Bend and snap out of it – why I can’t stop watching (and reading) Legally Blonde

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen Legally Blonde. Staggeringly, it’s 20 years old this year (about time for its first spa visit). I love the story, the characters, the direction, the dialogue, the arc of Elle Woods – everything about it.

I’ve read the script countless times – and as I’m currently redrafting a comedy feature, I’ve taken to poring over it – and other of my favourite comedies – with a fine toothcomb, trying to pick apart how and why they work so well.

My story is a fish-out-of-water comedy, and Elle Woods is such a clever, funny, refreshing example of this. She’s a character seemingly without any dark side. She has an open, sunny, positive attitude to everything, and her cheerful naivety is an incredible tonic. The fact that she breezes through life on a pink cloud – much to the consternation of overly-serious Harvard Law students – is hilarious in itself.

The scene where she has to introduce herself to her crunchy fellow students, much to their complete amazement and obvious disgust, is brilliant at showing her cheerful friendliness in the face of their x.

But the moment she puts all her – seemingly inconsequential – haircare and other beauty knowledge to work in the final courtroom scene is a masterpiece of comedy from start to finish.

From the moment that Elle discovers that Enrique is gay (due to his tragic mis-seasoning of her Prada shoes) to the moment she gets fully into her lawyer groove and hammers Chutney on the stand with her perm-maintenance knowledge, the courtroom scene delivers again and again. Even the moment Elle’s Chihuahua Underdog emerges from her handbag to surprise the prosecution lawyer is beautifully done.

I’ve watched it so many times that I can run it in my head without having to press a button on my remote. Perhaps I need to get out more. Oh, wait… And having read the sublime script by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith probably even more times than I’ve seen the film, I was surprised and pleased by how faithful Robert Luketic’s direction is to their writing.

When I read The Devil Wears Prada script, I couldn’t understand why the final film omitted so much from the script (whether in direction or in the edit). I’m puzzled over why some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments in the script that didn’t make it into the film.

With Legally Blonde however, every moment in the script seems to have made it in.

With a second sequel in the works, I’m curious to see where they’ll take Elle next.

Image: Tracy Bennett /Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer


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