The comedy LEGALLY BLONDE, starring the effervescent Reese Witherspoon, brought its bend and snap to the big screen in 2001, following underestimated law student Elle Woods whose blonde ambition leads her from Bel Air to the hallowed halls of Harvard.
AFI Movie Club: LEGALLY BLONDE
Watch Chloë Grace Moretz announce LEGALLY BLONDE.
Director Robert Luketic on the making of LEGALLY BLONDE.
DID YOU KNOW? LEGALLY BLONDE marked Robert Luketic’s feature film directorial debut. He went on to direct other female-fronted comedies written by women including MONSTER-IN-LAW (2005) and THE UGLY TRUTH (2009).
DID YOU KNOW? Based on a 2001 novel of the same name by Amanda Brown, LEGALLY BLONDE told the story of her personal experiences while attending Stanford University’s law school. Film producer Marc Platt was also involved with developing Brown’s manuscript, which eventually moved the setting to Harvard University.
DID YOU KNOW? LEGALLY BLONDE was the second teaming of writing partners Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith. They previously adapted another literary source—William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew”— for the 1999 comedy 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU.
DID YOU KNOW? A surprise box-office success, LEGALLY BLONDE was produced for $18 million and grossed nearly eight times that amount.
DID YOU KNOW? LEGALLY BLONDE spawned various sequels and spinoffs, including two feature films to date and a musical that had its San Francisco premiere in 2007. A third movie has been announced for release in 2022.
DID YOU KNOW? LEGALLY BLONDE was honored with a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture—Musical or Comedy. Reese Witherspoon won the award for Best Actress—Musical or Comedy. She was also the recipient of the MTV Movie Award for Best Actress.
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The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Discussion Questions
- Released in 2001, LEGALLY BLONDE champions the trials of a law student who comes from a wealthy family and is often underestimated due to her “blonde ambition.” What are some of the qualities in Elle’s character that cause you to feel compassion for her journey even though she comes from a privileged background?
- Describe Elle’s transformation from being motivated by the men in her life to becoming her own catalyst for intellectual development.
- The Bechdel Test famously measures the amount of representation women have onscreen by asking three questions: Does the film feature two women or more that have names; do the women speak to each other; and do they discuss something other than a man? Does LEGALLY BLONDE pass this test? Describe some scenes that uphold feminist values and consider other plot points that may curtail the representation of empowerment.
- How does LEGALLY BLONDE defy stereotypes, and how does it depict stereotypes? What presumptions did you bring to this movie about “blondes” and do you think the bias against women like Elle is the same as prejudice? Does it do a disservice to deep rooted discrimination to compare it with Elle’s challenges?
- LEGALLY BLONDE depicts a scene of sexual harassment, in which Elle’s superior makes a pass at her and suggests that her accepting his advances will improve her career. What is Elle’s response to this unethical behavior, and what gives her hope to continue?
- LEGALLY BLONDE refers to a famous quote by Aristotle: “The law is reason, free from passion.” What does this mean in regard to Elle’s story, and how does the film challenge this adage?
- How would you rate LEGALLY BLONDE?
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