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Legally Blonde 2:
Red White and Blonde (PG-13)
MGM
Official Site
Director: Charles Herman-Wurmfeld
Producers: David Nicksay, Marc E. Platt
Written by: Eve Ahlert, Dennis Drake, Kate Kondell, Amanda Brown
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Bob Newhart, Sally Field, Regina King, Jennifer Coolidge, Luke Wilson, Moondoggie

Rating: out of 5


Arianna Huffington isn’t going to love me. Huffington recently penned a column in which she stated that anyone who doesn’t get that warm, fuzzy feeling from the further adventures of Elle Woods is probably emotionally deadened and definitely not her kind of person. Ms. Woods (Witherspoon), last seen at her Harvard law school graduation, now takes on the Washington establishment in a quixotic cause—animal testing. The idea that any legislator would seriously sign on to such legislation in these parlous Republican times clues the viewer that this is fantasy, yet Legally Blonde 2 does not possess sufficient charm to allow one to let go of logic and just have a good time. Actually, it was dead boring.

Too bad. Witherspoon is a young actress with a lot going for her. This, after all, is the woman whose wonderful talents gave us Tracy Flick of Election, the slutty sister of Pleasantville, the girlfriend of American Psycho. It’s a shame she’s squandering these talents on easy paychecks like the dreadful Sweet Home Alabama, which should have led Southerners everywhere to rise again in outrage, and the Legally Blonde franchise.

It’s also too bad that Eve Ahlert and Dennis Drake should have been entangled in this debacle. Having proven themselves adroit at silly spoofing with their script for Down With Love, they were promoted to the varsity-level fluffery of Legally Blonde 2, where they fumbled the ball.

In LB2, Woods’ plans for her gala wedding come a cropper when, while composing the guest list, she discovers that the mother of her chihuahua, Bruiser (Moondoggie), is imprisoned in the VERSACE animal-testing labs. (That’s VEt Research And Critter Exploitation, and the use of this far-fetched name as an emblem of badness must be nothing compared to the exposure to be gained from frequent, prominent mention in this movie.) Her proposal to challenge animal testing costs Elle her job at a swanky law firm, and leads her to take Bruiser’s fight to the real arena—Congress. Landing in the office of Massachusetts Congresswoman Victoria Rudd (Field, to whom plucky Elle does bear a perky resemblance), Elle drafts the legislation and is promptly bitch-slapped by anti-blonde prejudice and “procedure,” in the person of Rudd’s top aide, the by-the-book, no-nonsense Grace (King). Naturally it’s up to Elle to subvert the process and show that one person who cares can Make A Difference. This is undoubtedly the part of the movie that got Ms. Huffington so choked up that she favorably compared these 95 minutes of exposed film to Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.

There are many ways in which LB2 falls far short of Frank Capra’s classic, but I particularly wish to address one, as it’s one that has haunted a number of recent movies—plots that have simple-minded, symmetrical shit? Every door that opens must, eventually, be seen to close. Surely the industry cannot be well-served by steady production of movies that rigidly conform to a convention that makes for great fairy-tale storytelling but insipid films. I am a frequent moviegoer, I’m not well-served by it, and I lay the blame on the need to secure a PG-13 rating. Those who are too young to get into R-rated movies drive production. No offense, kids, but stuff is being dumbed down in order to target you as an audience, and frankly, you should be offended. End of rant, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Actually, LB2 is much more like a plate of leftovers from Legally Blonde, than the continuing adventures of. If you liked the first serving—and I confess to having been underwhelmed and unamused by it—there’ll be something tasty for you in what they’re dishing out here. There’ll be a sort of a makeover. There’ll be important stuff that happens at a salon. Stuff will get done via non-traditional networking.

Jennifer Coolidge is back. Normally Coolidge’s presence is good news, but here she’s a disappointing caricature of the Paulette of the first movie. Luke Wilson just walks on and walks off, in a very small role as Emmett, Elle’s intended. You’d never know this was the same guy whose take on obsessive love in The Royal Tenenbaums was simultaneously touching and funny. Consummately professional Bob Newhart shows up as Elle’s Fairy Godfather, a doorman who coaches her through Capitol quagmires and gives her legislative tips for no good reason. Guess that’s just what Fairy Godfathers do. At any rate, Newhart’s left eyebrow is funnier than the rest of the cast, put together. Sally Field seems to be trading a lot of really fine acting work for guest-shots in popular filmed entertainment. Here, she gets to do little more than walk in and walk out, but at least they gave her some fabulous suits to do it in.

I took cheer in the last quarter of the movie from some nifty ’60s-style kaleidoscopic shots of buildings and buses merging and splitting apart, but one shouldn’t have to rely on literal eye candy for one’s jollies. Dog fanciers will find ample opportunities to enjoy shots of well-groomed dogs performing cute stunts, and will no doubt be heartened, in the face of the Supremes’ recent decision in Lawrence et al. v. Texas, to see that the rights of gay and lesbian animal companions are not ignored in our nation’s Capitol. There’s also yet another cinematic use of the tired refrain, “bow-wow-wow, yippie-yo, yippie-yay, bow-wow, yippie-yo, yippie-yay.”

I’m spitting into the wind here, but I have to tell you that Legally Blonde 2 is a dreadful movie. It’s a waste of your time and Reese Witherspoon’s talents. It’s boring and unfunny. Why don’t you rent Election instead? After all, Tracy Flick goes to Washington…

—Roxanne Bogucka

 

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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