Neil Young’s Film Lounge – Legally Blonde



USA 2001
director : Robert Luketic
script : Karen McCullah Lutz, Kirsten Smith (based on novel by Amanda Brown)
cinematography : Anthony B Richmond
editing : Anita Brandt Burgoyne, Garth Craven
music : Rolfe Kent
lead actors : Reese Witherspoon, Matthew Davis, Selma Blair, Luke Wilson
96 minutes

An enjoyably silly blend of Clueless and Erin Brockovich, surprise US box-office hit Blonde is a full-bore showcase for Witherspoon, the ferociously ambitious high-schooler Tracy Flick from Election. As Elle Woods, she’s like Tracys nicer but no less resourceful – Beverly Hills cousin, whose quest to win back her snobby ex (Davies) leads all the way to Harvard Law School. Tutors and students soon realise there’s much more to this extrovert fashion-plate than meets the eye, and when she’s finally let loose in courtroom her Rodeo Drive common-sense proves persuasive to judge and jury alike

There are, supposedly, other performers involved in this picture Blair and Wilson pop up as lame romantic distractions for Davies and Witherspoon respectively, while Raquel Welch and Jennifer (American Pie) Coolidge score cameos but its basically a tour-de-force for the relentlessly sunny Witherspoon. Shes a refreshing throwback to the golden era of cinema comediennes, which is just as well, since the direction and script are much more earthbound. The court scenes, for instance, only rarely approach the giddy lunacy of, say, Wild Things. Luketic wisely lets his star get on with her turn, but the screenplay adapted from a bestselling teen novel could surely have come up with a few more original obstacles to place in her steamrolling path.

In lesser hands, Elle could easily have grated on audiences nerves but, resplendent in an endless succession of colour-coordinated outfits (Elle favours fuchsia pink) Witherspoon manages the tricky feat of keeping this irrepressibly bouncy sorority-girl sympathetic. Of course, were never in doubt that she’s going to come up trumps, and it helps that anybody who stands in her way is caricatured as a fool, a frump or a crook. But Erin Brockovich, for all its Oscar glory, was rigged exactly the same way at least Blonde is supposed to be a broad, cartoonish farce.

10th October, 2001
(seen Oct-5-01, UGC Parrs Wood, Manchester)

by Neil Young