LEGALLY BLONDE 2: RED, WHITE & BLONDE
**** (out of 5)
July 2, 2003
Reese Witherspoon as ELLE WOODS
Sally Field as REP. RUDD
Bob Newhart as SIGNEY POST
Luke Wilson as EMMETT RICHMOND
Jennifer Coolidge as PAULETTE BONAFONTE
Regina King as GRACE STOTERAUX
Directed by: Charles Herman-Wurmfeld
BY KEVIN CARR
I couldn’t help myself. I just couldn’t help myself. I liked this movie.
“Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde” has an underlying charm that drags its audience, kicking and screaming to have a good time. And it’s not just me. I went to the film with a friend of mine who was hoping and praying it would be a stinker. (He knows some of the people who worked on the film and desperately wanted to see them fail.) However, when the movie was over, he begrudgingly admitted that he actually had a good time.
Of course, if you don’t like Reese Witherspoon – if she does for you what Gary Shandling, Rosie O’Donnell and Gwyneth Paltrow do for me – than chances are, you’re gonna hate this film. But if you come to the table with no Reese prejudice, it’s a really cute movie.
After graduating from Harvard Law School, sorority girl Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) works at a top-class law film in Boston. She’s engaged to law professor Emmett Richmond (Luke Wilson), her beau from the first film. However, when trying to track down the mother of Bruiser, her pet chihuahua, so she can send a wedding invitation, she learns that the dog is a lab animal for a cosmetics company.
After unsuccessfully trying to free Bruiser’s mom, Elle heads to Washington to lobby for “Bruiser’s Bill,” a ban on animal testing in the cosmetics industry. There, the world tries to feed her a healthy dose of reality, but Elle ignores it and forges ahead with her hot-pink wardrobe and winning smile. Eventually, she manages to teach a lesson to the harsh world of Washington politics – from the cantankerous chair of the Senate committee to the ultra-conservative NRA mouthpiece.
Now, is this premise so sickeningly sweet, it makes you want to puke? Sure. Is it a vacuous feel-good piece akin to eating a vat of cotton candy? Definitely. But like I said before, I just couldn’t help but liking it.
The film gets off to a rocky start, but if you’re gonna have a weak act, it’s best to have it first. After all , how many times have you seen a film that had a great beginning and then sucked at the end? Once Elle Woods gets to Washington, things start to take off, and I really couldn’t help but liking her.
“Legally Blonde 2” is clearly a vehicle for Reese Witherspoon and nobody else. Even other names that show up in the film – like Luke Wilson, Sally Field and Bob Newhart – take the back seat. Hollywood is grooming Witherspoon to be the next Julia Roberts, and it seems to be working. It’s hard to believe that only three short years ago, she was just the girlfriend in “American Psycho.”
For me, Reese was cool, but the real breakout funny performance came from Jennifer Coolidge as Paulette Bonafonté, the undersexed hairdresser from the first film. Coolidge is one of the most underrated comedic talents of the day. Many will remember her from the Christopher Guest films “Best in Show” and “A Mighty Wind.” In “Legally Blonde 2,” Coolidge ends up with some of the best lines and funniest moments.
One annoyance in this film (and a growing trend in films in general) is crappy green-screen work. “Green screens?” you ask. “Why do they need green screens in a light comedy like this?” Apparently, Hollywood now uses a green screen as a background instead of enduring high location costs or building sets. I’ve seen this sort of things in films like “Anger Management” and “Charlie’s Angels 2,” and frankly it’s starting to get really annoying.
In “Legally Blonde 2,” green screens are used to put Elle Woods et al into the U.S. Senate chambers as well as to shoot in the Lincoln Monument, among other places. There was a time in the not-so-distant past when they actually put actors in their own locations. I would imagine that if MGM could fork over $15 million to Reese Witherspoon for an acting salary on this film, they could afford to fly her to Washington D.C. and pay the location fee for the Lincoln Memorial.
Still, it’s films like this that make things easy on us guys. If you have a wife or girlfriend, here’s the plan – pitch a fit about being dragged to see “Legally Blonde 2.” Refuse to go. Threaten to break up. But then finally give in, only if your significant other agrees to go see one of the macho flicks of the summer, like “Terminator 3” or “The Matrix: Reloaded.”