Legally Blonde 2 : Red White & Blonde
Harvard's fave hot-pink grad goes to Washington to defend animal rights and keep four-legged critters out of the hands of evil cosmetics testers.
Legally Blonde, with its ditzy charm, more than implausible (but still fun) plot and likeable characters, launched Reese Witherspoon's career into the stratosphere--let's hope Blonde 2 doesn't bring it plummeting back down to earth. When last we left sunny Elle Woods, she'd surprised everyone--including herself--by graduating from Harvard Law School while maintaining her principles and earning fellow students' respect. In the sequel, Elle is on the brink of making it big in her job at a law firm until she decides animal rights are her new cause--you see, her beloved Chihuahua Bruiser's mom has been found as a subject in a cosmetics testing lab, and Elle needs to get her out in time for her impending wedding to Emmett (Luke Wilson). After the firm fires her, Elle decides it's time to change animal testing laws, so she hits Washington to join the staff of Representative Rudd (Sally Field) as a lobbyist. As sweet as she is callow, our girl Elle soon learns politics makes strange bedfellows, and when all doesn't go as planned, she calls on all her allies--Sid the doorman (Bob Newhart), Paulette the stylist (Jennifer Coolidge), her Delta Nu sorority sisters and, unexpectedly, a few Washington higher-ups to help pass ''Bruiser's Bill'' and free animals everywhere.
Witherspoon is saddled with the unenviable task of having to carry this mess of a movie, which falls way below the standard set by the first (which, while no Oscar contender, was amusingly original and delightfully heartfelt). We are well aware of the formula here: Elle's going to get what she wants, whether by default or design, and win over even her enemies in the process. What happened to Elle on the way to Washington? She's a style-obsessed dingbat, true--but she did graduate from law school with determination, hard work and some luck. Here she is so incredibly, unbelievably stupid and naïve you'd think she was sending up her own character--this film has her almost completely relying on her rich friends, well-placed connections and incidental accidents to get what she wants, instead of using what was intriguing about this character in the first place--a self-awareness that yes, she's a ditz, but she knows how to use her type of smarts to accomplish goals. Sadly, Witherspoon's once-charming character is so dumbed-down even the savviest actress couldn't overcome its problems. As for the supporting cast, Wilson is lackluster as Emmett, Coolidge's stylist has some of the--if not the only--funniest lines in the film, and Regina King gives a solid performance as staffer Grace, Elle's enemy, as does Field as convincingly sly Rep. Rudd.
Somebody at MGM should have snatched the rose-colored-lensed camera out of director Charles Herman-Wurmfeld's (Kissing Jessica Stein) hands at the first sight of the dailies. We've got: a nearly brain-dead heroine, hackneyed supporting characters, a contrived plot and gay dogs. That's right, gay dogs. Nothing says ''I believe in animal rights'' like dressing your male dog in pink tutus and carrying him around in a pet purse--that's dignity for you. Herman-Wurmfeld's confectioner-sweet, pink cloud concoction is so sticky syrupy and air-popped, you may find yourself floating in your theater seat, it's so much fluffy entertainment. What's kind of odd is that all this fluff is juxtaposed with the downright dull storyline of getting a bill passed through Congress--funny movie fodder that's not. On the flip side, you won't find yourself feeling bored as much as guilty for laughing at its few admittedly laugh-out-loud scenes.
Reese Witherspoon's sincerest, most gallant efforts aside, Legally Blonde 2 is as light and sugary as cotton candy, but the taste it leaves behind is more saccharine than sweet.