on July 14, 2001
Let me begin by saying I am not normally a fan of the "Clueless" type character, but this is far from what I expected going into this movie. Reese Witherspoon's character "Elle" is a sweet, funny, smart and completely likeable character and has you caring for her and rooting for her to win and prove everyone wrong. After being dumped by her boyfriend Warner because he thought she wasn't smart enough for a future lawyer or senator, she follows him to Harvard determined to win him back. While she struggles with fitting in, she slowly wins over several of her classmates, and proves she is no dumb blonde. This movie is fun, and well worth seeing. I was skeptical about this movie, but don't let the trailer and bad critic reviews turn you off of this bright and funny film.
on August 7, 2006
I've been reviewing items for Amazon for a little over a year and a half, now. One of the things that I still don't quite understand is how Amazon picks its "Spotlight Reviews."
Sometimes those Reviews are great. But, sometimes...
Okay. Here are excerpts from the current Spotlight Reviews for this film (though they may be different by the time you read this):
"I was disappointed by this film. I was hoping it was going to be a satire, a la 'Clueless'. When I realized in the first 15 minutes or so that it was not, then I at least hoped it would be funny in any kind of way (e.g. dumb funny). Well, it didn't even do that.[...]" -- First Spotlight Review
"As a blonde myself, I really should have been offended by this feature-length blonde joke, but hey, this flick is first-rate fluff.[...]The script is surprisingly smart for fluff and is a huge reason for the success of this extended blonde joke. For mindless entertainment, you can't beat this film. 'Legally Blonde' is one of those guilty pleasures you might hate to admit having. Remember, you can always watch it in the privacy of your own home[...]." -- Second Spotlight Review (from a "Top 100 Reviewer" no less)
Maybe it's me.
But I don't think that either of these two reviewers get this film. Legally Blonde is not a movie trying to make fun of blondes. What would even be the point of that? Nor is it a "dumb comedy," nor is it trying to be. It is not an extended blonde joke. It is not mindless. Nor is, as the second above reviewer mentioned in her write-up, the main character (Elle) mindless.
In fact, the point of the film is that she has a mind. The point is that, despite being blonde and pretty, she still has other skills and abilities (and an incredible amount of compassion and kindness) that people unfairly overlook or dismiss. This is a movie with a heart, a mind, and, my friends, a message. The message isn't devastatingly clever or anything like that, but it's a good, solid one, nonetheless. And, it appears to have been too subtle for the reviewers quoted above.
Usually, this kind of movie is about a nerd or other outcast who falls in love with a beauty and gets unfairly discriminated against by the popular kids on account of his appearance, etc. This is the exact same film, except the roles are reversed. In this movie, the beautiful, pampered prima-donna is trying her darndest to fit in with the smart kids (the nerds) but is constantly rejected on the basis of the same sorts of shallow, prejudicial judgements from which they typically suffer. When she competes for an internship, everyone assumes that she won't have the brains to pull it off. When she gets that internship based on her skills, people assume that she must have slept her way to the top. Along the way, she is constantly humiliated and made fun of, on a large part based on the color of her hair and the way she dresses. We're not supposed to be laughing at her, people; we're supposed to be sympathizing with her (unless, like the cruel "nerds" she encounters, we're too tied up in people's looks).
Whether or not you're particularly receptive to it, this movie is trying to say that we all suffer from rejection, ostracization and prejudice--even the pretty and popular.
Even though the Spotlight Reviews here on Amazon might not reflect the fact, this is not a "mindless extended blonde-joke," nor is it a failed Clueless; this is a story about an outsider fighting for love and struggling to fit in, and yes, she happens to be blonde and pretty and wear lots of pink. To understand it, I guess, requires at least as much heart as the film was made with.
on November 11, 2001
Poor Elle... her boyfriend has just dumped her, forcing her to relinguish her glamorous Los Angeles lifestyle to pursue a career in law at Harvard Law School. No one likes her; she feels despondent and alone... what's a girl to do? Why, get a manicure, of course!
In "Legally Blonde," one might expect voracious amounts of high-pitched voices, pouting, and out-of-nowhere remarks and comments that have become the constituent image for blondes everywhere. The movie includes all of these things, no doubt, but somehow manages to cast them in a witty and extremely humorous light, while also possessing a heart and soul that are easy to relate to. It's a priceless comedic gem, and gave me every reason to fall into its spell.
