U.S. Release Date: July 2, 2003
Distributor: MGM
Producer: Marc Platt
Composer: Rolfe Kent
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Sally Field, Jennifer Coolidge, Luke Wilson
Running Time: 1 hour and 35 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (some sex-related humor)

Gidget Goes to Washington
by Scott Holleran

Thanks to the presence of sparkling Reese Witherspoon as girly Harvard Law graduate Elle Woods, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde is fun, light and sassy, just like its predecessor. Though it's minus the sense of triumph that made Legally Blonde a smash at the box office.

The sequel moves Elle from east coast academia, where her smart and sunny girlishness offered such a stark contrast to campus granola feminism, to the nation's capital.

When we last saw pink-splattered Elle, she had conquered Harvard Law School, outsmarted her foes, won her first courtroom trial, fallen in love and won everyone over with a rousing speech about being true to oneself. She had enrolled a frivolous sorority queen and emerged an educated woman—with intelligence as her finest tool and her integrity intact.

Legally Blonde 2 kicks off with attorney Elle planning her wedding to Harvard law professor Emmett Richmond (Luke Wilson, reprising his role). Almost everyone's back again—Paulette, the trashy manicurist (Jennifer Coolidge), now married to her UPS man, and Elle's two sorority sisters—and things get giddy when Elle tries to find a role for her dog, Bruiser, in the wedding ceremony.

The plot's a dog but there are some funny moments—all cute and winky and totally forgettable. Elle shows up in ultra-pink at Capitol Hill—after shunning various outfits as too Nancy, too Hillary and too Monica—and she turns a few heads to hilarious, if predictable, effect.

Elle's mission—passing a bill to outlaw cosmetics lab testing of animals—isn't terribly convincing, but the point is that Elle has principles. For a while, the movie almost has something to say about pragmatism and the dominant "whatever works" Washington code regardless of ideals.

Though a backstabbing Congressional staff (Regina King and others) sabotages her, Elle gets assistance from a congresswoman (Sally Field, at her best as Gidget grown up) and especially an old Washington doorman (the delightfully dry comedian Bob Newhart) and, before you can say Coco Chanel, she's running Congress like a Mary Kay Cosmetics seminar.

It's all silly fun yet offers tender moments, such as Elle seeking inspiration at the Lincoln Memorial. Mary Lynn Rajskub stands out as the ugly duckling that Elle takes under her wing and an especially hilarious scene has Elle dispatching her sorority sisters to drum up support for the bill.

Legally Blonde 2 comes up short of the first movie's charm because the intended victory doesn't resonate as a personal score for the infectiously cheerful girl from Bel Air. It's as though screenwriter Kate Kondell and writing team Eve Ahlert and Dennis Drake (Down with Love) didn't understand that what makes Elle irresistible isn't her cause, it's her idealism.

Part of Witherspoon's charisma is her projection of an independent woman who is also very feminine. Having Elle push PETA's animal rights agenda fails to pitch our Legally Blonde heroine as the politically incorrect nonconformist.

Legally Blonde 2 probably would have been better with the original writers (Kirsten Smith and Karen McCullah Lutz), but director Charles Herman-Wurmfeld (Kissing Jessica Stein), who takes over for the original's Robert Luketic, makes the best of it.

Despite a faulty foundation for the indomitable Elle Woods—whose sorority "snap cup" is the movie's emblem of goodness—Legally Blonde 2 hits its mark as an entertaining sequel.

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