There's almost no film genre that can't benefit from a little intelligence, some taste and good acting. One genre that would particularly test that theory is the empty headed popular sorority girl going off to college movie. "Legally Blonde" passes the test with an 'A'.
Frankly, it might not have been possible without Reese Witherspoon or an actress of equal ability to maintain such a bubbly, sprightly level of energy in portraying a ditz with unending determination. She takes us on a delightful romp through the rooms of her sorority house and into the corridors of Yale Law School as she pursues her love and finds purpose instead.
Elle Woods (Witherspoon) is the toast of her Delta Nu sorority sisters on the eve of what everyone expects will be the fab Warner Huntington III's (Matthew Davis) proposal of marriage to her. Instead, he dumps her, destroying all her plans, fantasies and design for life. His reason is that she's simply not rich enough or well enough postioned in life for the congressman he expects to become. Hmmmph. Well!
Anyway, he's on his way to Harvard Law School and this academic track is quite beyond the vacuous concerns of Elle's life. Even if she wanted to go there, she'd never pass the LSATs. Oh, yeah? Well, this little air head has some grey matter in that skull and she bones up enough to pass the tests. That, and her privately financed (rich Bel Air parents) video in which, clad in bikini, she demonstrates her desire and qualifications. This leads to her acceptance, and she follows him to those hallowed halls.
She arrives on the college scene with wardrobe and make-up designed to win everyone over. Only these ways of hers are totally alien in this higher minded atmosphere where a demonstration of scholarly attainment is the currency. Eventually, she catches on, and her down-home understanding of human behavior and motivation catches the eye of a professor who puts her on his intern staff.
Pretty soon she's involved in a murder case in which the accused, Brooke Taylor Windham (a hot Ali Larter) is a former member of Delta Nu. Despite Elle's lowly status as a staff intern, the defendant clearly trusts Elle more than the successful professor-lawyer who is defending her, and this leads to a fantastic wrap-up of the trial and interesting results for our heroine. This is a bit of a stretch but nothing beyond what we've seen on Ally McBeal.
Witherspoon pulls it off with elan and laser-like control, being careful to never take more than a step over the line and draw back before it gets mired down in too much buffoonery or cheap zaniness. She never lets up the infectious good spirit of her character, a quality that Witherspoon imparts generously. Furthermore, the intelligence guiding the film actually imparts some meaning along with the comedic zest. This film is an accomplishment in its genre.
Robert Luketic directed his first feature film from a script by Karen McCullah Lutz from a novel by Amanda Brown.
Estimated cost: $18,000,000. Projected U.S. boxoffice: $88,000,000.
Rated N, for Natural.