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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert Luketic|
|Based on||Legally Blonde
by Amanda Brown
|Music by||Rolfe Kent|
|Cinematography||Anthony B. Richmond|
|Edited by||Anita Brandt-Burgoyne|
|Box office||$141.8 million|
Legally Blonde is a 2001 American comedy film based on the novel of the same name by Amanda Brown. It was directed by Robert Luketic, scripted 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 by getting a law degree. The title is a pun on the term "legally blind".
The film was released on July 13, 2001, and received positive reviews from critics. The critics' consensus states that "though the material is predictable and formulaic, Reese Witherspoon's funny, nuanced performance makes this movie better than it would have been otherwise". It was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture: Musical or Comedy and ranked 29th on Bravo's 2007 list of "100 Funniest Movies". 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.
Fashion merchandising student Elle Woods is taken to an expensive restaurant by her boyfriend, the governor's son, Warner Huntington III. She expects Warner to propose, but he breaks up with her instead, reasoning that she is not serious enough for his political aspirations. Her sorority sisters encourage her to pursue him. After much effort, Elle scores a 179 on the Law School Admission Test. This score, combined with her 4.0 GPA and strong extracurricular activities gains her admission into Harvard Law School, where Warner has enrolled.
Upon arriving at Harvard, Elle's SoCal personality is in complete contrast to her East Coast classmates' personalities, who refuse to take her seriously. She soon encounters Warner, but discovers he is engaged to marry another classmate, Vivian Kensington. Elle struggles to keep up with the reading and is unprepared for a lecture, which causes strict Professor Stromwell to berate 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 arrives in a Playboy bunny suit, but the party is not actually a costume party. Elle tells Warner that she intends to apply for Professor Callahan's prestigious internship, but Warner tells her that she is wasting her time. Elle realizes that Warner will never take her back and finds motivation to prove herself.
After several months of dramatic improvement, Elle, along with Warner and Vivian, is given a surprise internship at Callahan's law office. Callahan is defending a prominent fitness instructor named Brooke Windham, who is one of Elle's role models and a former member of her sorority. Accused of murdering her husband, Brooke is unwilling to produce an alibi (she later reveals to Elle that she was having liposuction). Discussing the trial, the defending team tries to persuade Elle to reveal Brooke's alibi, which she refuses to do. Warner attempts to convince her, saying if she shares the alibi that Callahan might hire her as a summer associate and to not worry about Brooke and to think about herself. Vivian overhearing this is disgusted with Warner's lack of empathy and ethical stance as a means to get ahead.
As Elle returns to her dorm-room, she encounters one of her kind but awkward classmates attempt to ask out a girl who says no and humiliates him. Elle interrupts and feigns having an amazing sexual encounter together in a successful effort to make him seem more desirable. Vivian approaches Elle's dorm to compliment her integrity during the trial. Clearly disturbed by Warner's behavior earlier, she continues to bond with Elle while they make fun of Warner's privileged upbringing and reveals that Warner was put on the wait list when he first applied to Harvard and his father "had to make a call," much to Elle's surprise.
At the trial, Enrique Salvatore, a pool cleaner and the prosecution's main witness, says that he was having an affair with Brooke and that they were planning to run off with her husband's money. Elle deduces that Enrique is gay because he knew her heels' brand, and points out to Emmett that straight men don't normally know brands. Brooke recalls that he had left a 'Cher' tape in the pool house one time. Armed with this knowledge, Emmett, after cross examination, redirects and then tricks Enrique into outing himself by admitting he has a boyfriend named Chuck; while attempting to deny the revelation, Chuck himself stands up and effeminately shouts "You Bitch!" before storming out of the courtroom. In an uproar, the judge calls for order and dismisses Enrique while the trial resumes.
Apparently impressed, Callahan asks Elle to meet him in his office later that evening. In his office that evening, Callahan makes a pass at Elle while offering to "discuss the future of her career." Vivian, approaching the office, saw Callahan approaching Elle, and assuming that Elle was willing, decided that Elle had been relying on her attractiveness to succeed. Vivian storms out of Callahan's office, telling Elle that the only reason Elle has gotten this far is because of her attractiveness. Despondent, Elle decides to quit the internship.