In a performance that is easily likeable and irresistibly charming, Reese Witherspoon plays Elle Woods, who hopes to be accepted to Harvard Law School to prove to her ex-boyfriend that she's not too stupid to be a lawyer's wife. With a 4.0 grade average, a fashion major from CULA, and a video essay featuring herself and others in bikinis (a tactic made funnier by the fact that she doesn't realize the effect she will have on the all-male board at Harvard), she is accepted, and arrives intent on winning back her man.
Of course, things are not all parties and homecomings, and she soon discovers that no one really cares to be around her. Former prospective fiancé Warner is now engaged to the snotty Vivian Kensington, leaving Elle's plans in the cold. With no one to turn to except for Paulette, a manicurist with low self esteem, Elle decides to take life into her own hands, and quickly learns the tricks of the trade at Harvard.
This is where the movie takes on a personality much like its main character. By setting out to prove her worth as a law student, Elle shows a determination full of energy and real drive. By doing so, she becomes more than just the stereotypical blonde bombshell everyone sees her as, and in allowing her character to expand, the movie generates into something more than just an average teen comedy.
The laughs are almost non-stop, filled with a sense of humor that has great taste and tact. Much of this has to do with the movie's mockery of all things blonde, while at the same time embracing them so that the humor isn't hurtful or insulting. From pinks skirts and high heels, to a fuzzy phone and a Chihuahua that she dresses in matching outfits, Elle's persona is a riotous display of the typical air-headedness given an atypical treatment through the display of her kindness.
Her gentle nature and her unwillingness to give it up also gives the feel-good factor a shot in the arm of confidence. The movie covers just about every lesson you can think of, from friendship and broken hearts, to first appearances and loyalty, and takes on a moral that is good, clean fun without being overly sentimental. Take the scene in which Elle helps Paulette stand up to her ex-husband. Elle uses her technical language to completely confuse him and retrieve Paulette's dog, and the scene becomes funny and touching at the same time.
The sheer joy and glee one gets from watching a movie like this can be the result of nothing less than satisfaction. It brought a smile to my face and laughter to my heart, and gave me a warm feeling inside that most comedies cannot. "Legally Blonde" never oversteps the bounds of good humor, nor is it ever too saccharine for its own good. If nothing else, it proves the age-old saying that blondes do have more fun.
on April 6, 2002
Buy this movie! Seriously, it is one of the best movies I have ever seen, and most of my friends and family fully support that opinion. So take a chance and buy it!
Reese Witherspoon makes a steller performance as Elle Woods, a drop-dead gorgeous blonde, ditzy as can be, who basically comes to one day and decides to attend Harvard Law School. Why? Because becoming a law student is the only way to win back the love of Warner Huntington III (played by hunk Matthew Davis). And suprisingly, she manages to convince the Harvard admittance committee that her brains . . . or assets . . . will make her an excellent addition to the school. Once she gets to Harvard, however, Elle is shocked to learn that everyone does NOT love her. She faces hard classes for which she is expected to prepare, a professor who tosses her out of class, and finally discovers that Warner got engaged over the summer to a preppy Eastern girl. But Elle is up to the challenge, rocketing to stardom even as a 1L (first-year law student to those not in the club).
My 5-star recommendation comes from my love of a good lawyer joke, and the ability to laugh at our profession. And this movie definitely does that. You get to see that law school is filled with tough classes, hard profs, nasty law students, and stretching one to one's limits. But you also see a woman with a truly good heart rise above all the pettiness she faces, and succeed by being true to herself. A truly enjoyable time for everyone watching.
.... ...my friend Joyce and I went ...and had a grand time. The number one reason to see the movie is Reese Witherspoon. I've been watching her since her first film, "Man In the Moon," a solid dramatic movie. She showed incredible talent in that film, that continued to show itself in every film of hers to date. This is Witherspoon acting on the entire other end of the spectrum, in very broad comedy, and she pulls it off. She plays Elle, a beauty queen, sorority president and blonde Bel Aire, CA, girl who everyone assumes is a dumb blonde. However, she has a 4.00, albeit in fashion merchandising. When her boyfirend dumps her because she doesn't fit his image for his girlfriend while he's going to Harvard Law School, she applies to the same school and gets in with her 4.0 and high LSATs. She shows up with all of her sorority sensibility and frou frou clothing and accessories and becomes the butt of all the intellectuals' (everyone elses') jokes. How can she get her former boyfriend to see her as an equal at Harvard and will she want him when she does? This is the jist of the movie and it stretches credibility greatly. However, it is a great comic vehicle for Witherspoon and she milks it for all it is worth. When we saw it, it was the #1 movie in the USA and I was so glad that all of her solid work over the years had finally paid off in an enormous hit for her.
