In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_large_ff2ufvphien2szdtsmjflh03efz

Dear White People

You could make a (film geek) party game out of guessing director Justin Simien's influences, but his vision seems to spring directly from what's up…

Thumb_10687421_10152289281917007_4858446204490388004_o

Private Violence

A look at the complexity of domestic violence, especially when it comes to the difficulty of prosecuting abusers in a court of law, "Private Violence"…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives

Reviews

Legally Blonde

  |  

"Legally Blonde" is a featherweight comedy balanced between silliness and charm. It is impossible to dislike, although how much you like it may depend on your affection for Reese Witherspoon. She is so much the star of the movie that the other actors seem less like co-stars than like partners in an acting workshop, feeding her lines. They percolate, she bubbles.

Witherspoon plays Elle Woods, named perhaps for the magazine, perhaps because the word means "she" in French. Work on that pun a little more, and you could name the movie "The Vengeance of Elle," since Elle gets her revenge on the stuck-up snob who dumps her, and thus inspires a brilliant legal career.

We meet Elle as she basks in general approval as president of the Delta Nu house on a Los Angeles campus. She moves in a cloud of pink, dispensing advice on grooming, hair care and accessorizing; she has a perfect grade point average in her major, which is fashion. She thinks Warner Huntington III (Matthew Davis) plans to propose to her, but actually he wants to break up. 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." Outraged, Elle determines to follow Warner to Harvard law school and shame him with her brilliance. And so she does, more or less, after being taken on as an intern by the famous Prof. Callahan (Victor Garber) and assigned to help him in the case of a famous weight-loss consultant (Ali Larter) accused of murdering her much older husband. The defense hinges on such matters as whether a Delta Nu would sleep with a man who wears a thong, and the chemistry of perms.

Witherspoon effortlessly animated this material with sunshine and quick wit. Despite the title and the implications in the ads, this is a movie about smart blonds, not dumb ones, and she is (I think) using her encyclopedic knowledge of fashion and grooming to disguise her penetrating intelligence. On the other hand, maybe not; maybe it's just second nature for her to win a client's confidence by visiting her in prison with Calvin Klein sheets, Clinique skin care products and the latest issue of Cosmo.

I smiled a lot during the movie, laughed a few times, was amused by the logic of the court case. "Legally Blonde" is not a great movie (not comparable with "Clueless," which it obviously wants to remind us of, or Witherspoon's own wonderful "Election"). But Witherspoon is a star, and the movie doesn't overstay its welcome. It also contains at least one line I predict will enter the repertory: Elle Woods is asked, "A spa? Isn't that kind of like your mother ship?"

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

"1941": An Appreciation and Interview with Bob Gale

An appreciation of "1941" and interview with Bob Gale.

NYFF 2014: Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice”

A review of Paul Thomas Anderson's "Inherent Vice" from the 2014 New York Film Festival.

Interview: Cary Elwes on the Lasting Power of “The Princess Bride”

An interview with Cary Elwes about "The Princess Bride."

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus