|Friday, July 04, 2003
|A fluffy comedy with a steely star
Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde
|"Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde" really isn't much of a movie, but that fact won't hinder rising Hollywood power Reese Witherspoon.
By BETH JONES
THE ROANOKE TIMES
When Gloria Steinem dreamed about the day women would finally get their due in politics, I don't think she imagined they would be preaching to Americans about the importance of having good communication with their hairdressers.
"America's favorite blonde," Elle Woods, has hit the nation's capital. She is less concerned with eradicating the pink-collar ghetto than arranging the pink doilies on her desk.
Fans of the original need not worry that "Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde" will be political just because it's set in Washington. This sequel to "Legally Blonde" is the very definition of a mindless summer movie.
Directed by Charles Herman-Wurmfeld ("Kissing Jessica Stein"), "Red, White and Blonde" succeeds - just barely - as a comedy because of Reese Witherspoon, who in Elle has created a character so darn likable she holds the audience's attention no matter how silly the story gets.
And it gets pretty silly indeed.
After learning that a cosmetics company is testing its products on the birth mother of her beloved Chihuahua, Bruiser, Elle goes to Washington to put a stop to animal testing.
The legislative aides take one look at her bubble-gum pink suit and dislike her immediately. The Hill's power players give her an equally cold shoulder. But with a French manicure and help from her little dog too, Elle can win over any crowd.
Aside from one pitiful Monica Lewinsky gag, writer Kate Kondell steers clear of political humor. But the D.C. setting did compel her to have the movie champion a cause, which is that Americans need to be more involved in politics, or that everyone should embrace their individuality, or something. Things get particularly muddled in the end during a "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"-inspired scene in which Elle delivers a nauseatingly silly speech that all but kills the movie's fun factor.
Good casting helps offset the middling-to-terrible screenplay. Back on the big screen where she belongs, Sally Field is perfect as a Hillary-esque congresswoman too wrapped up in the political game to stick to her convictions. As Sid, a doorman and Elle's political mentor, Bob Newhart turns in his funniest role yet.
Luke Wilson doesn't do much with the handful of lines he gets as Elle's dreamboat, Emmett. But Jennifer Coolidge, who also starred in the original, milks her tiny role as Elle's hot-dog-loving pal Paulette for big laughs.
"Legally Blonde" costume designer Sophie de Rakoff Carbonell assembled an Oscar-worthy wardrobe for the sequel. No doubt Elle's suits - part Jackie O, part Barbie - will influence next fall's fashion trends.
But stiletto heels don't make the woman, and Witherspoon's gummy grin is no doubt the secret to the sequel's success.
In the real world, Elle's insistence on writing legislative bills on pink paper wouldn't catapult her to the White House the way the film's too-cute ending suggests. But while she does play an airhead, Witherspoon is one of the smartest and most driven women in Hollywood. After watching her feature debut in "The Man in the Moon" in 1991, few would have predicted she'd one day be a superstar with her own production company. And yet here she is. If Witherspoon set her sights on the Oval Office, no doubt she would get there.
BETH JONES can be reached at 777-6493 or email@example.com.
Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde
At Valley View Grande 16, Carmike 10 at Tanglewood Mall, Salem Valley 8 and the Grandin Theatre. Rated PG-13 for some mild sex-related humor. One hour, 34 minutes.