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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert Luketic|
|Produced by||Ric Kidney
Marc E. Platt
|Screenplay by||Karen McCullah Lutz
|Based on||Legally Blonde
by Amanda Brown
|Music by||Rolfe Kent|
|Cinematography||Anthony B. Richmond|
|Editing by||Anita-Brandt Burgoyne
|Studio||Type A Films
Marc Platt Productions
|Running time||96 minutes|
Legally Blonde is a 2001 American romantic comedy film directed by Robert Luketic, written by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, and produced by Marc E. Platt. It is based on a novel by Amanda Brown.
The film stars Reese Witherspoon as a sorority girl who struggles to win back her ex-boyfriend by earning a law degree, along with Luke Wilson as a young attorney she meets during her studies, Matthew Davis as her ex-boyfriend, Selma Blair as his new fiancée, Victor Garber and Holland Taylor as law professors, Jennifer Coolidge as a manicurist, and Ali Larter as a fitness instructor that was once her friend accused of murder.
In America, the film was released on July 13, 2001, and received generally positive reviews. It was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture: Musical or Comedy and was ranked 29th on Bravo's 2007 list of "100 Funniest Movies". For her performance, Witherspoon was nominated for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the 2002 MTV Movie Award for Best Female Performance.
The film's box-office success led to a 2003 sequel, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, and a 2009 direct-to-DVD spin-off, Legally Blondes. Additionally, Legally Blonde: The Musical premiered on January 23, 2007, in San Francisco and opened in New York City at the Palace Theatre on Broadway on April 29, 2007, starring Laura Bell Bundy. The musical has since closed on Broadway, but opened to very good reviews and box office in London's West End. The large ambitious scores to both feature films were written by Rolfe Kent and were orchestrated by Tony Blondal. They featured a 90-piece orchestra and were recorded at the Sony Scoring Stage in Culver City, CA.
In her senior year at C.U.L.A., girlish sorority president Elle Woods majors in fashion merchandising and is hopelessly in love with her boyfriend, Warner Huntington III, who will attend Harvard Law School the following year. She excitedly expects him to ask her to marry him, but he breaks up with her instead, claiming that he has to be with someone more "serious".
After Elle spends days holed up in her room, Elle's two best friends Margot and Serena take her to get her nails done. While waiting, she finds an article about Warner's older brother and his new fiancée, whom he met in law school. Desperate to win Warner back, Elle takes the Law School Admission Test (and scores 179 on it), applies to Harvard, and is accepted. Upon Elle's arrival, her classmates disapprove of her because of her looks and naive behavior, and she discovers that Warner is engaged to another student, Vivian Kensington. The only friend Elle makes is Paulette, a divorced manicurist at a local salon. Elle later helps Paulette gain custody of her dog back from her ex-husband, and she also helps her seduce the delivery man on whom she has a crush.
After Vivian tricks Elle into attending a party in a Playboy Bunny costume where she retaliates by insulting her, Elle has a discussion with Warner and finally realizes he will never respect her. Now determined to succeed on her own, Elle studies hard and impresses her professors and classmates in many occasions, proving herself enough for Vivian to consider her a threat, and wins an internship with Professor Callahan, as do Warner and Vivian. They work with Callahan and an associate, attorney Emmett Richmond (who also befriended Elle in her first day at school), to defend Brooke Taylor-Windham, a famous fitness instructor accused of murdering her much older billionaire husband, Hayworth Windham. Brooke was once Elle's fitness instructor and a member of her sorority. Elle believes Brooke is innocent, but Brooke's stepdaughter, Chutney, and the household cabana boy say she is guilty, and that they saw Brooke standing over Windham's dead body, covered in his blood, while Brooke testifies that she loved her husband and only found him after he had been shot to death.
Brooke refuses to provide Callahan an alibi, but when Elle visits her in prison, Brooke admits that she had liposuction on the day of the murder. Public knowledge of this fact would ruin Brooke's reputation as a fitness instructor, so Elle agrees to keep it secret and refuses to reveal the alibi to Callahan. Impressed by her integrity, Vivian starts to befriend Elle, also admitting that Warner was put on Harvard's wait-list and only got in because his father pulled some strings.
