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Published: Thursday, 7/12/2001

Legally Blonde: Witherspoon is, like, way cool

BY CHRISTY LEMIRE
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Ohmygod, you guys. I saw the BEST movie the other day. It was a-DOR-able.

It's called Legally Blonde, and it's about this blonde sorority girl who becomes a lawyer and saves the day. (Of course. How could she not?)

The movie is a lot like 1995's Clueless, which was also totally cute, in that it has a brain and a heart. And like its heroine, it's a lot smarter than it looks. Hopefully, it'll do more for Reese Witherspoon's career than Clueless did for Alicia Silverstone's. (Hull-o? Anyone remember Excess Baggage?)

Witherspoon plays the fabulously dressed and perfectly coifed Elle Woods: president of the Delta Nu sorority, Miss June in the campus calendar, AND she has a 4.0 grade point average. OK, so her major is, like, fashion merchandising. The girl is an expert on varying shades of pink.

Elle thinks her gorgeous boyfriend, Warner Huntington III (Matthew Davis), is going to pop the question over a special dinner, but he dumps her instead, telling her that his dreams of being a politician demand that he have a more substantial mate - whatever THAT means.

“If I'm going to be a senator by the time I'm 30, I need to stop [messing] around,” Warner tells Elle as she cries in her champagne.

One day at the salon, she gets the BEST idea - she'll show Warner she can be all serious and stuff by following him to Harvard Law School!

She studies super hard for the law school entrance exam, which her best friends (Jessica Cauffiel and Alanna Ubach) TOTALLY don't understand.

And the video she makes to go with her application is hys-TER-ical. She had a Coppola direct it, and she appears dressed in an array of sequined bikinis, spouting legal terms as well as the latest Days of Our Lives developments.

Her dad doesn't see the point. “Law school is for people who are boring and ugly and serious, and you, button, are none of those things,” he tells her, an ever-present martini in hand.

But she gets in! She totally doesn't fit in at first, especially toting her a-DOR-able Chihuahua everywhere she goes, dressed in a matching outfit.

And she's nothing like those uptight East Coast students - especially Vivian Kensington (Selma Blair, who co-starred with Witherspoon in the 1999 guilty pleasure Cruel Intentions) that horrible blue-blooded snob Warner is dating.

But her keen intuition, unbeatable enthusiasm, and impeccable sense of style see her through. She even helps out on a murder trial. How cool is THAT?

(OK, so the movie does drag a bit here, but you can't have everything, you know?)

Witherspoon showed in 1999's Election how complete she can make a character, how she can turn somebody annoying into a sympathetic figure you want to cheer for.

Elle isn't nearly as obnoxious as overachieving Tracy Flick in Election, but she is interminably perky, which would be hard to tolerate on anyone else. Witherspoon appears in nearly every frame of the movie, and she positively sparkles.

Legally Blonde is the feature film debut of director Robert Luketic, and he did SUCH an awesome job!

Screenwriters Karen McCullah Lutz (a blonde former sorority girl who took fashion merchandising classes) and Kirsten Smith give her great things to say, and they inject so many cute details.

Her resume is pink - and scented. “I think it gives it a little something extra,” she explains to a law professor, smiling. And when she picks up the cordless phone, it's covered in fluffy pink fur.

As a young lawyer working with Elle, Luke Wilson doesn't get to do much but play the straight man, which is too bad because he was so good in Bottle Rocket and in small roles in Rushmore and My Dog Skip.

Jennifer Coolidge, though, is way better here as a frumpy, insecure manicurist than in recent roles in Pootie Tang and Down to Earth - maybe because she has better material to work with, DUH.

You don't have to have a law degree to figure THAT out.



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