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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 has everything: rich, pretty, popular, a straight-A student, a handsome boyfriend and is president of her sorority Delta Nu. Elle is taken to an expensive restaurant by her boyfriend, the governor's son, Warner Huntington III. She expects Warner to propose marriage, 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 reading a magazine article about Warner's brother getting engaged to a socialite, Elle decides to enroll into law school in order to win back Warner. After much effort, Elle scores a 179 out of 180 on the Law School Admission Test. Her score, combined with her 4.0 GPA, admissions essay video, 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 and asks him to meet her later after her first class. Elle struggles to keep up with the reading and is unprepared for a lecture, which causes strict Professor Stromwell, as well as another student Vivian Kensington, to berate her and force her out of the class. Outside in the courtyard, Elle meets Emmett, an associate at Harvard who gives her advice on handling each of her professors. She then meets up with Warner but discovers he's engaged to Vivian, the girl who humiliated her in Stromwell's class. Leaving in a huff, Elle finds the nearest salon to ease her anger and meets Paulette, a beautician who befriends her as she herself recollects all the times a man has rejected her. Paulette’s dog Rufus has been confiscated from her and is now in the hands of her ex. Elle tearfully tells Paulette her situation and Paulette encourages her to "steal the bastard back."
Elle tries to blend in with the others, even making an effort to join Warner and his friends in a study group but was unsuccessful. She overhears Vivian inviting people to a party and tells Elle that it was a "costume party" and says that she can come. Elle arrives to the party in a Playboy bunny suit but sees that the party is not a costume party. Elle tells Warner that she intends to apply for Professor Callahan's prestigious internship, but Warner tells her that she is not smart enough and is wasting her time. Elle realizes that Warner will never take her back and finds motivation to prove herself. She does this by helping Paulette reclaim her dog from her ex Dewey Newcomb, stating that their long relationship counts as a common-law marriage, and Paulette should be allowed to keep her dog.
After several months of dramatic improvement, Elle, along with Warner, Vivian and another student Enid Wexler, 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 wealthy husband, Brooke is unwilling to produce an alibi. She later tells Elle that she was having liposuction at the time of her husband's murder but refused to tell Callahan and the media for fearing it will destroy her career. 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.
Elle and Emmett get assigned by Callahan to meet the murder victim's ex-wife at a spa to question her about Brooke. The ex-wife claims that Brooke was a bad stepmother to her daughter Chutney and that Brooke had her eye on the family's pool cleaner, but Elle doesn't believe her. As Elle returns to her dorm-room, she encounters one of her kind, but awkward, classmates attempting to ask a girl on a date. The girl says no and humiliates him. Elle interrupts and feigns having had 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.
Back at the salon, the UPS delivery man catches Paulette’s eye, and Paulette is speechless, not knowing how to communicate with him because she’s that attracted to him. Elle asks Paulette if this was their first time actually talking to each other, and while Paulette is still speechless, Elle decides to teach her, along with the rest of the salon, a technique she learned to captivate boys, called the “Bend and Snap”. Soon Elle is seen teaching the entire salon the Bend and Snap in a hilarious montage, and when Paulette meets eyes with the UPS guy again, she tries the new move on him and ends up breaking his nose in the process.
At the trial, Enrique Salvatore, the 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 the designer brand of the shoes she was wearing, and points out to Emmett that gay men normally know designers and that straight men don't. Brooke recalls that he had once left a 'Cher' tape in the pool house. 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 trying to seduce Elle, and assuming that Elle was willing and 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.
As she was preparing to move back to California, Elle stops at the salon to say goodbye to Paulette. She tells her that, despite other people not taking her seriously, the internship made her feel confident about herself but that Callahan only gave it to her because he wanted to have sex with her. As she was about to drop out of law school and leave, Professor Stromwell, who happened to be at the salon, reassures and motivates her to want to stay. 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 rule 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 intended to shoot Brooke but accidentally shot and killed her father by mistake, thinking it was Brooke that entered the house.
Elle had won her first case and all the charges against Brooke are dismissed. Chutney is taken into custody. Warner approaches Elle and tells her that he loves her and tries to convince her to take him back. She rejects his advances and 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 broke off her engagement to Warner and is now Elle's best friend. Warner has graduated with no honors, no girlfriend, and no job offers. Paulette ended up marrying the UPS guy, and they are expecting their first child together, a girl they plan to name after Elle. 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.
- Bruce Thomas as the UPS guy, Paulette’s crush and soon-to-be husband.
- Greg Serano as Enrique Salvatore
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.
- "Legally Blonde (12)". British Board of Film Classification. August 6, 2001. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
- "Legally Blonde (2001)". Box Office Mojo. 2001-11-18. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
- "Legally Blonde". Retrieved 2016-11-15.
- 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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