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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Charles Herman-Wurmfeld
Cast:
Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Sally Field, Bob Newhart, Regina King, Jennifer Coolidge, Bruce McGill, Dana Ivey
Writing Credits:
Amanda Brown (characters), Eve Ahlert, Dennis Drake, Kate Kondell

Tagline:
Bigger. Bolder. Blonder.

Synopsis:
When Elle (Witherspoon) discovers that her lovable chihuahua Bruiser's mom is locked in a cruel animal testing facility, she heads to D.C. to fight for animal rights, give Washington a makeover, and prove once and for all that America really is the land of the free ... and the home of the blonde!

Box Office:
Budget
$45 million.
Opening Weekend
$22.220 million on 3350 screens.
Domestic Gross
$89.808 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby 2.0
French Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 95 min.
Price: $27.98
Release Date: 11/4/2003

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary With Actors Jennifer Coolidge, Alanna Ubach, and Jessica Cauffiel
• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel
• Music Video
• Interactive Quiz
• “Blonde Ambition” Featurette
• Photo Gallery
• Trailers
• Booklet


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RELATED REVIEWS


Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde - Special Edition (2003)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 19, 2003)

With a gross of $95 million, 2001’s Legally Blonde didn’t exactly set box office registers on fire. However, as a low-budgeted flick onto whom few attached any expectations, the flick’s performance made it a sleeper hit and established Reese Witherspoon as a star who could sell tickets all on her own.

With the requisite elevated budget, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde went into production. It brought heightened expectations along with it, which the film lived up to reasonably well. Its $89 million gross didn’t quite match that of the original, but it came pretty close and marked Blonde 2 as a moderate success.

Methinks the flick might have done better if the filmmakers had bothered to do something more than just remake the original. Having mastered law school, Elle Woods (Witherspoon) gets engaged to her former professor Emmett Richmond (Luke Wilson) and enjoys her life as a lawyer. As she plans her wedding, she decides she needs her dog Bruiser’s birth mother to attend the ceremony. She hires a private detective who locates Bruiser’s mom.

After a misunderstanding, Elle discovers that Mrs. Bruiser is trapped at an animal cosmetics testing lab. They won’t let her go, so Elle seeks to get her law firm to pursue the matter, but her bosses show no interest. When she expresses her feelings, they fire her.

After a brief period of depression, Elle decides to change the system from within, and she pursues a career in Washington. She gets a job with fellow sorority sister Congresswoman Rudd (Sally Field) and tries to push legislation to ban animal testing. Along the way, she encounters a lot of resistance, especially from fellow aide Grace Rossier (Regina King). It’s up to Elle to work her magic and win over all her opponents.

When ones watches Blonde 2, one gets a terrible sense of déjà vu. The story finds Elle in a different place with some different motivations, but it essentially does little more than regurgitate the first flick’s plot. That one found Elle as a fish out of water who had to prove her worth, especially as opposed by a bitchy female who views her as an inferior. Blonde 2 does exactly the same thing, except in a more feeble manner.

That stems from the two issues. For one, Elle probably should have learned some tendencies to tone down her act over the years. Yeah, the first flick taught us to be ourselves, but there’s no way Elle could do so well without some compromise in her flamboyancy. Unfortunately, Blonde 2 doesn’t display that at all. If anything, Elle seems even more cartoony and over the top here.

Actually, all of the characters come across as artificial in the sequel. None of them seemed three-dimensional in the original movie, but they appear very broad and plastic here. The actors relentlessly overplay their lines, as if they recognize the cheesiness of the material and attempt desperately to make it work. The film also infuses the tale with a ridiculously high level of cutesy elements that make it tough to take.

Because of this, the movie goes out of its way to make the story serve the jokes rather than the other way around. For example, we get cracks like Paulette’s about her stripper grandmother. This comes out of nowhere and feels forced. Much of the flick’s attempted humor follows along the same lines, as the gags are disconnected from the thin plot.

The original film didn’t do much to stand out from the crowd, but Witherspoon helped redeem it. She tries her best here to make the movie lively, but even she can’t elevate this exercise in tedium. Bob Newhart also helps give the film a little more zing, but not enough. A bland rehash of the first movie, Legally Blonde 2 falls flat and fails to recapture any of its predecessor’s minor charm.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The picture looked generally satisfying, but it seemed a little more problematic than I’d like for a brand-new flick.

For the most part, sharpness appeared solid. A few shots looked slightly soft, though some of this seemed to result from glamour photography accorded to Witherspoon. Otherwise, the image remained crisp and detailed. The picture lacked jagged edges or moiré effects, but some light edge enhancement seemed to be absent. As for print flaws, a few appeared during the film, but they stayed minor. Some light grain popped up during a few interiors, and I saw occasional speckles and a little grit, but these were largely insubstantial.

