MGM // 1992 // 96 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // October 17th, 2001
Boldly going where no blond has gone.
In a summer filled with rampaging dinosaurs, lumbering mummies, and talking apes, audiences yearned for something a little less tense, something to make them giggle and smile. Enter Legally Blonde. Quickly becoming a bona fide hit with critics and moviegoers, Legally Blonde shot to the top of the box office like a bullet. The underdog tale got a new spin with Reese Witherspoon (Election) playing Ellie Woods, a supposedly blonde bimbo who enrolls at Harvard Law School to win back the heart of her beloved ex-beau. Also starring Luke Wilson (Rushmore), MGM's Legally Blonde is brought into the DVD Verdict courtroom for a fair and judicial case that will determine if Legally Blonde is the real thing, or as fake as the roots on Reese's head. Let the trial begin!
Meet Ellie Wood (Witherspoon). Ellie is a likable California sorority girl who enjoys getting her nails done, playing with her little dog, and spending time with her heartthrob boyfriend Warner (Matthew Davis). Ellie thinks that Warner is going to propose to her soon. However, Warner has other plans. When Warner dumps her, Ellie realizes that she HAS to get him back by whatever means possible -- even if it means following him to Harvard Law School!
Enrolled and accepted at Harvard, Ellie now faces greater tasks than winning back Warner, including prejudice from the students, razzing from the teachers, and Warner's new fiancée Vivian's (Selma Blair) degrading and damaging remarks. When Ellie's skills are put to the test at a murder trial for fitness queen Brooke Taylor Windham (Ali Larter), Ellie must rise to the occasion and show everyone that blonde doesn't necessarily mean dumb!
Well, well, well...isn't this a little surprise! Talk about a movie I never expected to see, much less like. When Legally Blonde was released in the summer of 2001, I had no inclination to see it. To this reviewer's discerning eye, it looked as if it were a knockoff of every other teenybopper comedy ever made. When Legally Blonde came in for review, I assumed that it probably wouldn't be my cup of tea. I mean, let's face it -- the cover is almost as colorful as a Hello Kitty backpack. Not exactly the type of film I'm usually drawn to. I will be the first to admit that I was wrong; Legally Blonde is legally funny.
Reese Witherspoon is charming as Ellie, a character that I thought would get irritating but eventually grew on me. Witherspoon is pitch perfect with her California charm and innocent attitude. Ellie is the type of girl who wants everyone around her to be happy, and is atypical of most Hollywood sorority stereotypes; she doesn't put people down, she's talks to the goofy looking guys, and she's got a soft heart to boot. Witherspoon gives off a genuine glow that can't be denied. The rest of the cast is also great, including the funny Luke Wilson as Ellie's potential love interest, Selma Blair as Ellie's rival, and Victor Garber (Titanic) as the stern Professor Callahan. I was even surprised by Oz Perkins (son of horror legend Anthony "Norman Bates" Perkins) as David, a minor but funny character who knows how to pull a laugh out of a single facial expression.
While the storyline is a bit unrealistic (I have this feeling that Harvard is obviously a lot harder than this movie portrays it to be), I still had a good time all around. Writers Marc Platt and Ric Kidney have sculpted a funny script with amusing situations and dialogue for the characters to play off. A scene where Ellie goes to a Harvard party in a Halloween costume (unaware that she's been tricked) had me laughing pretty hard. While there were a few instances where the movie lagged, there were still enough moments in this film to ensure I had fun.
I'd also like to point out that Legally Blonde is not in the vein of most teenager comedies. There are no sperm jokes, no farting gags, and hardly any offensive material for kids and young teens. While there are a few obscenities, I feel that Legally Blonde is a great family movie (with mom and dad present) with a very well placed message: be yourself no matter what. Ellie lives by the golden rule, and as such is able to make us laugh in the process! And isn't that just super?!
Legally Blonde is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen (as well as pan & scan). Lavished in all kinds of pastel colors and bright tones, Legally Blonde looks exquisite! Everything about this transfer is great, including the flesh tones, colors and deep, dark black levels. While there was a small hint of compression present (as well as a few instances of inexplicable grain), it did not detract for the enjoyment of the film. MGM has done a wonderful job on this transfer and should be proud!
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and is also very well produced. Since Legally Blonde is mainly a dialogue driven film, this means that the soundtrack is not going to be overly aggressive. The biggest boost this track gets is when pop and rock songs are blaring over the images on the screens. Directional effects were used, though only sparingly and with little effect. Even so, this track still sounds very good with no distortion or hiss present. Also included on this disc are French and Spanish Dolby 2.0 surround tracks, as well as English, French, and Spanish subtitles.
Legally Blonde wins its case by a landslide with a special edition disc that includes a good portion of fun bonus material. To start with there are two separate commentary tracks, one by director Robert Kuketic, actress Reese Witherspoon, and producer Marc Platt, and the other by six members of the film crew. The first track is the best of the two, seething with information about the making of the film and some funny anecdotes about some of the actors on-screen (with much discussion about Reese's hair). The second track is also fun, though not quite as frothy and enjoyable as the first track. Oddly enough, Witherspoon doesn't sound even half as flighty (or cute) as her on-screen persona. Ah, the magic of movies. Also included is a trivia track that lets you watch the movie while reading little color bubbles on the screen that give tidbits about the film (not unlike VH1's "Pop-Up Video" show).
On the second side of this disc are some more supplements, including eight deleted scenes from the film. All of these are presented in non-anamorphic widescreen with mediocre audio on each scene. Fans of Legally Blonde will thrill to watching some of these deleted elements, but overall they don't add up to a whole lot. After watching these scenes, I'm sure you'll agree that leaving them on the editing room floor was a very good decision.
Two featurettes are included, one being an almost 20-minute long documentary called "Inside Legally Blonde," and the other is an eight-minute feature titled "The Hair That Ate Hollywood." "Inside Legally Blonde" is the usual promotional tool that includes interviews with the cast and crew as well as a few other principles (such as screenwriters Marc Platt and Ric Kidney). Terrifyingly enough, Legally Blonde is based on a book written by Amanda Brown, and that book is based on Brown's own experiences in law school (she says in an interview that she choose Stanford because "they had a really good mall in that town"). Even the screenwriters admit that Brown is a mirror image to Ellie's character. This feature is basically a description of how the movie came to be, plus interesting insights by most of the cast. "The Hair That Ate Hollywood" is just what you'd expect: a feature on Reese's hairstyles in the movie. Key stylist Joy Zapata is interviewed, as well as the director, Reese Witherspoon, and other hair nuts from Legally Blonde. Amusing, though ultimately pointless.
Finally there is a non-anamorphic widescreen theatrical trailer for Legally Blonde (plus a trailer for the DVD "special edition" of The Princess Bride), as well as a full frame music video to singer Hoku's "Perfect Day" (which was used over the main titles of the film).
A thoroughly enjoyable comedy, Legally Blonde is a lot of fluffy fun. The cast knows exactly where to find the laughs, and while Legally Blonde won't change the world, it's fluffernutter fun that should put a smile on even the most cynical of faces. MGM has done some very nice work on this title, and as such is given very lenient treatment by this court!
Legally Blonde has won the case! Not guilty!
Review content copyright © 2001 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 1992
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Two Audio Commentaries by the Cast and Crew
* Two Featurettes: "The Hair That Ate Hollywood" and "Inside Legally Blonde"
* Eight Deleted Scenes
* "Perfect Day" Music Video by Hoku
* Trivia Track
* Theatrical Trailers
* Official Site
* Harvard University