BLU-RAY REVIEW / FRAME SHOTS
“LEGALLY BLONDE COLLECTION”
Blu-ray; 2001 & 2003; Both PG-13 for sex related humor, mild violence and profanity
Best extra: New interviews from actress Jessica Cauffiel
THIS SORORITY Sister has it all – the looks, the class and the brains. Elle Woods, played by Reese Witherspoon is as personable a character as anyone would care to meet.
Even if they might at first be stunned by all that … pink. Like Julia Roberts’ Shelby in “Steel Magnolias,” it is her signature color.
When it first came out, I knew I wouldn’t like it. Then I was dragged to the multiplex – and what a 180! Now it’s good to say the comedy and charm still works 18 years after its debut. (This is one of the go-to movies when life goes t***-up.) “Legally Blonde” (2001) and its sequel, “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde” (2003), have long been available on TV and streaming. Still, fans and newcomers will want to catch the new release from Shout. “Legally Blonde” gets a brilliant new 4K scan of the original camera negative. Its 1080p transfer to disc (2.35:1 aspect ratio) looks terrific – the best this film has ever looked.
Unfortunately, “Legally Blonde 2” uses the same luckless 2011 transfer (1.85:1 ratio). It’s a fairly decent second best … but the same could be said of the story.
The first film was adapted from the book by Amanda Brown, who based the story on her experiences at Stanford Law School. Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith (both:“10 Things I Hate About You”) wrote the screenplay in which a crucial change was made just before filming. The original script was a raunchy comedy similar to “American Pie.” Then the magic happened transforming the characters and their story from coarse to charm. Elle and her friends became appealing; her antagonists and situations relatable. Endowed with feminist expectations and abilities yet unafraid to embrace her sexuality and love of fashion, Elle Woods was a happy balance has seen never on film.
Elle is shocked and hurt when her boyfriend Warner Huntington III (Matthew Davis) dumps her instead of proposing.
So, what’s it all about? California blonde Elle Woods has been dating Warner Huntington III (Matthew Davis) and expects him to propose. They both come from wealthy families, but he dumps her, telling her she’s just not good enough. His family wants him to find a more suitable mate, someone who doesn’t live across the street from TV mogul Aaron Spelling. After all, Warner is going to attend Harvard Law School; his standards are HUGE.
After an extreme ugly cry, Elle dissolves into depression – until she determines to win Warner back by attending Harvard Law herself. She gets in only to face a new set of over-privileged bullies. Her fellow students only see a dizzy blonde; they expect her to fail. She’s scorned and pranked by the cool kids and the nerds. And still Elle and her little dog go on.
Australian director Robert Luketic and English cinematographer Anthony B. Richmond deliver an eye-pleasing film. L.A. scenes are bright; sparkling during the day, neon at night. Harvard is darker; a serious green campus; interiors and costumes with elements of beige, brown, black and white. Elle is a unfailing standout in hot pink. She even makes a fashion statement dressed when she descends to legal-wear black. Detail is good throughout, with excellent contrast and consistent film grain.
A DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack delivers ambient sound throughout the room; audio is clean and distinct – a plus in a dialogue heavy film. Quips come fast. Ralph Kent (“Up in the Air,” “Downsizing”) wrote the original soundtrack. Hoku Ho Clements wrote the catchy main theme “Perfect Day.”
Additional cast includes Luke Wilson, Selma Blair, Jennifer Coolidge, and Victor Garber, with a brief appearance by Raquel Welch.
“Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde” returns with Witherspoon, Wilson, Coolidge, and Chihuahua Moonie (screen name Bruiser Woods). Sally Field, Regina King, Bruce McGill, and Dana Ivey join the cast for a story set in Washington, D.C., where Elle promotes legislation against animal testing for cosmetics. Director and writers are all new and Witherspoon is the executive producer. It’s a decent concept played for very broad laughs which rarely land.
Bonus features are carryovers on both discs except for new interviews from actress Jessica Cauffiel, who played Elle’s goodhearted but scatterbrained sorority sister Margot. Her big joke in LB2 is huge white eyes in a sunburned face. Blink and you’ll miss it.
What you’ll notice in the making-of interviews, deleted scenes, gag reels, music videos and trailers is how much better both films look, even the LB2 Blu-ray. Those old Standard Def featurettes look like third generation Youtube videos. Fun to watch, but wow – fuzzy. “Legally Blonde” has two commentaries: One with Luketic, Witherspoon and Producer Marc Platt, and another with Costume Designer Sophie de Rakoff Carbonell, Production Designer Melissa Stewart, Richmond, McCullah Lutz, Smith and Animal Trainer Sue Chipperton.
“Legally Blonde 2” has a commentary with Coolidge, Cauffiel and Alanna Ubach, who plays another sorority sister. They joke and watch the film.
Shout’s latest offering works for Golden Globe nominee (Best Comedy, Best Actress in a Comedy) “Legally Blonde.” It remains fun and relevant. Think of “Legally Blonde 2” as a great big extra and it’s a winning package.
— Kay Reynolds
Brooke drops Callahan requesting that Elle serve as her lawyer during her trial.