Colors offered a strong aspect of Blonde. Mainly due to Elle’s ever-changing wardrobe, the film boasted a broad and varied palette, and the DVD replicated these tones nicely. The hues came across as bright and vivid with good clarity; I saw no concerns related to noise, bleeding, or other problems. Black levels also seemed deep and rich, while shadow detail appeared to be appropriately dense but not excessively thick. The smattering of source defects and light edge enhancement made Blonde less than stellar, but it remained mostly positive.

Most comedies maintain subdued soundtracks, and the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix of Legally Blonde 2 fell into that category. The soundfield remained heavily anchored in the front realm. The forward channels provided decent stereo imaging for music and effects, as sounds appeared in the appropriate locations and blended together efficiently. Not a lot of movement occurred across the speakers, but the mix seemed reasonably well integrated nonetheless. As for the surrounds, they offered light reinforcement of music and effects at most. Frankly, I usually wasn’t really aware that any audio came from the rears; the mix really did stick strongly with the front speakers.

Although the soundfield seemed bland, the quality of the audio helped compensate for any shortcomings. Dialogue appeared consistently natural and distinct, and I detected no problems related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects played a minor role in the film, but they sounded accurate and clean, with reasonable presence and no signs of distortion. Music worked fairly well, as the score presented good clarity. Highs seemed crisp and bright, while bass was acceptably rich and warm. Some of the flick’s pop songs were too trebly, but those caused no significant issues. In the end, the audio was nothing special, but it suited the film well.

For this special edition of Legally Blonde 2, we open with an audio commentary from actors Jennifer Coolidge, Alanna Ubach, and Jessica Cauffiel. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific track. I went into this piece with low expectations, especially since the three performers appear so infrequently in the film. However, they provide a surprisingly amusing and entertaining discussion.

Given their limited time onscreen, the trio don’t tell us a ton about the production. Occasional tidbits emerge, but they mostly give the flick the MST3K treatment. They don’t often provide openly snotty comments, and they present a moderate amount of praise for the participants, though not nearly as much as I anticipated. Coolidge makes sure of that, as she offers more than a few comically snide remarks. The track suffers from only a few slow spots, and it generally gives us a funny piece, even though it includes little data about the movie itself.

Next we find a featurette entitled Blonde Ambition. It runs 22 minutes and 25 seconds and presents the standard mix of movie snippets, behind the scenes shots, and comments from producers Marc Platt and David Nicksay, co-producer Jennifer Simpson, director Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, director of photography Elliot Davis, visual effects supervisor Raymond McIntyre Jr., and actors Reese Witherspoon, Bob Newhart, Sally Field, Alanna Ubach, and Jessica Cauffiel. The program covers topics like issues connected to the sequel, new cast members, location challenges, visual effects and lighting Witherspoon. Much of this falls into the category of fluff, but some decent information appears at times. It’s a decent featurette but nothing unusually good.

After this we discover seven deleted scenes. These last between 38 seconds and 132 seconds for a total of nine minutes, 16 seconds of footage. Some of these better set up the Congresswoman Rudd character and her relationship with Elle. A few others spell things out a little more clearly than in the final film, though not in a necessary way; the flick communicates the exposition acceptably well without these extra segments. Except for the alternate Congress piece meant for the end – a painful “Snap Cup Song” - none of the deleted scenes seem bad, but all were appropriate cuts.

More unused footage shows up via the Gag Reel. The two minute, 47 second piece consists of the usual nuttiness and mistakes. It’s pretty lame.

Don’t expect much from the music video for LeAnn Rimes’ “We Can”. Like most of this genre, it intercuts movie snippets with lip-synch footage of Rimes. She looks pretty good, but it remains a dull video.

Up next we find an interactive quiz. Called “Welcome to Delta Nu”, this seven-question exam tests your knowledge of Delta-related material from the film. It’s surprisingly tough. Get through it with a perfect score and you receive a special message from Witherspoon. (Actually, you get a special message if you fail as well, but it’s not the same one.) In a fun touch, cast members and the director ask the questions in video clips.

Within the Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery we locate 38 pictures. These mix publicity stills with shots from the set. Finally, some ads round out the package. The Special Trailers domain includes the film’s theatrical promo, a soundtrack spot, and a clip for the upcoming Sims 2 videogame. Other Great MGM Releases features trailers for the original Legally Blonde, A Guy Thing, and Agent Cody Banks. At the start of the disc, you have the option to watch a preview for Uptown Girls.

A four-page booklet completes the package. It presents a few basic notes about the production but lacks much depth.

The same goes for Legally Blonde 2 itself. Little more than a listless remake of the original, the film lacks any spark or creativity, and it seems like a dull and pointless affair. The DVD presents generally positive picture and sound along with a fluffy but mostly fun set of supplements. Those with a passion for Elle Woods might dig this exercise in inanity, but I can’t recommend it to anyone else.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.9714 Stars Number of Votes: 35
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