For a complete rendering of why I love Legally Blonde (2001), please read my review of it. In short, my appreciation revolves around the character of Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon). Perhaps there is some cliché to being into a movie because of its star. I like most Reese Witherspoon films. Yet, there is something about the innocent but determined nature of Elle Woods that elevates this franchise, if that makes sense. It is with these notions firm in the back of my mind that I anticipated the sequel, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003), seeing it in the theaters when it premiered. Part of my goal with this review will be to explain what happened along the way with this installment. Some of it can be chalked up to the stereotype of sequels never being good as the original. More specifically, a lot of times filmmakers attempt to use the same formula that brought them success the first time, but on a second go around can come across stale. Despite these drawbacks, I still enjoy it, but it will never be as good as the first. Hopefully, the rest of this review will be cliché-free.
If you recall the bright future that Harvard Law School graduate Elle Woods was entering into at the end of Legally Blonde, you would not be surprised that the beginning of Legally Blonde 2 sees her in a perfect life. She is a successful attorney at one of the top law firms in Boston, and she is planning her dream wedding for her and her fiancé Emmet Richmond (Luke Wilson). She also still has her chihuahua Bruiser. Such is her dedication to her pet that she wants Bruiser’s mother to attend the wedding. Using the research abilities of the firm, she is able to track down Bruiser’s mother to a cosmetics company called C’est Magnifique. This is initially exciting for her because, as a child of the glitz and glamor of Los Angeles, she is a preferred customer. Her opinion is drastically changed when she discovers that they are performing testing on Bruiser’s mother and other animals. Her day gets worse when she approaches her firm to do something about this because they represent C’est Magnifique, only to have them fire her for meddling. One cannot keep Elle Woods down for long. With some encouragement from Emmet, she heads to Washington D.C. in order to lobby to get the laws changed on animal testing, and free her target dog. She sets up at a hotel near the Capitol, with a conveniently helpful doorman named Sid Post (Bob Newhart), and begins canvassing Congress to find legislators that can help. Though her initial attempts are met with refusal, she soon finds Congresswoman Victoria Rudd (Sally Field). Representative Rudd is known to be sympathetic to causes like Elle’s, and she champions the young woman when she introduces Elle to the rest of the skeptical staff. The reason for their disapprobation is Elle showing up on the first day dressed head to toe, literally, in pink. As usual, Elle shrugs off her detractors and gets to work, despite not getting any help at first from her co-workers, particularly the eldest member of the staff Grace Rossiter (Regina King). What begins to change is the discovery of Bruiser’s sexuality. For whatever reason, Bruiser is gay, the discovery of which is made when Elle takes her dog to a spa. There, Bruiser meets Leslie, a rottweiler owned by Congressman Stan Marks (Bruce McGill), and they become intimate. Congressman Marks is known to be conservative, and heads the committee that has control over Elle’s bill. At first, he wants nothing to do with this arrangement. He is also dedicated to his dog, and an encounter between them in the park seals his support. Another key get is Congresswoman Libby Hauser (Dana Ivey), who is on the same committee. She is another who does not take Elle seriously. They do have one thing in common, however: they are Delta Nu sisters, the sorority that Elle belonged to when she was in college. Their support is enough to get Bruiser’s bill out of committee and on the way to the floor of Congress for a vote. This is when treachery comes along. Congresswoman Rudd withdraws her favor of Elle’s measure because she is in the pocket of the beauty industry, and is thus pressured by unseen forces to nix the bill. This is another blow for Elle, but once more she receives a boost from Sid, whose longtime Washington experience gives her the insight she needs to push forward. She also receives assistance from a whole host of characters from the first film that need not be enumerated. The key bit of help, though, comes from Grace, who has come to admire Elle’s dedication and, more importantly, has a recording of Congresswoman Rudd being bribed into going against Elle. The revelation of this swings Congresswoman Rudd back the other way, ruins her career, and carries the day for Elle. She is then free to have everyone together for her wedding, albeit not at Fenway Park as originally planned. On their way out of town, Elle has a significant look at the White House as she and Emmet drive into the sunset.
This last bit of Legally Blonde 2 is meant to set up another sequel. Though this has yet to come, there are rumors that the third one is in the works. If that does happen, I hope it will stick to a few themes to which I can relate as a practicing Catholic. The main one is integrity. No matter what you might think about her character, the one thing you can count on from Elle is honesty. There is a confidence to her that is born within, and much of what happens in the film is meant to shake that core belief in herself. The one thing it is not is egoism. The ego is something that works against us. Another word to describe what I am talking about is self-love. As Christians, we are taught to love as Jesus loves. For those who believe, God dwells within. Hence, to love God is to love yourself, and that is important. It is also not self-love, at least not how I am constructing this idea. That is the variety that places yourself before everyone and everything. Jesus did things differently. He loved God because God was (is) His Father, and the Bible talks about how He was (is) one with the Father. In doing so, He showed His loved for all of us, and continues to do so. Some of my favorite passages in the Bible involve Jesus interrupting His public ministry in order to personally attend to somebody’s needs. Though Elle definitely has a goal in mind, she is never too busy to help a friend. This is what wins people to one’s side. This was true for Christianity, and it is equally so for Elle.
I know I said that Legally Blonde 2 is not as good as the first, but I feel like I have presented it in a different light. It is a fine film. The only issue I have with it is the raison d’etre for the plot to get going. Call me a square Catholic, but I am not sure why we need to be assigning sexuality to pets beyond what God intended. Otherwise, it is as solid of a sequel as they come.