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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert Luketic|
by Amanda Brown
|Music by||Rolfe Kent|
|Cinematography||Anthony B. Richmond|
|Edited by||Anita Brandt-Burgoyne|
|Distributed by||MGM Distribution Co.|
|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. On Rotten Tomatoes, the critics' consensus states "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.
As of June 2018, Witherspoon has been in discussions with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to produce a third instalment in the Legally Blonde film series. In addition to reprising her role as Elle Woods, Witherspoon is bringing back both Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith to pen the film's script. MGM later confirmed in a Twitter post that Legally Blonde 3 is set to be released on February 14, 2020.
Elle Woods, a pretty, rich and popular fashion merchandising student and president of her Delta Nu sorority, is crushed when her boyfriend Warner Huntington III breaks up with her over a romantic dinner rather than proposing to her, as she was expecting. He argues that he needs a more serious woman in order to fulfill his political aspirations, which include attending Harvard Law. Encouraged by her sorority sisters, Elle decides to also enroll in Harvard Law in order to win Warner back. After much effort, Elle manages to gain admission but soon discovers that the personalities and atmosphere in Harvard are very different from hers and she is thrown out of class during her first day by the strict Professor Stromwell and a classmate named Vivian for not having prepared for the lecture. Elle is later horrified to discover that Vivian is Warner's fiancee.
None of Elle's classmates take her seriously and she is friendless at the university aside from Emmett, an associate at Harvard who gives her advice on handling each of her professors, and a beautician named Paulette who encourages her to try to win over Warner. Elle repeatedly tries to fit in with the others but is repeatedly rebuffed. Vivian even goes so far as to lie to Elle about a party invitation, falsely telling her that it was a costume party, humiliating her in front of her classmates. She is also ridiculed by Warner after informing him of her intent to apply for a prestigious internship with Professor Callahan, as Warner tells her that she is not smart enough and is wasting her time. This motivates Elle to prove herself, as she begins to study law seriously and even manages to use her knowledge to help Paulette reclaim her dog from an ex-boyfriend.
After several months of dramatic improvement, Elle, along with Warner, Vivian and another student Enid Wexler, is given an internship at Callahan's law office, where they will be working on a murder case, defending a prominent fitness instructor named Brooke Windham, who refuses to produce an alibi for the murder. Recognizing her as a personal role model and former Delta Nu member, Elle manages to discover the alibi but keeps it secret due to a personal promise with Brooke, which impresses Vivian and leads to the two women beginning to bond after it was revealed that she was keeping the alibi confidential and that Warner blatantly said to sell out her friend for benefits; during their alone time, Vivian revealing to Elle that Warner only got into Harvard via a call from his father (a distinguished alumni) to the school board, because he was on the waiting list.
During the trial Elle manages to find holes in the prosecution's case such as proving that the prosecution's main witness was lying/perjuring about having an affair with Brooke, pointing out that he is gay. Seemingly impressed, Callahan invites Elle to his office later that evening, where he makes a sexual pass at her. Vivian witnesses the pass but not Elle angrily spurning his advances and angrily accuses Elle of using her looks to get ahead. Elle considers leaving Harvard and goes to Paulette's salon to let her know, but is encouraged by Professor Stromwell, who happened to be at the salon.
When the trial resumes, Emmett explains to Brooke how Callahan's behavior caused Elle to quit her internship, leaving Vivian to regret her actions towards Elle. Brooke then decides to fire Callahan and replace him with Elle, who is able to defend her due to Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court rule 3.03, which allows Elle to legally appear on a defendant's behalf under Emmett's supervision, as he is a licensed attorney. Although nervous, Elle manages to catch Brooke's step-daughter Chutney in a lie during cross-examination, as she claimed that she could not have heard the gun shot because she was washing her hair after getting a perm earlier that day. Elle then points out that freshly permed hair cannot be washed within a 24 hour period without deactivating the perming chemical ammonium thioglycolate, which Chutney should know as she had received over 30 perm treatments during her life. Upset, Chutney unwittingly reveals that she intended to shoot Brooke but accidentally shot and killed her father by mistake, thinking it was Brooke who had entered the house. Chutney is then arrested for murder, with all charges against Brooke dismissed. After the trial Warner unsuccessfully tries to persuade Elle to take him back, only for her to mock him by stating that he is not serious enough for her.
The film ends with Elle graduating from Harvard two years later and giving the graduation speech. Vivian broke off her engagement to Warner and is now Elle's best friend, while Warner graduates with no honors, no job offers and no girlfriend. Paulette ends up marrying a UPS guy she had been infatuated with throughout the film and is expecting a baby. Emmett has started his own firm and he and Elle have been dating since the trial, with him planning 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 Professor Callahan
- Jennifer Coolidge as Paulette Bonafonté
- Holland Taylor as Professor 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.
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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.
- McNary, Dave (June 4, 2018). "Reese Witherspoon in Talks to Return for 'Legally Blonde 3'". Variety. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
- "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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