Sunday, November 13, 2011

Legally Blonde (2001)

Seen: On dvd on my tv, recently purchased for $5 at an FYE-ish place in Toronto HMV! Livin' on the cheap!

I've been sort of in the mood to watch this movie for about a year but I never think to buy it. UNTIL NOW. Based on the book by Amanda Brown and penned by the screenwriting team who would sadly later go on to write The House Bunny and The Ugly Truth, Legally Blonde stars Reese Witherspoon as popular and perky sorority president Elle Woods. Dumped by her pretentious wannabe lawyer boyfriend, she enrolls at Harvard Law School to prove to him that she can be the kind of wife he needs to impress his hoity-toity family. She quickly discovers that her bubbly personality, loud fashion, and naivety cause her Harvard peers to snub her- and underestimate her.

Hiding beneath its pink and frivolous facade, Legally Blonde is actually pretty clever and forward-thinking in many ways. Beginning as a desperate forced romance between a supposedly vapid homecoming queen and a bland, stuck-up asshole, it at first seems like an over-the-top romantic comedy. But you know what? Romance is barely a focus here, which is always awesome in any lady-fronted comedy. When you've got Witherspoon's adorable high-pitched antics, Selma Blair making some amazing faces, and Jennifer Coolidge doing anything, there really isn't any need for a romance to bore things up. Sure Luke Wilson makes eyes at Elle, but it's not really a thing.

Side note: It's funny because as the movie progressed I kept thinking, "This should be a musical" and then like 45 minutes later I realized it HAS been turned into a Broadway musical and I've SEEN it. It was sort of unmemorable I guess?

For the most part this movie is all about a determined, smarter-than-she-looks lady out to prove herself highly capable in the scholastic and professional world despite various obstacles. Elle is misjudged and berated simply because she doesn't come off as a typical Harvard smartie-pants. There are some easy fish-out-of-water jokes, because lol she's blonde and pretty but trying to read BOOKS?!?!??! but I pay more attention to Elle's totally awesome put-downs and can-do attitude. Here is a girl I myself would probably judge harshly when I first met her because I myself am basically a snob, so I love that the script spends so much time proving my first impression wrong. She starts off as a caricature of a popular pretty girl, but is quickly established as a multi-dimensional, resourceful, highly capable young woman who just happens to like fashion and parties. I mean fuck it, I could never get into Harvard Law. Elle is goddamn Wonder Woman.

I would probably unabashedly love this movie if not for one huge problematic scene. There's this crazy exaggerated gay stereotype in one of the courtroom segments, and it's not very funny, and completely unnecessary. I don't mind the plot point of "Oh the pool boy's gay, which is why he's probably lying about having an affair with Ali Larter", whatever. But figuring out he's gay because he recognized Elle's Prada shoes? And then the "YOU BITCH" thing with the boyfriend? I don't know, it just seems so dated and out of place in an otherwise open-minded movie. It could be worse I guess, but mostly I just wish that scene wasn't there.

Anyway Legally Blonde is OTHERWISE pretty great. Maybe just fast-forward through that one part. And remember not to judge people just because they're pretty and perky. Sometimes, not everyone is a jerk, you know?

4/5

Pair This Movie With: I'm not sure, maybe Mean Girls- That's got self-actualization but in high school. Or Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead has some similar themes. For more light Reese Witherspoon fare, I admit I'm a fan of Just Like Heaven.

6 comments:

  1. I kinda liked the film but the sequel was terrible. Yet, that was not as bad as watching that film on a fucking cruise ship.

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  2. YOU BITCH!

    Didn't you buy this at the HMV? Don't you people have HMVs?

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  3. I've caught my father watching this, and the sequel, numerous times. Can't say I've ever felt the urge but "Clueless" was a guilty pleasure of mine as a young lad.

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  4. thevoid: I don't remember the sequel very well but yeah it wasn't very good! I guess it was an ill-advised cruise?

    Sasha: No we don't, and I couldn't remember the name of the store I just knew it was vaguely akin to an FYE. Sorry.

    Stuart: Haha I catch my dad watching weird movies like that sometimes too. CLUELESS is one of my all-time favorites so I'd rank it above this, but they're both fun!

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  5. I'm sure many categorize this in the chick flick category but Reese Witherspoon is undeniably wonderful in the film. Great review Alex.

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  6. HMV, I guess, is a Canadian/British thing. I think it stands for "His Master's Voice" but sometimes people joke and call it "Her Majesty's Video". Well, at least I do.

    Also, the "You Bitch!" was not in relation to HMV. That is a separate matter.

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