By: Alex Phuong (Two Beers) –
Reese Witherspoon is one of the most recognizable actresses working today. She won the Academy Award for playing June Carter in Walk the Line (2005), received an Oscar nomination for playing Cheryl Strayed in Wild (2014),and recently appeared in the film Home Again (2017). Even with such a wide variety of roles and acclaim, perhaps Witherspoon’s most iconic performance was when she played Elle Woods in Legally Blonde (2001). This beloved comedy is a modern classic because of its quirky sense of humor along with its advocacy of feminism.
This film is laugh-out-loud funny! (LOL!) Some of the jokes might be risqué, but all of that makes the film very enjoyable to watch. Reese Witherspoon also delivers an amazing performance, and even received a Golden Globe nomination for her work on this film. This is also a great example of a “feel-good movie” because audiences feel a sense of relief at the film’s conclusion (but it will not be spoiled in this film review). Legally Blonde can also deliver a sense of empowerment as its strong female characters teach audiences that women can just be as independent as men. This is definitely a film filled with “girl power”!
Even with its empowering tone and feminist ideas, this film has its fair share of anti-feminist content. Some of the anti-feminist ideas involves the degradation of women. For example, there is scene in which Elle (Witherspoon) is dressed like a playboy bunny at a college party, which reveals the disturbing fact that some real-life women have those unfortunate professions. There are also a lot of negative stereotypes against women exhibited in the film primarily through the costumes that Witherspoon wears. Some of the dresses are very stylish, such as the red dress that Elle wears on her date with Warner near the beginning of the film. However, there is also a lot of usage of the color pink, which could imply negative ideas depending on how audiences feel about that “feminine” color. Even though Elle wears clothing with stereotypically feminine colors, her self-determination reveals the fundamental fact that outer appearances do not always represent a person’s true character, all of which still reiterates the film’s feminist themes.
Indeed, wearing pretty clothes is not the same as being “close-minded.” Not only are the clothes part of the feminist aspect of this film, but the title itself involves independence and self-determination. The word “blonde” describes Elle Woods’s blonde hair, which is a major feature of both her physical appearance as well as her vivacious personality. The adverb “legally” implies that Elle has the right to be herself no matter what other people say. She can be a homecoming queen. She can be (also) a lawyer. She can be anything she wants to be…legally! Because of the symbolic nature of the title, the story of Elle Woods has inspired countless people (and not just women) to express their own individuality. That sense of empowerment is most likely the reason why this film has endured in terms of its popularity and cultural influence.
Legally Blonde (2001) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every “dumb blonde” joke
Take a Drink: whenever Elle and Paulette do the “bend & snap”
Drink a Shot: every time Elle Woods wears anything pink