I’ve got a joke for you. How many blondes does it take to make a sequel? I’ll let you write your own punchline because no matter what you come up with it’s likely to be funnier than Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde.
Perky Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) is back and now established with a respectable law firm. Following a new-found awareness for animal rights issues, Elle packs her bags and heads to Washington to get cosmetics testing on animals banned. Like the original, LB2 is a fish-out-of-water story as the pink-obsessed Elle sticks out like a man with bad body odour on a crowded bus amongst all the conservative politicians.
Elle’s office peers are meant to show how the Barbie wannabe gains respect. The trouble is in their first scene we meet them, they’re not buying any of the Beverly Hills garbage. Next thing you know their snapping right along with Ms. Woods and giving her all their support. And where did she win them over? I didn’t step out (although I wish I did), so what am I missing? Oh yeah, we’re not supposed to think. Otherwise we’d realize all the plot points follow the pattern of the first film. I don’t mind filling in the blanks, but Elle’s acceptance is the key to her being recognized as something more than the stereotypical dumb blonde.
I will give LB2 credit for five minutes where the film actually tries to show some insight into all the lobbying and deals that go into that thing we call legislation. The film offers an encouraging grassroots message on how to take it to ‘da man.’ And if you follow Elle, you’ll be the public’s heir to Martha Stewart in the process. You go girl.
As bad as I think LB2 is, it’s not nearly as bad as it could have been if it weren’t for its star. Either Witherspoon has a lot of fun playing with the wardrobe or she does a good job pretending to. There’s a lot to be said for someone who can always be perky even if it looks like your dad ran over the Easter Bunny and made every article of clothing in your closet out of his fur. Witherspoon shows great poise as the smart dumb blonde and acts beyond what the script calls for. There were a couple of brief moments where I felt moved just by how she talked. But then I started listening to the words and returned to my normal grumpy mood.
Both of the Legally Blonde films have asked us to look beyond the surface of things before passing judgment. That’s hypocritical when there’s little going on beyond the surface. Elle’s whole personality hinges on the contrasts of her pink outfits, accessories and living life by Vogue personality quizzes. So she has a Harvard law degree and a conscience for animal rights. She’s simply a Beverly Hills stereotype who’s got the added attributes of being smart and kind. But in the future Elle will simply be an excuse for producers to point to when they’re accused of constant ‘dumb blonde’ portrayals.
Although I thought the first film was light fun, Red, White and Blonde fails in almost every respect. It’s a simple rehash of all the charming bits of the original transplanted from Harvard to Washington with a couple of added characters tossed in for good measure.
The final sequence is a nightmare in that it hints strongly at a third outing for Elle. If this indeed becomes the case and the format isn’t shaken up, I doubt even Ms. Witherspoon will be strong enough from the tomatoes that will be flying at the screen.
Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde Gallery