Legally Blonde 2

(Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, USA, 2003)


What happens when Hollywood entertainments try to talk politics? There is a key scene in Legally Blonde 2 when Elle (Reese Witherspoon), fresh from her speed-reading of Peter Singer's Animal Liberation, leads a protest march in Washington.

Stephen Stills' "For What It's Worth", John Lennon's "Power to the People" and Lou Reed's "America" fill the soundtrack in rapid succession – carefully doctored so as to remove any potentially offensive references to violence or insurgence. Oh, and Elle's event is dubbed – dear me – the "Million Dog March".

Yes, I know, the Legally Blonde films are meant to be comedies, not thoughtful political satires. But this second instalment in the series (a third is planned) shows how weak and fuzzy such comedies become when they tap into topical issues while studiously attempting to offend nobody.

This time around, ditzy Elle is part of the legal team working for Congresswoman Rudd (Sally Field), her mentor. Her boyfriend, Emmett (Luke Wilson), and her screeching hairdresser and sorority chums from the first movie are forcibly dragged into the proceedings, as Elle pushes a bill to stop animal testing in the cosmetics industry.

Her dog, Bruiser, and his family crisis, almost take centre stage in this fairy floss confection directed by Charles Herman-Wurmfeld (Kissing Jessica Stein, 2002). Beyond that, it's the predictable slate of jokes about shopping, fashion and girl power, with an obligatory nod to the mother of all political comedies, Frank Capra's Mr Smith Goes to Washington (1939). But at least, in that classic, the ideal of people power and the fight against corruption seemed believable.

© Adrian Martin September 2003

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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