Later on, Emmett explains to Brooke how Callahan's behavior caused Elle to quit her internship, and Vivian now regrets her judgment of Elle. Brooke happily fires Callahan as she enters the courtroom and reveals Elle as his replacement for her defense. Despite her law student status, Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court ruling 3.03 allows Elle to legally appear on a defendant's behalf under the supervision of a licensed attorney. Callahan refuses to sponsor her, but Emmett immediately accepts to supervise instead. Nervous at first, Elle cross-examines Brooke's step-daughter Chutney. Chutney claims she did not hear the gun shot because she was upstairs taking a shower at the time of the apparent murder. Elle catches Chutney in a lie when she says she had gotten a perm done less than 24 hours prior to the incident. Elle confidently lures Chutney to expose her faulty alibi and correctly points out that applying water and shampoo to the hair within the 24 hour period deactivates the ammonium thioglycolate used in perming hair. She continues to cross-examine Chutney on how anyone who had sustained as many as 30+ perm treatments in their life would be "well aware of this rule". Now in a panic, Chutney tears up and unwittingly reveals that she thought Brooke was entering the house, but accidentally shot her father by mistake.
Elle had won her first case and all the charges against Brooke are dismissed. Chutney is taken into custody and Warner, unsuccessfully, attempts to convince Elle to take him back. She mocks him by repeating his earlier line that she wasn't serious enough for him, and cuts her ties with him. Two years later, Elle graduates from Harvard and gives the graduation speech. Vivian is now her best friend, while Warner has graduated with no honors, no girlfriend, and no job offers. Emmett has started his own firm and he and Elle have been dating since the trial, and he plans to propose to her later that night.
- Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods
- Luke Wilson as Emmett Richmond
- Matthew Davis as Warner Huntington III
- Selma Blair as Vivian Kensington
- Victor Garber as Prof. Callahan
- Jennifer Coolidge as Paulette Bonafonté
- Holland Taylor as Prof. Stromwell
- Ali Larter as Brooke Taylor-Windham
- Jessica Cauffiel and Alanna Ubach as Margot and Serena, close friends of Elle.
- Oz Perkins as David Kidney
- Linda Cardellini as Chutney Windham, Brooke's stepdaughter.
- Raquel Welch as Mrs. Windham-Vandermark, Chutney's mother and Mr. Windham's ex-wife.
Principal photography took place from 10 October until 19 December 2000
Although the film is set at Harvard University, it was 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 was filmed at Dulwich College in London, England, since Witherspoon was in that city filming The Importance of Being Earnest. Harvard University appears in the film briefly in certain aerial shots.
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 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 elsewhere, for a worldwide total of $141.7 million. The film was released in the United Kingdom on October 26, 2001, and opened on #2, behind American Pie 2.
The film was 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 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. The same year, Witherspoon was also nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Actress – Musical or Comedy.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
A soundtrack album was released in 2001 on A&M Records, including the songs:
- "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 February 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, starring 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.
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- "Legally Blonde (2001)". Box Office Mojo. 2001-11-18. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
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- Jamie Allen / CNN (2001). "CNN.com - Globes: 'Beautiful,' 'Moulin' golden - December 20, 2001". Edition.cnn.com. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
- "BRAVO 100 Funniest Movies". The Film Spectrum. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
- "USC Campus Filming: USC in Film". Archived from the original on April 23, 2008. Retrieved November 24, 2007.
- "Search - UCLA Undergraduate Admission". Admissions.ucla.edu. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
- "Stanford Magazine - Article". Stanfordalumni.org. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
- "Weekend box office 26th October 2001 - 28th October 2001". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
- "Legally Blonde (2001)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
- "Legally Blonde Reviews". Metacritic. 2001-07-13. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
- "15 Years of Reese Witherspoon | Fox News Magazine". Magazine.foxnews.com. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
- "AFI's 10 Top 10 Nominees" (PDF). Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved 2016-08-19.
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