0.5 Stars
Year Released: 2001
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 100 minutes
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I have an excuse for paying $8 to see “Legally Blonde.” A damn good one: I have a girlfriend. You may now jump to the conclusion that she is 12 years-old, since that is exactly who this film was made for. Well let it be said that she’s legal and she is definitely not bi-curious (unfortunately) and thus not drooling over the prospect of seeing Reese Witherspoon in a bikini, which is just about the only other reason I can fathom that someone might find this film entertaining. That or you are just a sucker for a Raquel Welch cameo.
Mrs. Witherspoon is cast well below her considerable talents as an airhead Bel Air brat who has it all. You know the kind: ultra-perky and heinously dressed, the kind of daddy’s girl we see depicted in so many films, but is really just a figment of a bitter filmmaker’s imagination. (I have lived my entire life in Southern California and never seen any rich brat so devoid of cynicism.) She has a boyfriend that she worships, but said boyfriend dumps her to meet his “Jackie not Marilyn” at Harvard Law School. Being the determined little gal that Mrs. Witherspoon’s character is (yes, I admit I have forgotten every character’s name just hours after viewing it), she is determined to go to Harvard Law herself and prove this no-damn-good boyfriend that she is worthy of his affections and engagement ring. The video she makes to get into Harvard has the only bikini shots of the delicious peanut butter cup herself. Later on in the film, we see Reese running on a treadmill and sweating in an athletic bra. These two scenes are pivotal in supporting any claim this movie has to entertainment. The rest of the time, she is running around in outlandish garb that would look more at home on a Sunset Blvd. whore than a rich Bel Air bitch. This is rather odd, since it becomes hard to even imagine her character having sex, let alone giving it up for greenbacks.
Unfortunately, the story from here on does not service the sex-sells angle well at all. Once Reese’s pieces gets into Harvard, the flesh-flashing quotient sinks to Nickelodeon levels. Her sexy So Cal friends are gone and all the East Coast girls wear large sweaters and jeans. In fact, she finds out to her surprise (and ours!) that everyone who goes to Harvard are not the sons and daughters of the wealthy elite, but really a bunch of down-to-earth nerds who have no pretenses of being anything but smart. The only reason for this rather bizarre stereotype busting of the Harvard snob is to let the snobby Mrs. Witherspoon play fish out of water for awhile. I guess the viewer can be thankful for this since the only smiles or chuckles you are likely to get, come from cut away reaction shots of the Harvard proletariats seeing the bourgeoisie Witherspoon making Ivy League fashion faux pas.
While I certainly do not want to give away any of the riveting plot points, suffice it to say that the filmmakers may have watched Bob Clark’s film “From the Hip” one too many times. In that post-“Porky’s” pig squeal, the wacky comedy subsides into a dark and sinister murder trial, leaving you to forget that the original idea was to make you laugh. Luckily, “Legally Blonde” does not suffer from such duality since it was never funny to begin with. But it begins to become clear at the 60-minute mark that even these filmmakers realize that seeing Reese taking notes in law school with a fuzzy pink pen has worn a bit thin and so a murder mystery is born and a legal thriller begins to shape. However, you can forget about guessing who the culprit is, since they are revealed to be guilty in the same scene as they are first introduced.
Perhaps the most perplexing mystery of the film is not the murder itself (or why my girlfriend wanted to see it in the first place), but why a studio would spend millions of dollars dressing Reese Witherspoon like a whore, in a courtroom comedy, but not make one single “Aly McBeal” joke. Likewise, the famous-person-murder-trial does not even invite the slightest comparison to O.J. It is as if the devoid-of-reality Witherspoon character had written the script herself. If “Legally Blond” were a sentient being, the most it could ever hope for would be to have itself compared to “Clueless.” While it is certainly plausible that some viewers may find all this quite amusing (in the same way one might find “Sabrina: The Teenage Witch” funnier than “Seinfeld”), it is hard to recommend a film that fails to do its two most basic goals: to make you laugh and to titillate. But if you are the kind of guy who, in this age of free internet porn, is able to get his rocks off just by watching Julia Roberts strut the streets of Hollywood in “Pretty Woman,” then this may be just the cock tease you need. For the rest of us, we can catch all the good parts next week on our favorite celebrity skin web sites.

Posted on July 12, 2001 in Reviews by

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