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Fashion school student and sorority leader Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) is dumped by her law student boyfriend Warner Huntington III (Matthew Davis) because he "needs someone serious" for his planned political career. In an attempt to win Warner back, Elle applies to Harvard and, defying the odds, is accepted into its prestigious law course. Initially derided by teachers and fellow students, Elle slowly finds her feet and discovers she has what it takes for a career in law. Her big chance to impress arrives when distinguished lawyer Callahan (Victor Garber) takes her on as an intern during the trial of Brooke (Ali Larter), a weight-loss guru accused of murdering her much older husband.

As fresh as reality (it’s based on Amanda Brown’s own experiences) and as biting, Legally Blonde takes the campus comedy and turns it into an energetic smash hit for all audiences. Australian director Robert Luketic—unashamedly labelling himself a ‘commercial filmmaker’—balances the war of the sexes humour with the subtext of being yourself, in an ever-pleasing and dynamic film which never loses respect for its characters, or for the audience. We are not expected to automatically feel sorry for a Beverly Hills girl driving a Porsche; she has to earn our affection and our admiration, which Reese Witherspoon does in sensational style. The truth of her Elle Wood characterisation is the element that makes the film. She succeeds perfectly and pulls the entire team along with her. The script lives and breathes—in between guffaws of recognition—and the production design is a standout, especially the costumes for Elle. She has to get away with a wardrobe that walks on both sides of the street: feminine and feminist. The old saying that clothes maketh the man is perhaps even more apposite for women and Sophie Carbonell’s work in costume design deserves recognition. But the most amazing aspect of the film is Luketic’s ability to juggle the stereotypical blonde joke with the politically correct gesture and come up with a win win result. Sequel please!
Andrew L. Urban

Flighty, funny and fabulous, Legally Blonde is a delightful charmer that is simply loaded with attitude. Bursting at the seams with spontaneity and fun, Australian Robert Luketic’s uplifting Hollywood debut is not only a genuine crowd pleaser, but boasts a tour de force performance by blonde babe Reece Witherspoon. Cleverly parodying the essence of the blonde joke, Legally Blonde is a witty satire on brains and brawn. And Luketic delivers personality-filled entertainment that not only makes us laugh until it hurts, but warms us with its big, big heart. Having a crisis? As every girl knows, hair and nail therapy is a tried and true remedy for—well, just about everything! The big surprise is that the film offers far more than the one-joke scenario. It cleverly seduces us into a different world—a bright pink, fluffy world, where the blonde way simply reveals a different slant. It’s about individuality and believing in yourself. At first glance, you may be forgiven for thinking that the title should carry a ‘Girls Only’ warning. But the film’s heart will reach all — young and old, male and female, blonde or otherwise. There are some priceless moments and the excellent script offers a host of irresistible lines. Witherspoon imbues Elle with such innocent charm and grace: she is simultaneously sexy, sassy and seductively sweet. She is indeed a vision in pink with precious pet pooch, fluffy pink phone, feathered pink plume and perfumed pink resume. Oh, and if you want to try out the 98% successfully proven ‘Bend and Snap’ (get noticed) manoeuvre, you’d better hurry and buy a ticket. It’s refreshing that while we laugh at all the blonde antics, we genuinely care for Elle, and are delighted at being part of the trip. Sugar coated with a rich satisfying centre, Legally Blonde is so much fun it should be illegal.
Louise Keller

Legally Blonde might as well be called "The Reese Witherspoon Show." She so dominates proceedings no-one else even seems to be on screen. In the same vein as (the superior) Clueless and with a little of Witherspoon’s Election thrown in, it’s hard not to like this cheery outing about a blonde who’s anything but dumb and in whom the spirit of the underdog finds a most appealing host. You may not be in stitches as Witherspoon parades around in powder pink suits and prepares scented resumes for her tutors but she’ll keep you smiling most of the way to the improbable but very funny courtroom finale. There’s nothing even slightly deep going on here—it’s just the simple tale of a girl who’s dumped by her snob of a boyfriend and discovers what she’s actually got would be wasted on such a prat. That beauty products, hair treatments and liposuction happen to play a part in Elle’s journey to self-discovery makes it all the more amusing. Australian director Robert Luketic, whose short film about a troubled check-out chick called Titsiana Booberini helped land him his first feature film, does a good job here and moves things along quickly to help cover weak spots in the hit and miss script. Fortunately Witherspoon hits the target every time and for that Luketic and the rest of us can be grateful. Richard Kuipers

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CAST: Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair, Matthew Davis, Victor Garber, Jennifer Coolidge, Ali Larter, Raquel Welch

DIRECTOR: Robert Luketic

PRODUCER: Ric Kidney, Marc E. Platt

SCRIPT: Kirsten Smith, Karen McCullah Lutz (from Amanda Brown’s novel)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Anthony B. Richmond

EDITOR: Anita Brandt-Burgoyne

MUSIC: Rolfe Kent


RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 11, 2001

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