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'Blonde' Does Not Pass the Bar
By Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 13, 2001


    'Legally Blonde' Reese Witherspoon and her chihuahua head to Harvard in "Legally Blonde."
(Metro Goldwyn Mayer)
"That was exactly what I expected," opined an audience member after a recent screening of "Legally Blonde," a mild fish-out-of-water comedy about a California deb (Reese Witherspoon) at Harvard Law. "You know, just like, cute laughs." Cute laughs? Look, popcorn breath, I need more than cute laughs. Life is full of cute laughs. I want full-body guffaws, the kind that make your shoulders shake and Sprite come out your nose. Alas, such mirth is in short supply in "Blonde," a film that's really nothing more than "Clueless" redux but without the edgy, knowing wit. And considering the fact that "Clueless" was Jane Austen's "Emma" minus the literary pedigree, that's a lot to do without.

Directed by first-timer Robert Luketic and penned by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, "Blonde" is one feature-length dumb-blonde joke, except the punch line here is that – get ready to go "awww!" – blondes aren't so dumb after all. When her East Coast boyfriend (Matthew Davis) dumps her for law school and a mousy brunette with a WASP-y pedigree (Selma Blair), ditsy college senior Elle Woods (Witherspoon, doing her best to look, sound and act stupid) finagles her way into Harvard in pursuit of that elusive Mrs. degree by submitting a near-perfect LSAT score and a video essay shot in a bikini. Anyone who's ever gone anywhere near a law school will recognize the cliches: Her classmates are a humorless lesbian and a socially crippled grind. That's okay, though, you need stock, cardboard characters if you're telling an old joke, especially if you're hoping to get, you know, just like, cute laughs.

LEGALLY BLONDE (PG-13, 96 minutes)Contains schoolyard-grade vulgarity and naughty sexual innuendo. Area theaters.


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