My wife shares my enjoyment of films, perhaps not the degree I do but when she comments on a film she has seen and I have not, I listen. While in the theaters she saw Legally Blonde and raved about it. Since I have to wait to see most films on DVD I was anxiously await the release of this film on disc. Its finally here and I have to agree, it a truly enjoyable film. Reese Witherspoon plays Elle Woods, a sorority gal that is dumped by her insensitive boy friend, Warner Huntington III (Matthew Davis) on the night she thought he was going to propose. The reason Warner gives for the breakup is that he needs a socially acceptable, serious girl to make his wife. Elle decides to show how serious she is by following him to Harvard Law School. Elle has the grades to do it and even hires a Coppola to direct her admission essay video. Once in Harvard Law she faces the reality of harsh professors, and a rival student Vivian (Selma Blair). To make matters worse, Elle discovers Vivian is engaged to Warner. While most of the characters in the film see Elle as the typical blonde joke she is most definitely not a dumb blonde. Elle finally winds up in a high profile court case where her intelligence and fashion sense saves the days. What makes this story work is a few factors. The writing is not a series of clichés. The writing is crisp, to the point and most importantly, truly funny. As the father of a teenage daughter I like it when a movie shows a young woman can balance a real enjoyment of life with a dedication and purpose. So many comedies run the female leads to shallow bimbos but this film avoids this trap like the plague. Elle may seem dizzy but she is a smart, attractive driven young woman with a real heart of gold.
This film is a perfect showcase for the talents of Reese Witherspoon. She bubbles through the film. She owns this role. Her portrayal of Elle avoids the pitfall of being too one-dimensional. Her Elle shows flair and dedication as well as a zest for life. While Witherspoon could have imitated Silverstone in Clueless here she creates a character all her own. The film plays off the stark contrast between Elle and Vivian. Blairs brings a malice to Vivian that helps us root for Elle all the more. This role for Blair is a departure from her usual innocent young girl characters, like the last movie she co-stared with Witherspoon, Cruel Intentions. The other characters are more to fill out the aspects of Elles character rather than giving the actors much to do.
The director for this romp is Robert Luketic. This is his second film and his first with any real budget. He does a very good job in a genre that can easily fall into cliché. While pacing is vital for any type of film in a comedy it is almost everything. Here, the film starts off rapidly. The main characters are introduced, the situation set up and the initial problem presented. Having Elle decide to go to Law school to follow her boyfriend by seeing something in a fashion magazine sounds like a cheap ploy but it works in light of the character built for Elle. What keeps the movie flowing is it is basically presented in several sections. There is the introduction. Getting into law school. Law school reality sets in. And finally success, conflict and resolution. Each section is provided with its own arc and tempo. The last section was rushed. Too much was presented in the last twenty minutes of the film only to be resolved three minutes later. This gave the impression that the film was planned to go a little longer and cuts where made. Im sure this is not the case its just the impression I was left with. All in all, Luketic has potential for the fast paced comedy. His scenes are well framed, lit and holds your interest. Of course the costume designer had a field day in this flick. I look forward to his next project.
MGM/UA has done a superior job with the design and specs for this disc. The audio is 5.1 Dolby and is very well balanced. The sound field is natural and the rear speakers add realistic depth. The sub woofer is used mostly to highlight the pop sound track. The video is in two versions. There is a widescreen 2.35:1 anamorphic version and a full screen version on the same disc. A menu makes the selection when you start the film. There are two commentary tracks, Liketic and Witherspoon for one and the crew chiefs on the other. There is also an extra I hadnt seen before. You can select Trivia from the language menu and youll see the film in full 5.1 with VH1 Pop Up Video style boxes with trivia about the actors showing up. There is also a music video by Haku, Don Hos teenage daughter and the usual trailers. Not only is this a completely enjoyable film the presentation makes excellent use of the capabilities of the DVD media.