As a blonde myself, I really should have been offended by this feature-length blonde joke, but hey, this flick is first-rate fluff. Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) is a self-absorbed sorority president and fashion major who expects to marry her college sweetheart Warner (Matthew Davis). When Warner dumps her because she isn't the perfect accompaniment to his expected Harvard Law degree (too much Marilyn Monroe and not enough Jackie Kennedy), her whole world crashes around her until the solution hits her: Why doesn't she become the woman Warner wants by following him to Harvard Law School? To Elle, who has a specialty in The History of Polka Dots, this seems like a no-brainer, and since she doesn't seem to know how to use her brain, the hilarity begins. She manages to get into Harvard through a brazen video, great LSAT's (for which she actually studied), and by stunning every last member of the admissions committee.
Who cares about realism when you've got a clueless blonde mixing with over-achieving, nerdy law students? The always popular Elle becomes the class outcast, with a tongue-tied, good-hearted manicurist (played memorably by Jennifer Coolidge) as her only friend. Director Luketic deserves enormous credit for keeping Elle's core personality intact despite the intellectual transformation; the sight of her colorful iMac in the sea of charcoal gray laptops is pitch-perfect as a symbol of her increasing seriousness but unwillingness to give into the nerd culture. In her sorority house, Elle is but one of many blondes. At Harvard, she is an individualist.
This film is completely preposterous and doesn't care - that's the fun of it. Although the eventual triumph of Elle is predictable, how she gets there is not, making this film enjoyable every step of the way. The script is surprisingly smart for fluff and is a huge reason for the success of this extended blonde joke.
For mindless entertainment, you can't beat this film. "Legally Blonde" is one of those guilty pleasures you might hate to admit having. Remember, you can always watch it in the privacy of your own home where no one but your closest relatives can hear you laugh at the antics of Elle Woods.
on July 14, 2001
Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) is a perky, popular blonde who expects her boyfriend will propose to her the night the movie starts but instead he dumps her because he thinks she's not smart enough and he'll need a smart woman if he wants to run for political office by the time he's 30. Elle loves him and figures the way to get him back is to prove to him that she's smart and to do that, she figures the perfect way would be to get into Harvard Law School where coincidentally her now ex-boyfriend is going. She takes an exam and makes a video for Harvard to see. Surprisingly, she ends up getting in. She doesn't fit in there since her Harvard class-mates are more laid back with their clothing and attitude then Elle is. Elle finds out that her ex-boyfriend has dumped her for a girl that he dated before her. He even calls his new girl the pet name that he used for Elle right in front of Elle. Still Elle is determined to win her man back. To do that, she applies for and gets an internship with her professor's law firm. Her ex-boyfriend and his current girlfriend are on the team too. They help in a case of a woman accused of killing her husband. The woman accused of murder is the person who used to teach Elle's exercise class. Elle knows she's innocent but no one on the team thinks so. Can Elle save her former exercise teacher and prove to her ex-boyfriend, her Harvard Law associates and herself that she's not a dumb blonde? She had gotten straight As and was articulate. If she had been doing poorly and was a bad speaker and then suddenly improved when she got into Harvard, it would have been less believable though a fashion major getting in Harvard Law is still a stretch. It's a very cute movie. It seemed like it could have even gotten a G rating. It might have had a couple profanities but that was it. No sex or violence. The movie was much better than I thought it would be. It was cleverly written in some parts and Reese Witherspoon gave a great performance in it.
on December 17, 2001
I will confess to a prejudice in favor of this movie: having worked at Harvard for six years as a non-tenure-track junior faculty member, I love to see that tweedy, stuffy old institution take a good skewering, and Reese Witherspoon gives it one in this very entertaining if totally implausible comedy. Reese is Elle Wood, the beautiful Valley Girl whom no one will take seriously because she's too pretty and fashion-conscious for somber, earnest Cambridge, MA, and because her main object in attending law school -- at least when she first arrives -- is to win back her snobbish ex-boyfriend. Will Elle discover that law is her true calling? Will she turn out to be brilliant? Will she amaze everyone in a courtroom scene? Are you kidding, does the sun rise in the east? The courtroom scene is about as plausible as the idea that she'd be allowed to keep her pet Chihuahua in a university residence hall, but hey, who cares?
