The movies are rife with characters who are stereotypes.
In most films, these stereotypes serve to reinforce people's beliefs that
if a person looks a certain way, they will also have certain other characteristics.
Of course, stereotypes can be used in satire to point out these fallacies.
Legally Blonde is such an attempt to use satire to show that the
widely held stereotype that all blondes are bimbos is false. That
it fails so miserably, shows that Legally Blonde is, in fact, not
satire but just a low-brow comedy that gets its laughs (few and far between)
by making fun of and reinforcing the many stereotypes of our society including
bimbos, gays, dumb guys and lechers. At its worst, this film is anti-male,
anti-female, anti-gay and anti-intellectual. And it's not very funny.
Ok, you may be getting the idea that I didn't like Legally Blonde that
much. This film is the story of a blonde, sorority girl, Elle Woods
(Reese Witherspoon) who is dumped by her boyfriend just before graduation.
He is off to Harvard Law School
and wants to marry a Jackie-Kennedy-type to further his career. Elle,
sporting a 4.0 in Fashion Merchandising, vows to follow her Ex to Harvard
and win him back. She aces her LSAT and sends a video essay featuring
herself in a bikini. This so impresses the admission guys at Harvard
Law that they accept her. She arrives in Cambridge, looking as one
student comments, like Malibu
Barbie. The other law students look, well, like law students.
Anyway, she learns right away that her ex-boyfriend is already engaged
to a fellow law student who is more the Jackie type. And as soon
as you see her, you realize that, well, she might actually be a better
catch than Elle. And since we already know that her boyfriend is
a doofus, we know that Elle and the new fiancee will bond by the end of
the film. Anyway, after a rocky start where Elle learns that she's
actually expected to study in law school, she becomes a star student.
We just have to accept on faith that she's a genius because other than
in class, she never shows that much intelligence. To make a long
story short, she gets hired by one of her professors to help defend a woman
accused of murder. The professor turns out to have hired her for
her looks not her smarts but Elle, of course, wins the day by proving the
innocence of the accused. To say that there are no surprises in this
movie is a bit of an understatement. The only examples of Elle's
legal knowledge that are displayed in the courtroom are, that she knows
that one male witness must be gay because he knows the brand of her shoes
(really busting stereotypes there) and that another witness is lying because
she claims to have been in the shower right after getting a perm.
Then to top it off, we get our happy ending where Elle spurns the ex-boyfriend
when he is cut loose by the fiancee. However, after we see her give
the valedictory address for her law class, again supposedly showing us
how smart she is, the last thing we hear is that her new boyfriend is about
to propose to her. So it's OK, she got her man after all. The only
thing that makes this movie watchable is the performance of Reese Witherspoon
who, almost but not quite, makes her character two-dimensional. The
rest of the cast is decidedly one-dimensional. Witherspoon is very
good but she needs to watch out how she is picking her parts. After Election
and Legally Blonde, I think she is getting a bit typecast as
the perky student. There are a couple of laughs. In one scene,
Elle sits in class surrounded by a sea of PC laptops while typing on her
Mac iBook. But the movie
rarely takes good advantage of the setup. A recent comedy that did
a better job of sending up these kinds of stereotypes was Miss
Congeniality. It may have worked better just because it was funnier.
When you see Legally Blonde, you will be reminded of Clueless,
the update of Jane Austen's
Emma that starred Alicia Silverstone.
Clueless was clever and well done and was a nice sendup of high school
girls, fashion and relationships. For some reason, that film rings
true while Legally Blonde does not. Legally Blonde
just keeps hammering home its message that bimbos are good, women who show
they are smart but don't look like Barbie are bad, and men are either stupid,
nasty or gay latino pool boys. Have a nice day....