Montreal Film Journal


Like, ohmygod! Here's a movie which, while being a fun little harmless comedy, turns out to also have some genuine depth behind all the pink faux fur, pop music, manicure sessions and dumb blonde humor. In fact, "Legally Blonde" goes on to illustrate its own morale : you mustn't pass judgment based on first impressions. This might look like yet another stupid teen comedy, but it's not. And though Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) appears to be a totally clueless Valley girl, well... Okay, so she is indeed a ditzy, spoiled Beverly Hills brat with very blonde hair who's always giggling, who wears over-the-top pastel numbers, who carries her pet Chihuahua in her purse and who's life revolves around sorority parties, shopping and make-up. But then one night, her boyfriend Warner Huntington III (Matthew Davis) dumps her on the grounds that he's bound for great things like taking his father's seat in the Senate, and he needs a wife-to-be who's "a Jackie, not a Marilyn". This revelation shocks Elle at first, but then she decides to do something about it, setting out to get into Harvard Law School and prove that she can be serious!

Now you're thinking okay, here it comes, a fish-out-water comedy about a frivolous L.A. blonde going to school with snobbish Boston kids and teachers. And I haven't even told you about how, through oh so convenient circumstances, Elle ends up working on a big murder trial with a legal team which also includes Warner and his new girlfriend, bitchy brunette Vivian (Selma Blair). Sounds like material which would have felt old in the 80s, I know, but there's a but: the movie has a few saving graces. First, though it's filled with many a cliché and easy joke, Kirsten Smith and Karen McCullah Lutz' script (based on the novel by Amanda Brown) is lively and hilarious at times, and it's got a big heart; the happy end nearly made me shed a few tears of joy! Combine that to how director Robert Luketic and his costume and set designers never run out of ridiculously flashy clothes and accessories (few movies actually get laughs from props!) and it's hard not to like the movie.

Last but not least is Reese Witherspoon, whose performance makes the film. I just love her! She's gorgeous, she's funny, and she can act too! Though her turn here is not on the level of "Election", I like the way Elle's giddiness and naiveté are never exaggerated into mean caricature. Elle has real charm, even though at first you dismiss her as shallow, but as the story unfolds, you start to see that she might just be smarter than the people around her who take themselves so seriously. Turns out she does have brains, which she showcases by doing wonders in court, but she doesn't let them get in the way of having some mindless fun at times, which sums up the movie pretty well. In any case, how can a movie which sets out to argue against Aristotle's theory that "The law is reason free of passion" be deemed dumb and inconsequential? As if!