Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sex-related humor
Running Time: 95 min.
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Sally Field, Bob Newhart, Luke Wilson, Jennifer Coolidge, Regina King,
Director: Charles Herman-Wurmfield
Screenplay: Kate Kondell
Review published July 3, 2003
I never thought I'd see Reese Witherspoon (Sweet Home Alabama, The Importance of Being Earnest) in a comedy she couldn't save, but Legally Blonde 2 finally puts her into a script so contrived, not even she can charm her way out of. But she does come close, because a film this hackneyed could only be driven through charm alone, and even if the overall film falls short, it's so good-natured and fun in spots that you almost are willing to forgive just how weak much of it really is.
Reese returns as Elle Woods, now a Harvard grad, who finds herself jobless when she can't get her law firm to commit to taking on a cosmetics company that has been using animals to test their products, one of these furry friends being the mother of Elle's beloved chihuahua, Bruiser. Because the company isn't breaking any rules, legally speaking, Elle decides that the laws must be changed, and she takes her fight straight to the heart of Washington D.C., where she seeks to push forward a bill against animal testing.
The first Legally Blonde wasn't really a good film, but it definitely had its moments, enough to make it a worthwhile viewing for those times when you want a dessert rather than a heavy meal. With the sequel, the Blonde team have a notion to give us our cake and make us eat a meal too, with its message against animal testing, as well as its skepticism about a political system that would cut deals and look the other way to a cause most people worthy of debate. Luckily, LB2 delivers this message with a tongue-in-cheek style that makes it go down easy, without the hangover of preachiness generally associated with grandstanding comedies of this variety.
There are a couple of decent laughs to be had, and about a dozen or so smiles, but unlike its predecessor, Legally Blonde 2 has several stretches of scenes where the levity and mirth take a break, leaving us a bit bored when there's not much going on except some necessary explanations in order to make this ambitious plot work. In an actual biting political satire, such quiet time is wholly acceptable, yet it somehow feels like dead weight in a movie so cotton candy that any amount of pressure at all is bound to threaten a collapse.
Much of the publicity for this film came from Reese's sizable $15 million price tag, and she's worth every penny because she clearly is the main attraction for anyone wanting to see this film. It would have been nice if they could have also brought in the director and screenwriters of the first film, because there's definitely a few problems with the production here. Normally, I could forgive a bit of sloppiness, but Legally Blonde 2 is rife with continuity errors, from gestures and hands that move around from scene to scene to hairstyles that seem to have a life of their own. Kissing Jessica Stein's Charles Herman-Wurmfield takes the director's chair, and does a workable job, but has a problem keeping proper cohesion to first-time screenwriter Kate Kondell's script.
If you are able to accept Legally Blonde 2 for its occasional lulls, there's a good chance you will be able to find enough entertainment to make this worth your while, especially if you like the first film. Reese Witherspoon is still fun to watch, with an energy and charisma that commands strong favor, but she is talented enough to warrant something much better to play in than this well-meaning retread of the first film. Like most sequels, it doesn't quite live up to the original, but its not so bad that real fans won't find proper enjoyment. If you're only looking for an amusing diversion, and a few laughs, you'll probably get what you pay for, no more and no less. Now that Reese has enough money to last a while, let's hope she'll be able to make something that utilizes her gifts as a comedienne, and an actress, to a much better extent.
- Followed by Legally Blondes
©2003 Vince Leo