- Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods
- Luke Wilson as Emmett Richmond
- Selma Blair as Vivian Kensington
- Matthew Davis as Warner Huntington
- Victor Garber as Professor Callahan
- Jennifer Coolidge as Paulette
- Ali Larter as Brooke Taylor-Windham
A glossy comedy that like the main character is a lot more than it seems at first glance, Legally Blonde is a splendidly funny and endearing ode to proving people wrong and doing it with some serious style.
Elle Woods is the typical sorority queen; pretty, stylish and absorbed in a world of magazines and parties. She seems to have the ideal boyfriend in Warner Huntington( the rich son of a governor) and as the movie opens, she believes he is going to propose to her. Instead he dumps her because he is going off to Harvard and doesn’t see his future with her because he wants to be with a girl he considers smart and acceptable(as well as one his wealthy family would appreciate). Devastated, Elle is at a loss of what to do before she has an idea to win Warner back. As he’s going off to Harvard, Elle makes it her mission to get in and show him that she’s the one. With a mix of guile and surprising smarts, Elle is accepted to Harvard but it isn’t going to be plain sailing for her. She had to contend with ridicule and scorn aimed at her by her peers, particularly Warner’s snotty new girlfriend Vivian Kensington. Determined to prove everyone wrong, Elle gets her head down and buries herself in study. Surprisingly to everyone else, she begins to display an aptitude for law and begins to shine. When one of the professors is defending a client on a murder trial, he enlists the help of some of his students, one of them being a surprised Elle. With help from good-hearted Emmett Richmond, who sees potential in her and a slowly growing belief from within herself, Elle aims for success. But can Elle finally be taken seriously by those who have written her off?
Director Robert Luketic, in what was his directorial debut, excellently crafts this an amusing and quietly inspiring film. His direction makes the most of the story and adroitly displays Elle’s unexpected journey from Valley Girl to young woman who is taken seriously by the snotty elite. Visually and in story, Legally Blonde is fuzzy and light, yet this belies the funny fish out of water story and the theme of showing everyone you can achieve. Yes there are parts of the film that are routine and we’ve seen some instances of before, but you’ll be having too much fun to pick up on a few minor skirmishes on a frothy and fun movie. As much as Legally Blonde is a comedy, sympathy is generated for Elle because of writing that makes us relate to her and strive with her for acknowledgment from those who feel the need to be doubtful. Though Elle is not as dizzy as everyone makes out even in the beginning. She is a little naive but has smarts, though these mainly consist of fashion and style before giving way to more difficult subjects at Harvard where she slowly proves doubters and haters wrong. I enjoyed the way the script showed that Elle is not unintelligent, just has knowledge of more popular girly topics before rolling up her sleeves and deciding to subvert the stereotype everyone has of her. Another refreshing aspect is as the film goes on, Elle becomes less interested in winning Warner back and instead asserts her smarts in the court case. What could have just been a predictable part of the story turned into something else and I was happy to observe it take a different road for the better.
Reese Witherspoon is utterly delightful and winning as Elle Woods, making the character her own from the very first time we see her. She adeptly gets across the bubbly personality of Elle as well as making us root for her to succeed and prove doubters wrong. Witherspoon’s performance is one of kittenish enthusiasm, sparky quips and a growing intellect, that showcases how Elle may look out-of-place in Harvard at the start, but once settled and determined rises to the top. Reese Witherspoon is the biggest draw of Legally Blonde and it’s impossible to imagine anyone else playing Elle as well as her. I liked Luke Wilson in his role of the supportive Emmett; he plays him a genuinely nice guy who refuses to just see Elle as a Barbie doll like almost everyone else. Selma Blair is impressively snobby and bitchy as Warner’s new girlfriend, who is revealed to be quite insecure beneath the catty facade. As the douche bag boyfriend who because of his blue-blooded background dumps Elle, Matthew Davis is appropriately arrogant, until he sees that Elle is not as dumb as he initially thought. Victor Garber is well cast as a disapproving professor, while there is Jennifer Coolidge who is delightfully funny as an unlucky in love beautician benefiting from Elle’s sassy help. The only person who suffers is Ali Larter as the woman accused of murdering her husband. It’s not Larter’s fault, it’s that the character is introduced too late into the story to really feel anything towards her. Larter in fact does a good enough job, her role just could have used some embellishing.
It may at the start look like a run of the mill exercise, but Legally Blonde greatly distinguishes itself from the crowd with its mix of laughs and lovable heroine that will win you over instantly.