Legally Blonde (12)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner29/10/2001

Four out of five stars
Running time: 97 mins

Silly, but very funny comedy that rises above its predictable plot thanks to a sharply written script and a performance of comedy gold from Reese Witherspoon.

Reese Witherspoon (Election, Cruel Intentions) plays Elle Woods, a popular blonde sorority girl whose boyfriend dumps her before he goes to Harvard because "if I'm going to be a senator before I'm 30, I need a Jackie not a Marilyn".

She's not a dumb blonde, but everyone perceives her that way because of her friends and her interests (clothes, shopping, make-up, an unhealthy obsession with the colour pink, etc).

So, in order to win her boyfriend back, she gets into Harvard (her hilarious admissions video is one of the film’s high-points, so it’s a shame they used most of it in the trailer) and sets about trying to succeed at school…

As a comedy, Legally Blonde owes a great deal to similar films such as Clueless (with Alicia Silverstone) and even Private Benjamin (starring Goldie Hawn), each of which had characters that seemed initially ditzy, but who won out in the end.

There’s no denying that this is a very silly movie, but it's a lot of fun, too, and if you've ever groaned at those cliché-laden legal dramas with their shock revelations during the trial scenes, then you’ll get a kick out of this.

The supporting cast are excellent, notably Selma Blair (as her bitchy rival for her ex-boyfriend’s affections), Jennifer Coolidge (aka ‘Stifler’s Mom’ from American Pie) as her beauty-salon confidante, the ever-reliable Holland Taylor (you’ll know the face) as her initially stern tutor, and Ali Larter as a woman accused of murder, whose case Elle takes on as an intern.

Elle’s much-dimmer best friends (Jessica Cauffiel and Alana Ubach) are also good value and provide one of the film’s best lines.

There’s no doubting, however, that the film belongs to Witherspoon, who is fast becoming one of the best young actresses currently working in Hollywood. It’s safe to say that without her, the film wouldn’t be half as enjoyable – her performance is delightful.

One scene in particular has her mistakenly arriving at a party in a bunny-girl outfit (just like in Bridget Jones’s Diary) and her reaction to that is at once surprising and endearing, and speaks volumes about the character.

In short, Legally Blonde has great gags, great lines and a lovely central performance that carries it through the obvious silliness of its plot. You’ll come out chuckling and grinning, and when was the last time a Hollywood comedy managed that? Highly recommended.

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Legally Blonde (12)
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Content updated: 17/12/2017 12:06

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