The case against Brooke begins to weaken when Elle deduces that the cabana boy is gay after he correctly identifies Elle's shoe style. During the cross-examination, Emmett tricks him into identifying his boyfriend in court, proving that his testimony about having an affair with Brooke was a lie.
Impressed by her performance, Callahan discusses Elle's future with her and then makes sexual advances on her, which Elle immediately rejects. Overhearing part of the conversation, Vivian is frustrated by Elle apparently using her sexuality to gain her internship. Elle, also thinking that Callahan chose her for sexual reasons, decides to leave law school. Before leaving, she tells Emmett what really happened and how Callahan was getting a bit too comfortable around her. Professor Stromwell, who once removed Elle from her class for being unprepared, helps regain Elle's spirit. Meanwhile, Emmett explains Elle's encounter with Callahan to Vivian and Brooke. Brooke is enraged by that and Vivian realizes her mistake. Before the trial continues, Brooke dismisses Callahan and hires Elle as her new attorney with Emmett supervising.
Elle begins shakily while cross-examining Chutney, who testifies that she was home during her father's murder, but did not hear the gunshot because she was in the shower washing her hair after getting her hair permed earlier that day. Elle gets Chutney to reconfirm her story, then reveals that washing permed hair within the first 24 hours would have deactivated the ammonium thioglycolate, and Chutney's curls are still intact. Exposed, Chutney admits to killing Hayworth accidentally because she thought he was Brooke, whom she hated for marrying her father because she was Chutney's age. Brooke is exonerated, and Chutney is arrested. After the trial, Warner tries to reconcile with Elle, but she rejects him, explaining that she needs a boyfriend who is less of a "bonehead" in her new career.
Two years later, Elle, who has graduated with high honors, is the class-elected speaker at the ceremony, and has been invited into one of Boston's best law firms; Vivian is now Elle's best friend and has called off her engagement with Warner, who graduated without honors, no girlfriend, and no job offers; Paulette has married her delivery man and is expecting a baby girl to be named after Elle; and finally, Emmett has started his own practice, is now Elle's boyfriend, and will propose to her that night.
- Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods, a bubbly, intelligent and outgoing sorority girl
- Luke Wilson as Emmett Richmond, a young attorney
- Selma Blair as Vivian Kensington, a law student
- Matthew Davis as Warner Huntington III, Elle's boyfriend
- Victor Garber as Professor Callahan, a Harvard law professor
- Jennifer Coolidge as Paulette Bonafonté (and later Parcelle), Elle's manicurist and confidante
The cast also includes:
- Holland Taylor as Professor Stromwell, a Harvard law professor;
- Ali Larter as Brooke Taylor-Windham, a famous fitness instructor accused of murdering her husband;
- Jessica Cauffiel and Alanna Ubach as Margot and Serena, fellow sorority sisters and close friends of Elle;
- Oz Perkins as "Dorky" David Kidney, a law student;
- Linda Cardellini as Chutney Windham, Brooke's stepdaughter;
- Raquel Welch as Mrs. Windham-Vandermark, Chutney's mother and Mr. Windham's ex-wife;
- Bruce Thomas as Paulette's UPS delivery man;
- Meredith Scott Lynn as Enid Wexler, a law student and outspoken feminist.
Hip hop choreographers Napoleon and Tabitha D'umo choreographed the "Bend and Snap" routine before they achieved greater fame as choreographers for the hit Fox show So You Think You Can Dance.
Although the film's setting is Harvard University, it was actually filmed at the University of Southern California, University of California, Los Angeles, California Institute of Technology, and Rose City High School in Pasadena, California. The graduation scene is filmed at Dulwich College, in London, England, since Reese Witherspoon was at the time filming her next project (The Importance of Being Earnest) in that city. The real Harvard only appears briefly in certain aerial shots.
The producers intentionally gave Elle a different hairstyle for every scene.
