Balanced between silliness and charm, “Legally Blonde” is a featherweight comedy that’s impossible to dislike… As long as you like Reese Witherspoon! Fortunately I do. Her Elle Woods is so much the star of the film that other actors seem less ‘co-stars’ than ‘cameos’ And ‘set dressing’.
Elle is president of the Delta Nu house on a Los Angeles campus and basks in a general glowing cloud of pink, fragrant approval. She is the treasured guru, dispensing advice on grooming, hair care and accessorising. Her perfect grade point average in her fashion major is an inspiration to the other girls. Her perfect boyfriend, Warner Huntington III, is about to propose any day now…
Except he isn’t!
The bastard actually wants to break up with our lovely girl! He plans to be a senator by the time he’s 30, he explains, and for that career path, “I need to marry a Jackie, not a Marilyn.” The very nerve! Outraged and striking a blow for womankind everywhere, Elle decides to follow Warner to Harvard law school and shame him with her brilliance! Because women can wear pink and still have brains, thank you very much.
The film takes an unexpected track by having Elle’s ‘fish out of water’ status be not the one for dumb humour or bawdy comedy, but instead a commentary for how often we judge by appearances and what we might be missing by doing so.
Elle is taken on as an intern by the famous Prof. Callahan and is assigned to help him in the case of a famous weight-loss consultant who is accused of murdering her much older husband. She smashes it. Obviously. Although the defence hinges on such matters as whether a Delta Nu would sleep with a man who wears a thong, and the chemistry of perms. Don’t think that means she has merely caught a lucky break and her air headed personality is suited only to this case- she is still bright enough to make fast connections and her witty responses display a penetrating intelligence alongside a gift for interpersonal skill. This film is about smart blondes, not dumb ones.
Despite not having the greatness of “Clueless”- which it clearly wishes to be a collegiate version of- Legally Blonde is warm, funny and doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s no wonder it has become a modern classic! Elle and her cute dog joining the boringly conventional world of Harvard law doesn’t pressure her into changing who she is but instead shows how resourceful and intelligent a bubbly girl can be. Juxtaposed with Selma Blair as Warner’s new girlfriend, the audience sees that intelligent women come in many forms and they all get to have fun!