First off, two things. My wife had a really great idea for a series this month called “Soup Movies”. The basic rundown of the idea is to review movies that are just kinda cozy and warm, like a good bowl of soup around this time of year. Second, I felt it was best to get back to pairing movies with the weekly podcast. So, I decided to do both! This month I’ll be picking pairings for the podcast that also happen to be good soup movies. Heck, I may even recommend a soup to eat with it. Maybe. We’ll see.
Gosh I love soup.
Anyway, this week Mel and Dan covered She-Hulk: Attorney At Law. That’s right, folks: there’s yet another Marvel project that, frankly, we just have to cover. Well, at least, Mel and Dan have to cover it. Thankfully I just gotta write this article. Which gives me an excuse to watch a different lady lawyer movie that just rocks; Legally Blonde!
Now heads up for those of you who don’t want offensive material in your movies: there’s no nudity here, but there are some revealing clothing choices. Most of these are telegraphed, though, so if you feel the moment coming up, I recommend skipping the scene or looking away. With that out of the way, though, let’s move on to the film at large!
This may as well be the Reese Witherspoon creation myth. Everything in her entire career is encapsulated in the character of Elle Woods. She’s a spunky, fabulous, womanly young lady who uses her natural femininity to huge advantage in pursuing a law degree from Harvard, as well as helping defend an innocent alumna of her sorority. Witherspoon’s trademark mix of sweetness and wit, combined with the emotion she gives her characters, nearly always renders a good product. It’s especially the case here, where Elle is someone who almost certainly doesn’t exist in the real world, but we’re made to wish she did.
To my wife and me, Legally Blonde is kind of a friendly hangout movie. We just love going back to visit the characters. I mean, it’s a given that Elle is fun to see again and again, but the other cast is so darn good. Luke Wilson as Elle’s new beau Emmett is so darn sweet that you’re gonna want to put him in your coffee. Then there’s Jennifer Coolidge in her signature role as Paulette. This is a character that just jumps off the screen, gives you a hug, and makes you think how nice it would be if she was your aunt. And there are more! Selma Blair as Vivian, Ali Larter as Brooke, Bruce Thomas as the UPS Guy…these are wonderful. I’m not sure if it’s the script or just the right casting or some combination of both, but these are just delightful characters.
Then there’s the plot. You know, this ain’t nothin’ special if I’m being honest—it’s just an amusing twist on a courtroom drama with some grad school shenanigans thrown in. But nobody in the movie seems to mind! Nobody is underplaying out of malice or boredom, and nobody is chewing scenery out of cynicism. No, everything is done out of sincerity in Legally Blonde.
Now, the sincerity is very nice and much appreciated, but putting on my critic’s hat means doing some criticism. There are certainly bits of bad acting here. Elle’s sorority sisters, for instance, can be equal parts annoying and enjoyable at times. There are lines that don’t work. There are some dated jokes and largely inappropriate thematic elements that bring some discomfort to me personally.
But dang, this movie is just so cute. It’s hard to hate something like this that just does what it’s trying to do. Heck, I haven’t even mentioned the women’s empowerment themes at work here. They’re good, by the way. I mean, looking at it with today’s eyes, you might change a couple things—but not much. The coolest thing about Elle is just that she assumes the ability to do what she wants to. She just goes for it!
Wanna get into Harvard? She does it! Wanna get a really nice guy? She does it! Wanna solve a high-profile murder case? She freakin’ does it! And yet she’s human.
Even with all of her self-assuredness, she has struggles. She’s hurt by the way she’s perceived. She’s hurt when people tell her she can’t do what she’s trying to do. She hurts when she’s belittled. She’s a human. That’s part of why we love her.
This movie mixes the heightened reality of the whole situation with performances that make you feel these characters—even the most over-the-top of them—are real. That’s the real strength. That’s the reason we come back again and again. Frankly, I think that’s why Reese Witherspoon has the career she does today.
Overall, this movie is far from perfect, but it’s also far from being just another chick-flick guys like me can simply toss in the wastebasket. Nope. This one is a classic. Three out of four stars. I recommend it.
Well, I said I might recommend a soup after each one. I guess…chicken noodle? Does that seem Ivy League enough? I don’t know. Just watch the movie.
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Stephen McFerron likes movies. It’s that simple. From the lowest depths of the drive-in to the highest peaks of arthouse; the grand golden age to superhero spectacles, he’s all in! Since watching Gremlins and Jaws at a young age, Stephen has had an appetite for the strange and fantastic, as well as the old! If you’re here to explore movie history, or learn more about the best of today, Stephen’s your guide! He may even say something mildly profound along the way… if he’s lucky!