Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day 53: Legally Blonde (2001)

PG-13, 1 hr. 36 min. Directed by: Robert Luketic. Release Date: July 13, 2001. DVD Release Date: November 6, 2001. 

2001 was an interesting year for me… well, in retrospect, for all Americans. 2001 was my first full year as active duty with the Navy and it was the year I graduated from the DOD's language translation training program. As is usual with my timing, I finished my training a handful of weeks after 9/11. I had my worst birthday ever that year, which included a near-life ruining event that I'm ill inclined to go in to, although a bunch of folks reading this probably know what it is. 2001 was a year where I spent a lot of time in the theaters in a frantic effort to hide from the crap that was going on around me. Fortunately, there were plenty of good movies released in 2001, but in truth, I went to see this one in protest. Legally Blonde was a date movie, although it didn't go anywhere because of a remarkable lack of anything in common other than a love for movies. Jamie was a cool chick, and great to look at, but you really need something else to work with. We stayed friends until both of us transferred from California to Texas, but I was able to make fun of Jamie for almost two years because this was her choice of entertainment for entertainment. She made the claim that this was her revenge for Scary Movie. All the summer blockbusters to choose from, and she came up with a 90 minute homage to Barbie. I never once told her I enjoyed the movie and when we'd hang out at my place, I always made sure that I hid the DVD. If she'd found out, her wrath would have been horrible.

On the one hand, I love this movie. On the other hand, I'm really embarrassed about that. This isn't unusual. I have the same reaction to Mean Girls and The Vampire's Assistant. Unfortunately, the reasons why I love this movie are also the reasons that embarrass me. I love that Reese Witherspoon was able to play this… well, kind of stupid girl (I don't care that she has a 4.0 in her fashion design classes), play the character with charm and make it appealing despite the myriad of faults. Let's face it, there's nothing attractive about vanity, materialism, conceit, ignorance, excessive amounts of pink, or bobble-heads in general… but Elle has all of these traits in spades, and somehow I don't want her to die.

Elle, the lead, is pretty much the only character I like, with the arguable exception of manicurist and extreme bend-and-snapper Paulette Bonafante. America's favorite MILF has come a long way since she gained notoriety as Stiffler's mom, but I'm not sure this was an ascension. She's a pretty lady, but none of that comes through in the effort to make her seem dumb and white trashy. Regardless, she still cracks me up, and I've always wanted to see a movie entitled When the Bend and Snap Attacks. The rest of the character work sucks, and even some decent actors… well, okay like two decent actors and a bunch of fluff, doesn't stop that from being true. 

There are so many caricatures of people in the movie that I struggle to find any redeeming value in the film: vapid sorority girls, snooty rich folk, the working class portrayed as stupid, the list just goes on and on. If I was a feminist or worried about the image of Americans that's being shoveled overseas through our pop culture, I'd be a lot more concerned. The bottom line for me on this movie is that it's funny. Could it be insulting? Probably. But I have a hard time getting worked up about a movie that's trying (and succeeding) for cute and sweet, with way too much pink and teal in the mix.