Reese Witherspoon is still enchanting, but “Legally Blonde 2” suffers from sequel-itis. That happens when the movie studio wants badly to repeat the success of an original, but the happily-ever-after ending of the first one leaves very little room for further developments, so they just repeat the original. In this case, that even means repeating some of the same jokes.
In the first movie, sorority president Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) discovered that she had a brain. The fun of the movie for the audience was having our cupcake and respecting her, too. That was possible because we got to enjoy her adorable bubble-headed (but sweet-natured) reaction to very serious Harvard Law School and then see her triumph by being both nicer and smarter than anyone else. That triumph included professional and romantic happy endings. Now what?
Well, it starts by taking some of that happiness away from her, which is okay, but it also takes away some of the character development, too, leaving Elle an inconsistent and ultimately uncomfortable combination of silly and smart.
How’s this for a premise? Elle hires a detective to find the biological mother of her dog, Bruiser, so she can invite Bruiser’s family to the wedding. She finds out that his mother is in a lab for testing cosmetics on animals. When she urges her law firm to oppose the use of animal-testing in cosmetics (the movie is careful to stay away from the issue of animal testing for medication), she is fired. So, Elle moves to Washington determined to get legislation passed (“Bruiser’s Law”) freeing Bruiser’s mother and all of the other lab animals.
It’s really more of a series of skits than a story, but as long as you don’t care whether it goes anywhere, some of the skits are cute enough, thanks to Witherspoon’s precision timing and ravishing smile. The movie makes the most of Witherspoon’s talents, but wastes the considerable potential of Sally Field, Bob Newhart, Dana Ivey, and Regina King.
Parents should know that the movie has some sexual references, including a brief appearance by a stereotyped gay character and a plot development involving gay dogs. There is some strong language.
Families who see this movie should talk about what makes Elle change her mind about her final speech and how a a bill becomes a law (the movie has the details right on the hopper and the discharge petition). Some family members may want to know more about the issue of animal testing (or campaign finance). And it is worth talking about how Elle uses not just persistance and charm but facts and creative ideas to persuade people to support her idea. Families might want to consider having a snaps cup.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the original and the delightful “Born Yesterday” with Judy Holliday, another movie about a blonde who takes on Washington. They should also see “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” briefly viewed in this movie, starring Jimmy Stewart.