Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde (2003)

Directed by Charles Herman-Wurmfeld

In the world of light comedies, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde is about as light as they get.

It’s a follow up, as the number “2” suggests and, to steal from something I heard on TV this week, we should avoid movies with titles that end in numbers.

There is also an interesting comment in the Roger Ebert review of the first film, Legally Blonde. He says of that film that it is smart enough not to overstay its welcome.

This is essentially the problem with Legally Blonde 2, and most follow-ups for that matter. It’s simply too much of something that worked once, especially when what worked the first time was partly because of its brevity and breeziness.

In the sequel, Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) takes on Washington.

This is not to say I didn’t enjoy this movie. I did. It has some very funny moments. But overall, it is so lightweight it sometimes gets embarrassing.

The conceit of these films is that Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) appears to be an airhead blonde obsessed with fashion who, we suspect, is not as dumb as she seems – she often appears to be brilliant.

It’s an idea used in The Prince and the Showgirl which featured Marilyn Monroe as the lightweight blonde who turns out to be smarter than the supposedly brilliant Prince Lawrence Olivier plays.

It worked in the first Legally Blonde film partly because it was unexpected and partly because of Witherspoon’s precise performance. But it also worked because there was a very well-thought-out script.

Where Legally Blonde 2 really falls down is thinking it could be something more than a comedy – it could be a message film. It appears to want to be inspirational.

The sequel brings back characters from the original.

It does this because, I think, the filmmakers believe this is what the first film did. But if the first accomplished that it was by accident. It was never part of the film’s main thrust. It was simply a well-made funny film. (In fact, the “inspirational” final scene of the first film is probably its weakest moment.)

It’s usually a mistake to try to inspire. Films like these tend to be pompous and tedious, burdened by a heavy-handed earnestness. When they do succeed, they have a great deal of intelligence informing them.

Legally Blonde 2 doesn’t have this. It’s simply silly – and not in an intended, humorous way. It’s “message” has the depth of Hallmark card sentiment and about the same amount of credibility.

We don’t expect comedies to reflect reality or to be terribly believable. But in this case, it’s not simply not credible, it is almost stupid.

Legally Blonde 2 gets a little carried away with its use of pink and Elle's (Reese Witherspoon's) mile wide smile.

It’s as empty-headed as the Elle Woods character often appears to be but, unlike the character, there is no intelligence behind the facade.

In the first Legally Blonde I came away really liking Reese Witherspoon’s Elle Woods. Here, I still like her but not nearly as much.

The bloom is off the rose mainly because it is surrounded by plastic flowers.

On the whole, this is an entertaining film but entertaining in the way a sitcom can be. It’s a cotton candy.

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