Part of the fun, if you've ever been near Harvard, is that although the Cambridge types are caricatured, they're not exaggerated all that much. I've met the brilliant, eccentric guy with a facial tic, the militant feminist, and a lot of others there. And though I'm no California fashion plate, I was labeled and dismissed as a frivolous female, too, for posting cartoons on my door and having a copy of the Miss Piggy Art Treasures calendar. So it's great to be vicariously vindicated by the beautiful Ms. Witherspoon.
on July 31, 2001
Sure, I'm a guy. I was dragged to this movie by my girlfriend, kicking and screaming. Actually, I wasn't exactly "kicking and screaming," since I have a major crush on the film's star, Reese Witherspoon, but I had no desire of seeing it in a summer filled with "Pearl Harbor" and "A.I." and "Planet of the Apes."
I was resoundingly surprised.
"Legally Blonde" is one of the most refreshing films I have seen. It mixes the goofy, colorful hipness of "Clueless" with the legal satire of "My Cousin Vinny" and, I must say, the inspirational power of films such as "Hoosiers" and "Rudy."
Reese Witherspoon is a delight in her first "real" starring role. Sure, she's a household name, known for her roles in "Fear" and "Pleasantville." But this film belongs to her. She's in all but one or two scenes, and she carries the film with the aplomb of a major star. Everyone's always gushing about Julia Roberts--"Oh, Julia this, Julia that. Julia's so great." No...Reese is where it's at.
I am often called a movie snob by my friends, always loving the high-brow, intellectual films. But I must say, this movie touched me. I loved it from frame one to the end. It is colorful, hilarious, and it rises above the typical "teen movie" banality.
I recommend this film to anyone. I only give it four stars because I hold the fifth star for movies like "A.I." and, well, films like "The Godfather" and "Citizen Kane."
I think that's a pretty high compliment for this film. I had a smile on my face for its entire running time. If you don't see it in the theater, you better race to Blockbuster the day it comes out on video and rent it.
P.S. Perfect date movie--if there ever is one.
on August 13, 2002
I suspect one's gut reaction to "Legally Blonde" may hinge upon two things: fondness (or lack thereof) for Reese Witherspoon and her frothy LA sorority girl character, to whom this film entirely belongs; and any personal experience with college and/or law school that allows the predictable script to seem funnier or more believeable than it is.
The plot is a variation of the fish-out-of-water theme and offers few surprises but some mild laughs. Witherspoon creates a very credible proto-bimbette, and her dynamic expressions and careful timing wring the most out of every line and reaction. But there isn't anything very challenging about the film's message of "Just be yourself" as a key to success and happiness -- all fine and good when you have money, beauty, and privilege, as Witherspoon's "Elle Woods" does. What Elle is forced to discover in the course of her Harvard Law School adventure is that she has a brain as well, and this along with one massively convenient plot twist after another allows Miss Woods to conquer all by film's end (which is itself the most outrageously convenient and smiley-faced section of the movie).
I'll be generous and grant three stars to "Legally Blonde" because it is occasionally clever and has a good heart (like our chirpy heroine) and because Witherspoon is a genuine comedic talent -- comparisons being made to a young Goldie Hawn are, if anything, understated, with Reese showing a much wider range at a far younger age. She is going to have a long and fantastic career, no doubt about it. But this movie is unchallenging and ultimately as filling as a big hank of cotton candy. Nothing wrong with that, but it's no solid meal. And sad to say, in real life, sororities and fraternities are not nearly as egalitarian, supportive, or sweet-natured as depicted in this fantasyland, and the Elle Woods who reside within them are more likely to be intolerant, smug, and elitist jerks and bullies -- just like the villains of this picture, not the good guys. Such is the skewed, rosey-eyed worldview of "Legally Blonde" -- no wonder Elle wears so much pink!