Director(s): Charles Herman-Wurmfeld
Writer(s): Eve Ahlert, Dennis Drake, Kate Kondell
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for some sex-related humor.
Runtime: 95 minutes
Plot: Sassy postgrad Elle Woods is all about animal rights. In fact, she puts her nuptial plans on hold to head to Washington D.C. to get an anti-animal testing bill passed. Her building’s doorman quickly shows her the ways and workings of our nation’s capital.
Review: There is a curse in the movie industry. It’s name – the sequel. For some reason, trying to follow up a hit movie with a sequel is very difficult for most studios because most sequels suck eggs. I forgot about this curse when I rented Legally Blonde 2 – Red, With & Blonde recently. It’s not that the first movie, Legally Blonde, was a masterpiece or anything, but it was good for what it was. It was a happy, shiny movie where you dismissed a little reality and just went with the story. Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) may be a silly character, but you go with it just to watch the character grow and mature. In addition, there were a nice assortment of memorable characters peppered throughout the story that really “kicked it up a notch”.
Since Legally Blonde was a big hit, you’d think that the producers wouldn’t mess with the formula that made it such a success. Haven’t we learned anything from New Coke? 😉 Unfortunately all the elements that made the first movie such a fun guilty pleasure are absent from the sequel and all you’re left with is a bitter taste in your mouth making you feel wrong for liking the first movie.
The biggest problem with the movie is the script. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear and this script was dead on arrival. Instead of using the original writer, Karen McCullah Lutz , the studio chose Ahlert, Drake and Kondell. Again, why miss with a winning combination? Anyway, the opening sequence is a scrapbook that the friends Margot (Jessica Cauffiel) and Serena (Alanna Ubach) are looking through. The device is meant to catch the viewer up on what’s been happening to Elle. This works nicely for those that didn’t see the first movie and for those of us that have, it works to set us back in place within the Elle timeline. At the end of the first movie, they said that Elle married Emmett Richmond (Luke Wilson). At the start of the second film, they explain that the wedding hasn’t happened yet and is scheduled to happen soon. This choppy style of storytelling works well when used in this manner, unfortunately the entire movie is told in this fashion.
Instead of creating story arcs for the characters so that can grow and lead us through the story, we’re presented with chunky segments. It’s almost as if you’re watching “bits” from SNL or something. I can just see the writers pitching these ideas back and forth, “Hey, how about Elle goes to Washington? Yeah! And there’s this mean lady that runs the office. Yeah! And the door man is really cool and helps her. Yeah! And her fiancee comes to visit. Yeah! And then she’s on CSPAN. Yeah!” It was just scene after scene that didn’t develop anything. The comedy was forced and it felt as if everyone was just walking through their scenes.
Think I’m just being mean? Well, let’s look at the plot and then you can tell me. “Elle is getting married and she decides that she wants her dog, Bruiser, to have his parents at the wedding. She learns that Bruiser’s mother is being used for animal testing so she goes to Washington to pass a bill to outlaw animal testing.” That’s it. I’m not kidding. That’s really the plot. I know, who would have green lighted this kind of project?
As I saw the story unfold like someone dropping a sack of potatoes, I held out for the hope that the supporting characters would help redeem this movie. No such luck. Emmett the fiancee was reduced to a caricature of his former self. In the first movie Emmett helped ground the movie in reality. He wasn’t a doe eyed goof, he was the smart, sensible legal hero that sees Elle as a “diamond in the rough” and what potential she holds. In this movie, he’s nothing but a sycophant who does nothing more than say “Yes dear.” and mug for the camera. To add insult to injury, Paulette Bonafonté (Jennifer Coolidge) the lovable manicurist who is befriended by Elle in the first film, is reduced to nothing but the eccentric goofball sidekick who makes one stupid comment after another. Even Bob Newheart, as the doorman Sid Post, couldn’t keep this ship afloat. All of the actors are credible in their field and are capable of doing so much more than this. The crime in all of this is that the script shackles them down to the point where they have no room to do what they do best – act.
With nary a chuckle throughout the whole film, I pulled up the “gag reel” from the Special Features section of the DVD. A gag reel is becoming a staple of DVDs and they are usually quite funny as they show goof ups and antics of the actors and crew as they were filming the movie. Normally you see the actors messing up lines and laughing uncontrollably, thus showing how much fun the movie was to shoot. On this gag reel, the actors barely crack a smile. When the gag reel of a comedy can’t make you laugh, what hope does the movie itself have?
I loved the first Legally Blonde movie. It was silly and somewhat of a farce, but the story and the characters made you just “go with it” and enjoy yourself. It wasn’t high film, it was just a good time. Legally Blonde 2 is such a disaster it makes you sorry you enjoyed the first one altogether. It truly is a crime. By the end of the film, all the affection you had for the characters is gone. You just don’t care about Elle anymore and you don’t care where she goes from there. She gives a knowing wink to the camera at the end of the film to imply that there could be a 3rd film and I my only hope is that the studio doesn’t get paroled to make it.
My Rating: (2 Out Of 5 Stars)
My IMDB Review: [link]