Legally Blonde (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

I guess you know that all movies with Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, and David Spade are exactly alike. They are made for loser guys, and they transport them into a masturbatory fantasy world where the chicks push aside Brad Pitt and the rich, handsome fraternity guys to get to them. 

Also Rodney Dangerfield makes exactly the same movies, except for old loser farts, in which the beer-swillin' regular guy proves to have more class and intelligence than the guys who used to be rich, handsome fraternity guys but are now country club swells and evil stockbrokers. Since this is true, the beautiful women push aside George Clooney to get to Rodney. 


With the exception of "Clueless", there haven't been many Sandler/Dangerfield films for females. This movie is an attempt to fill that same gap, and could easily be called Clueless 2.

The president of the fashion sorority, a virtual encyclopedia of the back issues of Cosmo and Glamour, and an expert on fabulous hair and skin, is dumped by her Harvard-bound boyfriend when he heads off to law school. A rich lawyer has to have the right type of wife after all, someone substantial, not an obvious bimbo who doesn't own anything that is not pink.

Needless to say, it turns out that she's not only a much nicer person, but also a better lawyer than the snobby boyfriend or the snooty professors, (insert plot details from Rodney Dangerfield's "Back to School").

I think I can best sum up whether you'll like this film with an anecdote. I went to see this film with my son. We usually agree on the entertainment value of movies, and we both liked it, thought it was "OK for a girly film". Predictably, the audience consisted of all young women and girls except us. 

If you can sit through this kind of film, it would be an excellent place to pick up chicks, I thought. I once had a friend who used to go to male strip shows. He didn't actually go inside. He'd just wait outside for the show to end, and hundreds of horny women would emerge, many of whom would hit on him in the parking lot. What a sweet scam.

Then I got home and asked my daughter how she liked the film. She thought it was wonderful. She thought it was great to show that you shouldn't judge a woman by her appearance, she thought all the pink stuff was ever so cute, she described this entire movie as "very empowering" and started filling out her application for Harvard Law, whereupon I informed her that she might consider getting through 10th grade chemistry first. 

So I guess the general rules of thumb would be these: 

  • If you are a school-age girl, go to it. You will almost certainly like it. Women rate it 7.9 at IMDb, and women under 18 rate it an astronomical 8.3.

  • If you are a guy, rent and watch "Back to School", which is the exact same movie, except about guys, then go with one of your friends over to the theater that is showing Legally Blonde, and talk to each other outside the doors. Remember to mention that you think it is "empowering". It should work about the same as the strip-show con. If any females try to ask you details about the plot, just brush it aside, or remember what Rodney did. Just remember to say "Reese" instead of "Rodney".


Tuna's comments in yellow

This is one where I slightly disagree with Scoopy. The film started off with Reese Witherspoon as a totally like fabulous sorority president on the day of the date when she expected her Harvard Law School bound boyfriend to propose. Instead, he dumps her. He explains that he intends being a senator, andneeds a wife like Jackie Kennedy, not Marilyn Monroe. She hits on the perfect solution -- go to Harvard Law School and impress him. Not an easy thing to do for a fashion merchandising major, but we learn early on not to underestimate her.

Once in law school, she finds that:
1) She will never be good enough for him
2) Nobody is taking her seriously
3) She just may have what it takes to become a lawyer.

It was at this point that I fell in love with Reese, and started enjoying the film. Even with clothes on, Reese is very easy on the clothes, and nailed this role, which did require some depth. She was surrounded by some very funny people, and freshman director Australian Robert Luketic kept the film on track, and from becoming a Rodney Dangerfield over the top farce.

I found myself laughing out loud in several places, including a bit with a hunk of a UPS man and Reese's manicurist. Audiences related to Reese's  character so much that they had to shoot a new ending showing what happened to her. Most of the Harvard stuff was actually shot in Southern California,  which was handled well by set decorator Katherine Lucas. The film was based  on an autobiographical novel by Amanda Brown, who attended Stanford Law
School. The screenwriters and major cast attended classes at Stanford to help with realism, and Reese spent time at both UCLA and USC sororities researching. USC and UCLA would not give permission to use their acronyms, so the school was called CULA, but, as Director Luketec said, "Harvard had
a sense of humor" and allowed the use of the name.

The DVD has both 4/3 and widescreen version, two commentary tracks, a trivia track, and a second DVD (actually the other side) of out-takes and  making of features. Reese never got naked, and her best exposure was in a video within the film, supposedly her Harvard admittance essay, where she was in a bikini. They distorted that footage to make it look like a home video. She also showed major cleavage in many of her costumes, including a  bunny outfit. Raquel Welch appears in a small part, and looks awfully good  for a 61 year old woman. I wouldn't normally have done images, but they  were requested by a Fun House reader. I agree with Scoops C+, but  personally enjoyed much of the humor in the second half of the film, and was in the mood for a feel good ending.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1 (or watch the full screen version, if you prefer)

  • Full-length director commentary

  • two documentaries

  • eight deleted scenes

Scoopy's note: of the two films with the same plot, "Back to School" and "Legally Blonde", it is the latter which uses farce in order for the hero to triumph over the establishment.

  • Rodney managed to outsmart the professors by actually studying, and he did a good recitation of Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night", which obviously had nothing to do with his former career as a Clothing Store Magnate. The point was that he actually had to learn the assigned material. 
  • Reese, on the other hand, in the equivalent scene, didn't use any knowledge of law, but managed to trick the witness by her knowledge of fashion, which she knew before she ever studied law. Plus, what do you think are the chances that one's knowledge of hair care will be crucial to a murder trial? Improbable, to understate the case.
  • Furthermore, Reese managed to get the witness to confess to the murder that her client was accused of, just like on Perry Mason! How often do you think that happens in real life? Taking a rough guess in the entire history of law from Hammurabi to now, I'd say - rough guess - never. The Back to School "moment of triumph over the academics" was based on a premise that actually could happen, while the Legally Blonde premise was an exaggerated comic fantasy with an improbable plot that could not happen in reality. That is, of course, the definition of farce.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with over-the-top farce. That is a good thing. The greatest comedies ever created generally fall into that category. That's what Blazing Saddles is, and Duck Soup, and Ground Hog Day. Comedies grounded in reality, ala Annie Hall, are the exception rather than the rule. I think Legally Blonde was an entertaining movie, but just because Witherspoon managed to create a role that many people could relate to. She is a star.  The film was "cute".

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: two and a half, almost three stars. Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 2.5/4, Apollo 75/100.

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 67% positive reviews

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.0 
  • With their dollars ... it was a solid hit, taking in $95 million dollars on a budget of $18 million
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. Kind of a specialized niche film - but a very good one simply because of the sheer star power of Reese Witherspoon. Or as my teenage son said, it's good for a girly film.

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