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Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (Special Edition) DVD Review

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (Special Edition)

October 9, 2003

Director: Charles Herman-Wurmfeld,
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Sally Field, Regina King, Jennifer Coolidge, Bruce McGill, Dana Ivey, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Jessica Cauffiel, Alanna Ubach, J Barton, Stanley Anderson, Bruce Thomas, Bob Newhart, Luke Wilson, Ruth Williamson, ,

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DVD Review

With the box office success of Legally Blonde (2001), a sequel was inevitable. Its star, Reese Witherspoon, has since become a major Hollywood player with the power and clout to create and control her own projects. As a result, the sequel is bigger and more expensive but is it as good?

Elle Wood (Witherspoon) is about to get married to the love of her life, Emmett (Wilson). For some reason that involves Martha Stewart etiquette, she decides to locate her dog’s mother. She finds her in a test lab being experimented on for a cosmetics company. Horrified by this experience, Elle decides to save the dog and all of the other test animals.

After failing to convince the firm that she works for to help with her cause, they fire her for not being a “serious lawyer.” She takes her fight all the way to Capitol Hill where she aggressively lobbies for a bill to save test animals. This pits her against Congresswoman Libby Hauser (Field) who has her own agenda and sees Elle’s bill as a threat.

Right from the start something feels off about this sequel. Where the first film populated its soundtrack with catchy pop tunes, the sequel opts for traditional orchestration throughout with only the occasional pop song. Elle’s little pink world—complete with its own upbeat theme song—from the first movie is gone. It had songs that went with most scenes while this one lacks the proper music to maintain a certain mood.

Legally Blonde 2 relies on the same physical props (i.e. Elle’s dog, her outfits), the same cute jokes and the same physical gags from the first film. The problem with this is, if the filmmakers are going to reuse and repeat the same bits then they should also maintain the same world. The missing pop music from the first film and the weak writing makes everything feel forced and unnatural.

Reese Witherspoon does a fine job as the plucky heroine with an inexhaustible supply of optimism but one feels like there is no real danger of her failing as there was in the first film. Sadly, Luke Wilson is given barely any screen time and his appearance feels like a glorified cameo. Also, the absence of Selma Blair (Elle’s best friend in the first film) is tangible. Her presence in this film is sorely missed.

Special Features:

There is an audio commentary by actors Jennifer Coolidge, Jessica Cauffiel and Alanna Ubach—Elle Woods’ best friends and personal confidantes in the movie. They joke around a lot in this informal track with Coolidge delivering the bulk of the interesting factoids (such as they are). As with many cast commentaries there tends to be a lot of inside jokes and references that only seem funny to them.

“Blonde Ambition” is a light and breezy look at the making of the movie. The film was Witherspoon’s baby in that it was the first film made by her production company. She executive produced the movie, working on it from the script stages and handpicking the director, Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, based on his work on the indie sensation, Kissing Jessica Stein (2001).

Also included on the disc are seven deleted scenes, including a much better original opening that wasn’t used. It’s too bad because the scene is much stronger than the lame scrapbook opening that made the final cut. Introductions and/or optional commentaries putting each scene into its proper context or explaining why they were cut would have been a nice touch.

“Gag Reel” is a ho-hum montage of blown lines and random goofs on the set.

The video for one of the few pop tunes to appear in the film, “We Can” by LeAnn Rimes, is included on the disc. It’s your basic music video of Rimes performing intercut with clips from the film.

“Welcome to Delta Nu” is an interactive quiz where several cast members ask trivia questions from the movie that the viewer has to answer correctly in order to achieve a good score. This is a cute and clever extra that keeps in tone with the colouful mood of the movie.

Finally, there is a behind-the-scenes photo gallery.

With very few exceptions, sequels to successful comedies are doomed to fail. Trying to recapture the magic and what made the first film so funny is extremely hard to do. Case in point: Fletch Lives (1989) Ghostbusters 2 (1989) and Blues Brothers 2000 (1998). Unfortunately, Legally Blonde 2 falls into the same trap as these films. Bigger budgets on a more ambitious scale don’t always equal a comedic masterpiece. While there is no doubt that Reese Witherspoon’s heart was in the right place, the script does not work well in recreating the world and its characters that everyone fell in love with in the first film.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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Rating: 60%

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