Legally Blonde

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This article is about the 2001 film. For other uses, see Legally Blonde (disambiguation).
Legally Blonde
Legally blonde.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Luketic
Produced by Marc Platt
Ric Kidney
Screenplay by Karen McCullah Lutz
Kirsten Smith
Based on Legally Blonde
by Amanda Brown
Starring Reese Witherspoon
Luke Wilson
Selma Blair
Matthew Davis
Victor Garber
Jennifer Coolidge
Music by Rolfe Kent
Cinematography Anthony B. Richmond
Edited by Anita Brandt-Burgoyne
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • July 13, 2001 (2001-07-13)
Running time
96 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $18 million
Box office $141,774,679[1]

Legally Blonde is a 2001 American comedy film based on the novel of the same name by Amanda Brown.[2] The film was directed by Robert Luketic, written by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, and stars Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair, Matthew Davis, Victor Garber and Jennifer Coolidge. The film tells the story of Elle Woods, a sorority girl who attempts to win back her ex-boyfriend with a law degree. Woods must help clear fitness instructor Brooke Windham, who has been accused of murdering her husband.

The film was released in the US on July 13, 2001, and received positive reviews. It was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture: Musical or Comedy[3] and was ranked 29th on Bravo's 2007 list of "100 Funniest Movies."[4] For her performance, Witherspoon received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the 2002 MTV Movie Award for Best Female Performance.

The 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.


Elle Woods, a student of fashion merchandising and president of her sorority, is taken to an expensive restaurant by her boyfriend, Warner Huntington III, who is the governor's son. She expects Warner to propose, but he breaks up with her instead, thinking that she is not serious enough for his political aspirations. Elle seeks comfort from her sorority sisters, who encourage her to keep pursuing him, leading to her plan to follow Warner into Harvard Law School. After much effort, she scores a 179 on the Law School Admission Test and combined with her 4.0 GPA, the Harvard panel admits her.

Upon arriving at Harvard, Elle's SoCal personality is a complete contrast to her East Coast classmates, who refuse to take her seriously. Elle soon encounters Warner, but finds out that he is engaged to another classmate, Vivian Kensington. To make things worse, her studies are off to a poor start, as she struggles to keep up with the reading and shows up unprepared for a lecture, causing a strict female professor, Professor Stromwell, to lecture her and force her out of the class. Elle meets Emmett, who gives her advice for handling each of her professors. Vivian invites Elle to a costume party, and Elle shows up in a playboy bunny suit, when it is actually not a costume party. Elle tells Warner that she intends to apply for one of her professor's internships, but Warner tells her that she won't be accepted and that she's just wasting her time. Elle realizes that Warner will never take her back. She finds motivation to prove herself. Determined to succeed against the odds, Elle studies diligently and eventually receives an internship at the legal office of Callahan, the school's most respected professor, who is defending a prominent fitness instructor named Brooke Windham. Accused of murdering her husband, Brooke is unwilling to produce an alibi. The prosecution's main witness, a pool cleaner, says that he was having an affair with Brooke, and that the two were going to run off with Brooke's husband's money. In fact, Brooke reveals to Elle that she was having liposuction during the murder, but forces her to keep the alibi a secret as it would ruin her career and reputation. Impressed by Elle's ingenuity, Vivian befriends her and admits to certain things about Warner that even Elle never knew about.

Elle, using her fashion sense, deduces that the pool cleaner is gay, but Callahan dismisses her theory. However, Emmett Richmond, Callahan's junior partner, believes her and during cross-examination tricks the pool cleaner into confessing his homosexuality, thereby undermining the case for Brooke's guilt. Callahan later attempts to seduce Elle, but is rejected. Having overheard the conversation, Vivian is frustrated with Elle using sex to further her career. Elle contemplates leaving law school, but Stromwell restores her self-confidence. Meanwhile, Brooke demands to know why Elle is missing from the team. When Emmett explains Callahan's behavior, an enraged Brooke decides to fire Callahan and Vivian realizes her mistake. Having been hired back, Elle conducts an aggressive cross-examination of Brooke's step-daughter Chutney, forcing her to reveal that she was the one who killed Brooke's husband, but had intended to kill Brooke because she resented the fact that her father married someone her age. Brooke is exonerated and Chutney is sent to jail. Elle rejects Warner, stating that she needs a man who loves her for her and not someone who acted like a bonehead. Two years later, Elle gives the graduation speech at her law school as class-elected speaker. Vivian has broken up with Warner, who graduated "without honors and without a job offer." Emmett has fallen out with Callahan, started his own firm, and has been dating Elle for two years and intends to propose to her.



Although the film's setting is Harvard University, it was actually filmed at the University of Southern California,[5] University of California, Los Angeles,[6] 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 in that city filming her next project (The Importance of Being Earnest). The real Harvard only appears briefly in certain aerial shots.

In the novel and original script, Warner and Elle attend Stanford Law School. Stanford, however, disapproved of the script, and the setting was changed to Harvard Law School.[7]

The producers intentionally gave Elle a different hairstyle for every scene.

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[1] made it a sleeper hit for the struggling MGM studio, 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.[1]

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.[8] Metacritic reported that the film had an average score of 59, based on 31 reviews.[9] 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.[10]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:



In 2007, a musical adaptation premiered on Broadway to 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 run at the Savoy Theatre in London's West End that starred Sheridan Smith, Susan McFadden and Carley Stenson as Elle and Duncan James, Richard Fleeshman, Simon Thomas and Ben Freeman as Warner. During the three-year run, the cast also included Alex Gaumond, Denise Van Outen, and Lee Mead.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Legally Blonde (2001)". Box Office Mojo. 2001-11-18. Retrieved 2016-03-12. 
  2. ^ By A. O. Scott. "Legally-Blonde - Trailer - Cast - Showtimes". Retrieved 2016-03-12. 
  3. ^ Jamie Allen / CNN (2001). " - Globes: 'Beautiful,' 'Moulin' golden - December 20, 2001". Retrieved 2016-03-12. 
  4. ^ "BRAVO 100 Funniest Movies". The Film Spectrum. Retrieved 2016-03-12. 
  5. ^ "USC Campus Filming: USC in Film". Archived from the original on April 23, 2008. Retrieved November 24, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Search - UCLA Undergraduate Admission". Retrieved 2016-03-12. 
  7. ^ "Stanford Magazine - Article". Retrieved 2016-03-12. 
  8. ^ "Legally Blonde (2001)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2016-03-12. 
  9. ^ "Legally Blonde Reviews". Metacritic. 2001-07-13. Retrieved 2016-03-12. 
  10. ^ "15 Years of Reese Witherspoon | Fox News Magazine". Retrieved 2016-03-12. 
  11. ^ "AFI's 10 Top 10 Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-19. 

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