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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Directed by Robert Luketic
MGM/UA 07/01 DVD/VHS Feature Film
PG-13 - language and sexual references
From the moment a snooty clerk in a store classifies Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) as a "dumb blonde with daddy's plastic" to the end of the film where our heroine has achieved more than she ever expected and deepened along the way, this perky comedy cautions us to eschew lazy and irresponsible stereotyping of people. Everyone has inner flair if we only take the time and interest to look closely.
Elle Woods is president of her sorority on the CULA campus, a runner-up for Miss Hawaiian Tropic, and a fashion merchandising major. Everything seems hunky-dory for this cheerful young woman who is eagerly looking forward to a marriage proposal from Warner (Matthew Davis), her preppie boyfriend who's heading off to Harvard Law School. But instead he pulls the rug out from under her dreams by dumping her. "If I'm going to be a senator," he explains, "I need to marry a Jackie, not a Marilyn."
With a zeal fueled by righteous indignation, Elle hunkers down and does what it takes to gain entrance into the hallowed gates in Cambridge. The school, looking for diversity, accepts her and she arrives in a Porsche followed by a moving van. Her plan to prove to Warner that she has what it takes to be his mate is dealt a blow when he introduces her to Vivian (Selma Blair), his blue-blooded fiancée. who immediately decides to treat Elle like dirt.
Shunned by her classmates who view her as a ditz, Elle finds an ally in Emmett (Luke Wilson), an advanced law student who sees her potential, and a friend in Paulette (Jennifer Coolidge), a manicurist with poor self-esteem. Things really turn around when Professor Callahan (Victor Garber) chooses her to be one of four interns working with him on the high-profile murder case of an infomercial fitness queen (Brooke Taylor-Windmark) accused of killing her husband. Elle uses her encyclopedic knowledge of body care and fashion details to good effect.
Robert Luketic directs this buoyant comedy based on a screenplay by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith. Rachel Naomi Remen has written: "We are all here for a single purpose: to grow in wisdom and learn to love better. We can do this through losing as well as through winning, by having and not having, by succeeding or failing. All we need to do is show up open hearted for class." That's exactly what Elle does. Thanks to the dazzling performance by Reese Witherspoon, we realize that a person with her inner flair (and blonde hair) can accomplish almost anything.
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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