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MGM Studios DVD presents
Legally Blonde (2001)

Dr. Callahan: Do you have a resume?
Elle: Yes, I do. Here it is.
Dr. Callahan: It's pink.
Elle: And it's scented. I think it gives it a little something extra.

- Victor Garber, Reese Witherspoon

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: October 29, 2001

Stars: Reese Witherspoon
Other Stars: Luke Wilson, Selma Blair, Matthew Davis, Victor Garber, Jennifer Coolidge, Holland Taylor, Ali Larter
Director: Robert Luketic

Manufacturer: DVCC
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language and sexual references
Run Time: 01h:35m:34s
Release Date: November 06, 2001
UPC: 027616868268
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B+A-B+ B+

DVD Review

I firmly believe that blonde is really just a state of mind. There is no specific quality inherent in the naturally blonde; rather, Hollywood has created the blonde archetype over the years. Somewhere along the line, it became a term of derision. Blondes had more fun, but less brains. Not just the natural ones. Bottle blondes can be stupid, too. Yeah! But I say, why's it have to be a pejorative? Can't we think of it more as, say, a charming naivetÈ? Sure, they may think only about fashion and boys (tee-hee), but is that such a bad thing? (Note: in an effort to avoid angry emails, I'd like to point out that the preceding paragraph was written by a blonde who thinks of little more than DVD and girls, which is probably pretty comparable).

Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) is firmly cocooned in a world of peroxide. She's president of her sorority, at the head of her class as a fashion major, and dating hunky pre-law stud Warner (Matthew Davis). Just when Elle believes Warner is going to propose, however, he turns around and dumps her. "If I'm going to be a senator someday, I need to marry a Jackie, not a Marilyn," he says. "So you're dumping me because I'm too blonde?" she retorts. "What, cause my boobs are too big?" And though he assures her that her boobs are fine, he still ends the relationship. Determined to prove that she is just as serious and capable as anyone else Warner might date (like some "stupid Vanderbilt," Elle manages to get herself accepted to Harvard Law, where she'll have to decide if being a lawyer and impressing Warner is worth giving up pink Prada pumps and a fuzzy purse.

The script for Legally Blonde was penned by Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith, the same team behind the oft-admired 10 Things I Hate About You, and they've written another crowd pleaser. It's full of snappy dialogue and amusing characters, and the whole thing has a sense of bubbly innocence about it. True, the finale is a bit ridiculous, but the character of Elle is so well drawn that, when it comes, it doesn't feel forced. Much praise too goes to first time helmer Robert Luketic, an Australian known previously only for short films. His direction matches the energy in the script, and he handles things with a quick pace without losing sight of the character moments.

It's usually considered somewhat of an insult to say that an actor carries a film, but I say this about Reese Witherspoon while meaning no disrespect towards the writers or director. Witherspoon, who has been a favorite of mine since I saw her in Election and Pleasantville, plays the best blonde since Alicia Silverstone took on Cher in Clueless. She's exaggeratedly perky, but Elle never feels like a caricature. Your enjoyment of this film will be proportionally related to your feelings of adoration towards Witherspoon. I loved her. I mean, it.

The supporting cast does little more than provide background noise when Elle isn't speaking, but it's full of excellent character actors. Jennifer Coolidge is involved in a rather dorky subplot involving a UPS deliveryman, but she exhibits the same great comedic timing on display in Best in Show. Selma Blair does a fine job with the villain role, and Elle's best friends (played by Jessica Cauffiel and Allana Ubach) are hilarious (Margot: Here, it's my lucky scrunchie. It helped me pass Spanish. Serena: You passed Spanish because you gave the professor a lap dance. Margot: Yeah, luckily.). Matthew Davis and love interest Luke Wilson are both fairly bland, but Victor Garber has fun with the role of oily professor.

Legally Blonde isn't a great movie, but it is great fun to watch. Most of the jokes work, and Witherspoon is a delight. If you're looking for a diverting comedy, I sentence you to 90 minutes with this movie (with possible time off for pee breaks).

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno
Anamorphicyesno


Image Transfer Review: The new trend for an MGM special edition release is to include both widescreen and full frame transfers on one dual-layer side, and the extras on the other, single layered side (aka DVD-14). Therefore, this disc includes both the 2.35:1 version and a Super 35 full-frame version. Both transfers exhibit bright, eye-popping color, saturated, but with no apparent bleeding. Blacks are deep and shadow detail is excellent. Fine detail is excellent, and most scenes look very sharp, yet exhibit no obvious edge enhancement. Here and there, I did spot some minor digital artifacting and some mosquito noise, but only in one or two shots, and nothing too distracting.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Spanishno
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Legally Blonde, like nearly every other comedy, does not have the most dynamic of sound mixes, but what's here is perfectly suited to the film. The front soundstage is wide, with good dynamics and directionality, but the surround use is only fair, mostly offering support for the score and the pop heavy soundtrack. Dialogue is well integrated into the mix and always sounds clear, with no obvious instances of ADR.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Princess Bride
8 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by director Robert Luketic, producer Marc Platt, actor Reese Witherspoon; costume designer Sophie de Rakoff Carbonell, production designer Melissa Stewart, director of photography Anthony B. Richmond, screenwriters Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith,
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Hoku music video Perfect Day
  2. Trivia track
Extras Review: Legally Blonde was a surprise summer hit for MGM, and they've treated it accordingly on DVD, granting the film a fashionable special edition that is so NOT last season.

Side one features two audio commentaries, both of rather average quality. I was looking forward to hearing the one with director Robert Luketic, producer Marc Platt, and actor Reese Witherspoon, but perhaps I set the bar too high. It's a fairly interesting listen, full of production stories and a few funny moments, but it's also rather slow in places. Witherspoon actually doesn't talk a whole lot, and is much more reserved than you'd expect. A bit better is the production commentary, with costume designer Sophie de Rakoff Carbonell, production designer Melissa Stewart, director of photography Anthony B. Richmond, screenwriters Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, and animal trainer Sue Chipperton. They don't all comment together, rather they divide the film into sections, and each person only comments over a few scenes. It starts rather slowly with the director of photography, but the production designer has some interesting things to say, and the section with the screenwriters and the animal trainer is probably the best.

Side one also features one of my favorite extras, a trivia track that, when activated, causes little colored boxes to pop up throughout the film, featuring fun, useless facts (I'm a veritable fountain of useless trivia, you know). It's corny stuff: stats on nail polish use among men and women, lists of former Hollywood blondes; but there are also a few on-set anecdotes sprinkled throughout.

Side two holds the bulk of the extras. First up are eight deleted scenes, most with a short introduction from the director. Most were cut for time or redundancy, though "Rollerblading" is worth a laugh. "No shoving on the skate path! Campus ordinance 22-G!"

Inside Legally Blonde is a better-than-average promotional EPK piece. It actually covers the genesis of the project quite well, and cuts most of the fluff. Check it out to hear from the novel's author, the screenwriters, and all the actors. The Hair That Ate Hollywood is a tongue-in-cheek piece on Witherspoon's vast array of hairstyles.

Finally, there's the trailer, a promo spot for the The Princess Bride DVD, and, wonder of wonders, a music video. But not just any music video. A music video featuring Hoku, the teen princess sprung from the loins of Don "Tiny Bubbles" Ho. The song is so-so, but look at all the pretty hair!

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

Legally Blonde is guilty of nothing more than being a pleasantly diverting summer comedy in the vein of Clueless and Bring It On. See it for laughs; see it for Reese Witherspoon; see it on DVD with a great transfer and a decent set of extras. And remember, "whoever said orange was the new pink was seriously mentally disturbed."

 


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