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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Dumb Blonde --- Not!
by Betty Jo Tucker

Blondes of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but those "dumb blonde" jokes. Like this one. A blind man goes into a bar. He asks if anyone objects to him telling a joke about blondes. The bartender says, "I have blonde hair and weigh over 200 pounds." The woman sitting beside him adds, "Iím a blonde too. Iím a professional wrestler, and the bouncer is also blonde." The bartender inquires, "Do you still want to tell that joke?" "Nah," says the blind man. "I donít want to explain it three times."

If Elle Woods, as played delightfully by Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde, canít dispel this stereotype, no one can. Sheís just lost her boyfriend because sheís "too blonde." Warner (Matthew Davis) tells Elle he plans on becoming a political figure, so he needs a fiance whoís more "like Jackie, not Marilyn." Sure, theyíve had fun together, but itís time to get serious. After all, heís going to Harvard Law School in the fall. "If Iím gonna be a Senator by the time Iím 30, I need to stop dicking around," Warner explains.

Whatís a dumpee to do? Elle, who earned a degree in Fashion Design, decides to show Warner sheís just as smart as he is. Sheíll go to Harvard too. Like Mae West in days of yore, Elle has no problem with self-esteem. Why should she? Sheís been a homecoming queen, an honor student, a runner-up for Miss Hawaiian Tropic, and president of her sorority. "I grew up in Bel Air, right across the street from Aaron Spelling," Elle declares when someone suggests sheís no match for the Vanderbilt crowd. Gaining admission to Harvard may be a piece of cake for this clever cookie, but being accepted by the faculty and students there presents more of a challenge for her.

While not as extreme, I had a similar experience attending my first semester of college in New York City. As the butt of jokes about my western twang, I found it ironic being made fun of by people who said they would meet me "at toity tird and tird" for lunch. Like Elle, my choice of dress also caused amusement among the natives. Of course, she looked gorgeous in her bright colors, high heels, and tight skirts --- whereas my "saddle pants" did nothing for me. But I believe Elle and I represent sisters under all that denim and glitzy silk --- both trying to be taken seriously in a conservative academic world. No wonder I desperately wanted her to succeed.

Witherspoonís quirky performance as Elle almost matches her unforgettable portrayal of Tracey Flick, the obnoxious overachiever in Election. Because she was so convincing in that role, Iíve had trouble accepting her in other films (like Cruel Intentions and American Psycho). Thatís why Iím so surprised at the depth of my reaction to her fine work here. I love the way she infused Elle with energy while showing the young womanís growth as a law student. Also, her style and flair seemed so right for this character. I could hardly wait for each new scene to see what she would be wearing next! But more subtle things, like her warmth toward a nerdy classmate and her convincing frown at Warner --- as he sits by new girlfriend (Selma Blair) during classroom sessions --- helped me think of Elle as a real person, not the flashy Malibu Barbie she resembles.

Legally Blonde is no Paper Chase. But it does deliver such serious messages as: donít judge a book by its cover; believe in yourself; and, most important of all, donít discriminate against people because of the color of their hair.

(Released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and rated "PG-13" for language and sexual references.)

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