Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Movie Review - Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde

The first Legally Blonde film was a breath of fresh air on the comedy scene. Witty, inventive, and sometimes hilarious, it was everything a comedy should be. Centred around the efforts of a Barbie character trying to make it in Harvard to save her ill-fated love affair, via a string of unlikely means, it had many wonderful moments and is a film that, while not outstanding, retains a special place in my heart.

But sequels very seldom match up to the originals, and this is a case in point. Almost by definition the freshness of an original idea is lost in a sequel – after all, it’s not a new idea anymore. (And let’s face it, Hollywood has very few genuinely new ideas to offer – not that an old idea couldn’t necessarily make a wonderful film, of course…) Legally Blonde was different, and clever. Reese Witherspoon was wonderfully sweet, innocent, and just plain gorgeous – I can’t imagine anyone having played the main character, Elle Woods, better than she does. In this sequel she’s just as good, but hampered by a rather illogical script.

Some comedies put real people into unlikely situations. Some put unlikely people into real situations. The first Legally Blonde film fell into the latter category, and worked really well. LB2, however, seems unsure which category it wants to fit into, and largely only succeeds in putting unlikely people into unlikely situations. And sadly, this usually fails to work.

There are some good comedic moments in the film, but not nearly enough. The storyline centres on Elle being fired from her job due to her concern for animal rights, and starting a new job in Washington where she can continue to fight her corner. There the only well thought-out character in the film, a hotel doorman who’s seen every political scandal in the last 30 years at close quarters and thus knows Washington politics (and politicians) inside out helps her to fight the fine fight. Et cetera. It’s all rather predictable and the characters ill-defined.

Another problem with the film is that it starts out seeming to want to actually make a serious point about the American political system (which, let’s face it, has pretty much the same strengths and weaknesses as any other democracy in the planet – i.e. it’s far from perfect), but chickens out completely and the speech at the end, while funny, is just too pink and fluffy for words. It’s almost as though the scriptwriters did a U-turn for their own sakes in the same way that a major character in the film does… Though she’s able to basically get away with it completely in the end – a self-fulfilling prophecy about the scriptwriters not having the strength to carry their convictions to the end of the film?

The story really beings at the point where Elle, on a mission to find Bruiser (her dog)’s mother (so she can invite her to the wedding – oh yeah there’s a side-plot about her marriage) stumbles upon an animal research lab. In fact Bruiser, the dog, is the real star of the show. The husband-to-be (Luke Wilson– the good guy love interest from the first film) is quite unconcerned that, with only 3 months to go to their wedding, his wife-to-be is jetting off to Washington with not a thought for him. Nor does she apparently spare him a thought during the whole time she’s away. In fact, there is absolutely ZERO chemistry between the two. They’re supposed to be a couple in love with only a quarter of a year to go till they’re wed – well you certainly wouldn’t know it if you weren’t told. I know what my wife and I were like just over a year ago when we were shortly to be married – and you wouldn’t have needed anyone to tell you that we were in love! Whether it’s the fact that they hardly spend any time on screen together or they don’t like each other off-screen, the whole wedding idea just doesn’t work. The other characters seem to be there mainly as props – there’s practically no characterisation of any value in the whole film.

Well, that’s it really. You’ll have guessed how the end of the film works out without me telling you or watching the film. It does have some redeeming points, and will certainly make you laugh a few times – although there was only one moment that made me laugh out loud, there were plenty of little incidents that caused a wry smile. Oh and okay I can think of one other good thing about it - there's some nice time-lapse photography of Washington.

I can’t recommend it but if you want a film that you don’t need to engage your brain for at all, and have had a drink or two and are feeling giggly anyway, this could be perfect.

Yes, I know. That’s not much of a recommendation… But it’s all this film deserves.

If you're looking for a better romantic comedy, you might want to try:

Never Been Kissed
French Kiss
Two Weeks Notice
About a Boy

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