|Legally Blonde: Fun for Brunettes Too|
Artists Studios (DVD), ASIN B00005O5CM
Reese Witherspoon, in a star-making performance, plays Elle Woods, a fashion merchandising major at the fictional California University of Los Angeles. President of her sorority, she lives a fantasy girly-girl existence, at the peak of which she expects an engagement ring from her pretty-boy beau, Warner Huntington III (Matthew Davis). When Warner abruptly dumps her just before graduation, explaining that he needs a more serious, "less blonde" potential wife to help secure his future in politics, Elle refuses to accept his betrayal.
After moping in front of the TV for several days, picking through boxes of chocolates, Elle bounces back with a revelation: she'll attend Harvard Law School also, to show Warner she can be the kind of woman he needs. With the unflagging support of her sorority sisters, Elle manages to pass the LSATs and ensures her acceptance by creating and submitting an unintentionally hilarious, naively sexy, video admissions essay.
Elle arrives at law school, the proverbial fish out of water. Her sunny California demeanor and candy-colored wardrobe make her an immediate object of derision amongst her brainy, drab classmates. Unprepared for the grind, Elle gets kicked out of her very first class. Worst of all, when she encounters Warner, she also meets his new fiancée, a cold-eyed, hostile classmate named Vivian Kensington (Selma Blair). Fortunately for Elle, she repeatedly encounters Emmett Richmond (Luke Wilson), a cute but mysterious Big Man on Campus, whose friendly advice helps her master the complexities of law school survival.
Elle's life turns around when she finally realizes that Warner doesn't respect her. After he condescendingly tells her she should forget about law school, because "you're not smart enough, sweetie," Elle sets out to prove him wrong. In the process, she discovers that her brains surpass her beauty, and she develops into a wonderfully non-stereotypical character. Neither conceited nor weak, she triumphs because of her intrinsic decency and because she learns to play to her strengths. She wins the admiration of others, including Vivian, through her integrity and ingenuity.
Legally Blonde's plot becomes secondary to its messages -- strong messages about principles, courage, and conviction. Yet the whole package comes wrapped in such an infectious air of wide-eyed, good-natured goofiness that the movie never feels preachy. Lapses in realism are easily forgiven, mostly because the truly adorable Witherspoon radiates conviction, and the audience can't help but root for her spunky heroine. Wilson overcomes one of the worst hairdos in leading-man history to charm both Elle and the audience in a small but important role as the man who believes in Elle and ultimately wins her heart for the right reasons. This movie definitely justifies the rental fee…and even overdue fines.
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