Six Reasons To Go “Legally Blonde”

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IMDb

I know any guys reading this might be groaning already, so this post is probably for the ladies. Come to think of it, some of the ladies might groan, too. *wicked chuckle* 😉

Anyway, Legally Blonde is twenty years old today. How time does fly.

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For those who aren’t familiar with the plot, it’s simply this: California girl and Delta Nu sorority president Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) thinks her engagement to her longtime boyfriend, the Harvard Law-bound Warner Huntington (Matthew Davis) is in the bag. Everything about her life is perfect and this isn’t going to be any different.

Not so fast, Elle. Warner takes Elle to a nice restaurant, builds her up, calls her pet names, and then dumps her because he wants to be a senator by the time he’s thirty and Elle isn’t serious enough. Too much Marilyn and not enough Jackie.

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Elle is devastated, but she does what any girl would do when she wants the love of her life back (OK, maybe not): She passes the LSATs with flying colors, films a killer video for her entrance essay, and gets into Harvard Law. It’s all about location, location, location, and if Warner can see she is serious, he’s sure to reneg on their breakup.

Of course, Elle has no idea what she’s let herself in for. Law school means having the reading done before class, being prepared to answer questions on the spot, and think under pressure. Students giggle in her direction, especially when she pulls out her cute little heart-shaped notepad and feathery pen to take notes. As if all of this isn’t enough, she finds out Warner is engaged to Vivian Kensington (Selma Blair), a prim, preppy East Coaster with a hate-on for Elle.

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However, Elle gets mad enough that she buys an Apple iBook and really starts to dig in. She also makes friends with Emmett (Luke Wilson), Professor Callaghan’s (Victor Garber) assistant and Paulette (Jennifer Coolidge), a manicurist with a thing for the UPS guy.

When Elle wins an internship at her professor’s law firm, she’s got to bring it more than anyone expects, including herself, especially when a fellow Delta Nu is on trial for murder.

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The movie was based on a book by Amanda Brown, a former Stanford law student who realized a week into her first semester that she was bored out of her skull, so she started writing letters to her friends describing all of the characters she saw at school. After a few months, she had the three hundred pages which became the basis for Legally Blonde.

The funny thing about the book is that it was optioned before it was published, since it was sent to both markets on the same day. MGM finally won out, with Mark Platt producing, Robert Luketic directing, and Karen McCullah and Kristen Smith writing the screenplay.

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Amanda Brown. (SFGATE)

What’s even funnier is that a lot of the bits in the movie were based on Brown’s real-life experiences. Brown’s manuscript was written on pink, scented paper with a fuzzy pen. There was even a woman at Stanford who, like the movie’s Enid Wexler (Meredith Scott Lynn), aggressively campaigned to have the word, “semester” changed to “ovester” because feminism.

So why is this seemingly silly, girly movie worth checking out? Or checking out again? Well, let’s see here…

Elle Woods.

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I think Elle is one of the nicest characters to come out of the early twenty-first century. She’s fun, she’s a sweetheart, she enjoys fashion, she’s great at being herself, and she’s really good at making friends. She’s also good at making jaws drop because people don’t peg her as smart and driven.

The fashion.

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It was 2001 before 9-11, so everything was glossy, sparkly, and filmy. The movie gives a pretty good survey of what people wore back then, high fashion or otherwise, so everything from Paulette’s Bongo vest to Elle’s Gucci, Prada, and Versace everything gets a nod. And there are oodles of hairstyles. I’ve heard of people watching the movie just to count Elle’s hairdos (40, in case anyone was wondering).

The Bend and Snap.

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Not that I’ve ever tried this (I haven’t), but it seems a whole lot classier than twerking.

It’s more intelligent than it looks.

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This movie has a way of clicking along and then blindsiding its audience with phrases like ammonium thiglycolate. This will only make sense if you’ve seen Legally Blonde.

Seriously, though, a lot of effort went into making Legally Blonde passably legit. Screenwriters Smith and McCullah audited actual law classes, including reading the textbooks, which fried their brains but got them immersed in the language and habits of the law school world. All of it got worked into the movie.

Not only that, but every character gets their chance to shine, even if they seem ditzy on the surface. Well, except for Warner, who’s a heel all the way through.

The balance of the sexes.

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One of the things I really like about Legally Blonde is that it doesn’t have the guys acting stupid and incompetent so the women can excel. If a character is dopey or jerky, they’re dopey or jerky regardless of sex. Elle and Emmett in particular are equals. They challenge each other, they complement each other, and they let each other breathe. It’s refreshing and not often seen in movies.

Sometimes you just need some good old bubbly fun.

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Granted, yes, there are some things the movie got wrong, like the courtroom scene, which, again, I won’t spoil. A real lawyer wouldn’t address the jury, for instance. Asking leading questions when grilling a witness is generally frowned on, too. A scene in which Elle poses as Paulette’s lawyer probably would have torched her legal career before it started. And most law schools don’t accept videos in place of written essays.

In the end, though, Legally Blonde is not meant to be taken too seriously. It’s pink, scented escapism with enough smarts to keep it from drowning in silliness. And that’s all good.

Another review is coming in a few days. Thanks for reading, all…


Legally Blonde is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Amazon.

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