Ellie is expecting her boyfriend, Warner, to ask her to marry him. But she’s too ‘blonde’ for him, his family, and his intended career. He tells her that he needs some-one serious. So Elle decides to get serious, go to Harvard, and study law like him.
The east coast doesn’t know what hit it when perky, west coast, fashion major, Elle arrives. She’s full of colour, blitz, and naivety when she enters the ‘dog eat dog’ world of law. But Elle uses her own set of smarts to win her a place in a law firm, defend a murder suspect, and win her man.
I do remember watching Legally Blonde when it first came out in 2001. And I remember being surprised that I could enjoy a film where women are portrayed in such extremes – blonde, stupid, and sexually desirable; or non-blonde, smart and good to marry.
But it is a light and frivolous film, nevertheless, that tries a little bit to turn the stereotypes on their head (but let’s not kid ourselves, it didn’t really do that, just lightened the mood a bit).
At the start of the 21st Century, romantic comedy films often sported a lead female who was beautiful, successful, but ditzy. Katherine Heigl played a few of these roles – her character had a flaw like being clumsy, messy, or slightly neurotic. A flaw that may mean: a) she needs to be rescued; or b) she is less ‘perfect’ so not a threat to her potential mate. These flaws can knock a woman down a peg or two.
But rom coms moved away from this type of character after about 2007. Female leads started to have other problems, but weren’t dumb or ditzy anymore. This was a role for the support female – the best friend, the sister, the workmate, or the housemate.
Legally Blonde is full of potential theorising and deconstruction. But if left alone, it’s a bit of fun, colourfully acted, and worth another watch, perhaps this time with the kids!