The movie appears to make several subtle shout-outs to John Grisham novels, most humorously with the names of Elle's and Paulette's dogs—Bruiser and Rufus—who both share names with Grisham's sleazy attorney characters—Elle's chihuahua apparently being named after J. Lyman "Bruiser" Stone from the novel The Rainmaker, and Paulette's bulldog after District Attorney Rufus Buckley from A Time to Kill. Additionally, Grisham's novel The Pelican Brief features its own Professor Callahan with a penchant for inappropriate relationships with law students. The opening song and main theme, "Perfect Day", was performed by Hoku.
Legally Blonde was released on July 13, 2001, in North America. Its opening-weekend gross of $20 million made it a sleeper hit, and it went on to gross $96.5 million in North America and $45.2 million internationally for a worldwide total of $141.7 million. The film was also a critical success. Based on 130 reviews collected by review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 68% of the critics gave Legally Blonde positive ratings, ranking the film as "fresh". Most reviews praised Reese Witherspoon's lead performance, although some denigrated the overall merit of the film. Metacritic reported that the film had an average score of 59, based on 31 reviews. At the 2001 Golden Globe Awards ceremony, the film was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Picture – Musical or Comedy, and Witherspoon was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Actress – Musical or Comedy.
- "Watch Me Shine" by Joanna Pacitti
- "Sound of Milwaukee" by Fatboy Slim
- "Can't Get Me Down" by Lo-Ball
- "We Could Still Belong Together" by Lisa Loeb
- "Don't Need You To (Tell Me I'm Pretty)" by Samantha Mumba
- "One Girl Revolution" by Superchick
- "Magic" by The Black Eyed Peas featuring Terry Dexter
- "Sex Machine" by Mýa
- "That's the Way (I Like It)" by KC and the Sunshine Band
- "You Sexy Thing" by Hot Chocolate
- "Get Down on It" by Kool & the Gang
- "Love Is a Beautiful Thing" by Krystal
- "A Thousand Miles" by Vanessa Carlton
- "Baby, Come on Over" by Samantha Mumba
- "Perfect Day" by Hoku
- "Ooh La La" by Valeria
In 2007, a musical adaptation premiered on Broadway to mostly mixed reviews, starring Laura Bell Bundy as Elle, Christian Borle as Emmett, Orfeh as Paulette, Nikki Snelson as Brooke, Richard H. Blake as Warner, Kate Shindle as Vivienne, and Michael Rupert as Callahan. Other cast members included Andy Karl, Leslie Kritzer, Annaleigh Ashford, DeQuina Moore, and Natalie Joy Johnson. The show, Bundy, Borle, and Orfeh were all nominated for Tony Awards. Later, the Broadway show was the focus of an MTV reality TV series called Legally Blonde – The Musical: The Search for Elle Woods, in which the winner would take over the role of Elle on Broadway. Bailey Hanks from Anderson, South Carolina, won the competition.
Legally Blonde had a successful three-year run at the Savoy Theatre in London's West End which starred Sheridan Smith, Susan McFadden and Carley Stenson as Elle and Duncan James, Richard Fleeshman, Simon Thomas and Ben Freeman as Warner. The cast over the three-year run has also included Alex Gaumond, Denise Van Outen and Lee Mead.
- Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003) – the sequel to the film.
- Legally Blonde: The Musical (2007) – the musical based on the film
- Legally Blondes (2009) – the spin-off to the film
- "Legally Blonde". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-11-12.
- Allen, Jamie (December 20, 2001). "Globes: "Beautiful", "Moulin" golden". CNN. Retrieved December 13, 2006.
- "USC Campus Filming Office". Retrieved November 22, 2007.
- "121 Reasons Why UCLA is an Amazing Place". Retrieved June 3, 2008.
- "Stanford On Screen". Retrieved July 8, 2012.
- "Legally Blonde (2001)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 12, 2006.
- "Legally Blonde: Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved February 21, 2008.
- Milt, Amber (June 8, 2012). "15 Years of Reese Witherspoon". FOX News Network, LLC. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
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- Official website
- Legally Blonde at the Internet Movie Database
- Legally Blonde at allmovie
- Legally Blonde at Rotten Tomatoes
- Legally Blonde at Box Office Mojo
- Legally Blonde at The Numbers