with her good looks, but her intelligent and competitive classmates won’t be so easy to win over. Elle encounters a shocked Warner as well as his fiancée, the brilliant and brunette Vivian. Vivian is everything Elle is not, with a sharp wit and a cold, professional demeanor. Elle is discouraged but remains determined to succeed at law school and prove to Warner that she can be the woman he needs. Thanks to some difficult lessons both inside and outside the classroom, Elle is eventually forced to decide whether she wants to live her life for someone else or succeed for her own sake.
“Legally Blonde” is a charming film that has more than earned its status as a comedy classic. The script is filled with hilarious one-liners between Elle and her law school classmates. Although it may be tempting to view this film as an extended blonde joke, the story is actually far deeper. This film offers as much comedy as it does heartwarming storytelling and compelling character development. Elle’s character is endearingly flawed, and her over-the-top antics provide plenty of comic relief throughout the film.
Reese Witherspoon is brilliant as Elle Woods, striking the perfect balance between Elle’s dizzy tendencies and sincere intentions. Elle goes through tremendous character development as she transitions from a vapid, self-absorbed college student into a grown woman who knows her own mind and has meaningful goals in life. Another touching aspect of the film is the relationship between Elle and Warner’s fiancée, Vivian. While the two women begin as enemies fighting over the affections of the same man, they eventually become friends who genuinely care for each other. Both women come to realize that they are too good for the shallow and bland Warner, and they step into the spotlight on their own.
Serving as a backdrop to the relationship drama of the film, Elle, Vivian, and Warner are all placed on the same legal defense team for a major court case. Elle is given mostly errand work and told to stay out of the way while her classmates try to defend her idol, a model and fitness video star who is accused of murdering her wealthy husband. In spite of being overlooked by everyone, Elle must find a way to prove her competence and help her client get cleared of charges for a crime Elle is convinced she didn’t commit. As it turns out, Elle may be the only one who believes her story and the only one capable of proving her innocence.
The film is an empowering yet comedic look at the life of one unlikely law school student who proves to herself and to the world that beauty and intelligence are not mutually exclusive qualities. The acting is believable and enhanced by a strong supporting cast, including Luke Wilson and Selma Blair. Matthew Davis gives a great performance as Warner, a character who is truly fun to hate, and Jennifer Coolidge delivers some great one-liners as Elle’s hairstylist and friend, Paulette. With great acting and a unique story, “Legally Blonde” is hard to beat when moviegoers want a heartwarming comedy that delivers on laughs as well as a positive message.