Aneesh Chaganty

Movie #150 Legally Blonde

In Uncategorized on February 27, 2011 at 7:36 AM

Movie #150 Legally Blonde

(2001, US, d. Robert Luketic)

It’s weird to praise an actress after a seemingly easy role like Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, but I actually think it was quite a challenging role to play. On the surface, she’s your stereotypical sorority blonde. But beneath that, there is a yearning for dignity and respect that she carries throughout the film. Sometimes I can’t find the right words, so here is a better version of what I intended on saying, borrowed from a review of the film posted on the website “Anomolous Material”:

Compelling from start to finish, Witherspoon is a born comedian equally adept at verbal and physical comedy. She delivers her deadpan zingers with precise comic timing and elevates even the lamest lines of dialogue. She manages to be ditsy and goofy in personality, yet all her performances shine with an intelligence, and dignity underneath, making her on-screen transformation all the more believable. The only reason Legally Blonde works is because we are watching an intelligent actress play dumb –She is in on the jokes and laughing with us– and not the other way around, a lesson that Hollywood casting directors don’t seem to ever get.

The movie’s script itself is passable at best, the soundtrack filled with teenage girl songs, and even the talented supporting cast – including Selma Blair, the great Victor Garber, Luke Wilson, and Jennifer Coolidge –  never really settles into their stereotypical characters. The movie is painfully predictable and it is only thanks to Ms. Witherspoon that the cheesy one-liners are funny. Her performance is grounded in reality and filled with so much life you can’t help but cheer for her, for this painfully average story, and for this painfully girly script. And by doing so, it becomes better than average. In fact, as it was declared after its opening weekend, it becomes a sleeper hit.

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