Legally Blonde 2
Red, White, and Blonde
review by Dan Lybarger, 4 July 2003

The world could use a lot more of Elle Woods.

The protagonist of 2001’s Legally Blonde is one of the screen’s most lovable characters because she’s several things: perky, fashion-obsessed and amiable. In a pleasant break from the stereotype, the terms "stupid" and "petty" do not apply.

In her kinder, gentler reworking of Martha Stewart’s vision, she manages to make her seemingly silly ideas turn out both realistic and beneficial. She also has a strong compassion that tempers her materialism, and one suspects that if she, God forbid, ever had to live on a Wal-Mart budget, she’d find a way to make trailer-park living stylish and fulfilling. Elle’s sunny outlook, and Reese Witherspoon’s energetic and perfectly timed portrayal turned what could have been a sitcom-ish bore into a genuine comic delight.

The current sequel, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, & Blonde, is like its predecessor, engagingly light and amusing, but it almost collapses because it occasionally fails to be true to its roots. When the new film starts up, Elle is up for a major promotion and is about to marry her sweetheart Ted (the omnipresent Luke Wilson). Her elation at her personal triumphs fades when she discovers that she hasn’t invited anyone from her beloved Chihuahua Bruiser’s family to the nuptials. Desperate to rectify the problem, she even hires a detective to locate his long missing mother.

OK, so she adores her loyal pooch, but this setup seems a bit too dippy for the enterprising Elle. When she discovers that Bruiser’s mom is a test subject for a cosmetic firm’s animal experiments, she tries to convince her firm to lobby against the practice (through one of her typically elaborate presentations), but winds up losing her job.

Whereas most would simply moan about their defeat, Elle decides to take a job in Washington so that she can push through legislation to ban animal testing once and for all. Working for a Congressional Rep named Victoria Rudd (Sally Field), Elle initially encounters some opposition from her co-workers who dismiss her first as an intern and then as "Capital Barbie." After some initial victories, she winds up having to face down her own boss over the bill. Nonetheless, Elle is not a force to be underestimated. In addition to her own resources, she has the help of a doorman (Bob Newhart at his droll best) who knows more about DC than any of the elected officials, and her refusal to demonize her opponents winds up winning them over.

Watching Elle eventually conquer is still fun, but the new screenwriter Kate Kondell and director Charles Herman-Wurmfeld from Kissing Jessica Stein occasionally miss the point of the first film: people who are light of hair and spirit are not necessarily light of head. When Elle shows up on the capital steps wearing her incandescently pink outfits, you’d think she’d realize that standing out and clashing are two very different things. In the first film she seemed a good deal more observant that she does here. It takes her longer to catch on.  Witherspoon is still likable in the role, but she’d be more so if she could catch on a little more quickly. It’s also a shame that Herman-Wurmfeld couldn’t replicate the quirky charm of his previous feature.

Fortunately, Elle’s Kate Kondell does come up with several choice utterances like, "I never thought I’d be this happy without incurring credit card debt." The supporting cast, which includes Bruce McGill (The Insider), is committed and ably follow Witherspoon’s lead.

The films final sequence indicates where Elle’s next adventure could take her. Without throwing in a spoiler, it’s a destiny that’s downright welcome. One hopes that any future installments include more of Elle’s intelligence to go with her indomitable will.

Directed by:
Charles Herman-Wurmfeld

Reese Witherspoon
Sally Field
Bob Newhart
Luke Wilson
Jennifer Coolidge
Regina King
Jessica Cauffiel
Alanna Ubach

Written by:
Amanda Brown
Eve Ahlert
Dennis Drake
Kate Kondell

PG-13 - Parents
Strongly Cautioned.
Some material may
be inappropriate for
children under 13.






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