LEGALLY BLONDE 2: RED WHITE AND BLONDE
As rising young lawyer Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) prepares for her wedding and discovers Bruiser’s mum (Bruiser is her dog) is one of the pets used for experiments to develop cosmetics, she tries to get her law firm to take action – but it’s not that kind of law firm, and she’s fired. So Elle goes to Washington to make the legislators do something to stop the practice. But the grey suited men and women on Capitol Hill don’t immediately respond as she’d like. So Elle plucks up her permanently pink determination and decides the only way to save the poor animals being used in this way is to change the law itself, by what becomes known as Bruiser’s Bill. It takes all of Elle’s combination of good intentions and pink-infused power puffing to make any headway, and then she discovers a powerful ally has betrayed her.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
I don’t profess to know why Aussie director Robert Luketic didn’t direct this sequel, but if I had to guess, it’s because he didn’t dig the screenplay. I agree with him: it’s not worthy of the pink wonder Lusetic created with the screenplay of the original. Reese Witherspoon is just as good, though, but for anyone who still doubts the vital importance of a script, these two films make a great study guide. Same star (same favourite support cast in love interest Luke Wilson and daffy girlfriend Jennifer Coolidge) and same concept – different writers and director.
The first part of the screenplay pursues the totally valid notion that appearances can be deceptive: Elle may look like a superficial Barbie doll, she is smarter than your average Harvard lawyer. In fact, she’s both superficial and deeply principled, but that’s thanks to the originally created character. LB2 starts to slip when Elle embarks on her crusade in Washington, as things get too simplistic, manipulative and shallow. The script also misses hitting its all important marks which demonstrate Elle’s smarts, not just talks about them. For example, Elle recruits one influential female political harridan not through the power of her argument but their (unlikely) common membership of a cutesy network of women. Even if this is meant to parody some male network equivalent (say Freemasons), it is so simplistically done it’s embarrassing. More outside help comes by way of a mysterious doorman (Bob Newhart) who has all the ‘power’ information she needs in Washington. A gruff and blokey chauvinist Senator too readily turns to mush under her influence . . . because his dog turns out to be gay!? Elle is given just one crack at demonstrating what the screenplay boasts of her abilities, and that’s near the end when she puts her case for Americans to find their own voices and take a stand against what they believe to be wrong. Admirable statement, second rate way to say it.
Review by Louise Keller:
Elle Woods, everybody’s blonde sweetheart has become a franchise since the smash success of Legally Blonde a couple of years ago, in which pink, fluffy pens and purple Imacs wielded as much power as the most hardened feminist. Legally Blonde 2 takes us back to the land of pinks, pastels and pooches, but this time it’s a bit of a let down, as direction, storyline and production design never reach the heights of the first film. I suppose it’s hard to imagine what Elle could get up to next, after making it through Harvard when her credentials were more suited to being a swimsuit model.
Perhaps the writers of the screenplay had the same dilemma. And if the script doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter how sparkling the cast or how cute some of the ideas, the result will never have that magical zing that makes a film so special. But Legally Blonde 2 is still an amusing and occasionally delightful load of fluff that creates its own ‘blonde’ reality with its wardrobe, French manicures and the chi-chi Chihuahua, Bruiser, who we learn in the closing credits, is dressed by ‘Fifi and Romeo’.
The opening sequence has Elle’s friends flip through a spangled album created for her forthcoming wedding, being a clever device to remind us of key plot points from the first film. But it’s not until we are caught up in the life-changing haircuts that are traded for votes, that a sprinkle of magic begins to spread and Elle’s innocent sweetness kicks in. Reese Witherspoon is a terrific talent and her Elle has every blonde flounce, wiggle and flurry, even if all the elements are not complete. All our favourites are there, like Jennifer Coolidge as the skew-whiff beautician with the impossibly rubbery lips, Luke Wilson as Elle’s doting boyfriend, plus new characters like Sally Field’s two-faced ambitious, blonde congresswoman.
Signature themes that were introduced in the first film are maintained – like things that are pink and scented, and the ‘bend and snap’ routine is expanded into the ‘snap cup’ which is designed to make you feel warm and fuzzy. Of course the dogs are adorable, and there’s a scene in which we are shown the doggie rap, that has to be seen to be believed. (And there are no dogs present!) The humour and ‘blonde’ logic does have its own cumulative effect and at times is fun, frivolous and funny. But don’t expect too much, or you will be disappointed, whether you’re blonde or not.
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REECE WITHERSPOON INTERVIEW by Nick Roddick
LEGALLY BLONDE 2: RED WHITE AND BLONDE (PG)
CAST: Reese Witherspoon, Sally Field, Regina King, Jennifer Coolidge, Bruce McGill, Dana Icey, Mary Lynn Rajkub, Jessica Cauffiel, Alanna Ubach, J. Barton, with Bob Newhart and Luke Wilson
PRODUCER: Marc Platt, David Nicksay
DIRECTOR: Charles Herman-Wurmfeld
SCRIPT: Kate Kondell (story by Eve Ahlert, Dennis Drake, Kate Kondell)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Elliott Davis
EDITOR: Peter Teschner
MUSIC: Rolfe Kent
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Missy Stewart
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 11, 2003
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.