Legally Blonde 2
Red, White, and Blonde
review by Dan
Lybarger, 4 July 2003
world could use a lot more of Elle Woods.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
PG-13 - Parents
Some material may
be inappropriate for
children under 13.