Saturday, April 19, 2014

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde


I've been busy making the talk show rounds, promoting my new delicious calcium chewable, SODOmints with Super Organic Dairy Ossifier, a product of Lesterene brand cosmetics and nutritional supplements. It's been great fun and I've been knocking the studio audiences dead everywhere I go. By the time I finish my Supercalcifragilisticosteoporosis tap number while cheering 'SODOmints for SODOmight', all those lovely people out there in the bleachers are absolutely dumbstruck. Even Jerry Springer pronounced me 'unbelievable'. I think I need a new costume though, something with a lot of organdy in cool mint hues. His other guest, a Reverend Phelps, however, had some very unkind things to say about me and my slogan. I don't recall my Bible all that well but I don't remember anything in it about God being against nutritional supplementation.

The top bosses at GAC cosmetics, parent company of Lesterene brands, are hard at work coming up with new products to add to the line. We hope to have "Busy B" complex and a whole line of tropical fish oil beauty products and supplements, complete with a Finding Nemo plush toy tie in, ready for stores by the end of the month. I think this latter has real possibilities. Just a teaspoonful, if taken internally, can help lower the risk of heart disease and, if applied to the scalp, it can give a new lustrous shine and richer body to hair.

With all this recent talk of beauty products and having to choose an appropriate wardrobe for personal appearances, I've barely had time to head for the local Cineplex at all. I finally had a little free time this past weekend so I packed up Tommy, my new personal trainer and Jungian psychotherapist, and off we went to see a film in which fashion and beauty are paramount, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde with Reese Witherspoon, a sequel to 2001's sleeper hit Legally Blonde in which Miss Witherspoon first essayed the role of Elle Woods, blonde sorority queen who turned out to have a brain.

In this film, the screenwriters, (Kate Kondell with Eve Ahlert and Dennis Drake as story contributors) seem to have completely forgotten all character development from the first movie. One of the small joys of the original film was watching Elle learn to use her brains for something other than hair care and fabric trivia. By the end of the first film, she had gone from girl to woman, ditzy, but still able to create change and difference. As this film opens, Elle has forgotten all life lessons learned at Harvard Law as, through some asinine plot developments, she manages to get herself fired from her prestigious Boston law firm associateship. Her upcoming wedding to Emmett (Luke Wilson, sleepwalking through his recurring role) has taken over her life and she knows that for it to be complete, her pet Chihuahua, Bruiser, needs to have his mother present at the nuptials. When Bruiser's mother is found languishing in a research test facility and she is unable to buy her freedom and with her career in a shambles, Elle takes a job with a high powered Massachusetts congresswoman (Sally Field in a role even more thankless than the one she had in Mrs. Doubtfire), in order to draft and pass animal rights legislation.

Elle is at first defeated by the political culture of Washington DC but soon, with the help of her doorman (Bob Newhart) she starts to win hearts and minds. It doesn't hurt that the tough congresswoman she most needs (Dana Ivey) was a member of her sorority or that Bruiser falls head over heels for the Rottweiler of another powerful Alabama congressman (Bruce McGill) - a development that is supposed to inspire hilarity, but remains sophomoric, at best. Soon Elle is, through a combination of good heartedness, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington pluck, and congressional make-overs, aided and abetted by her beautician friend Paulette (Jennifer Coolidge), plowing her way through the policy wonks in Jackie Kennedy pink Chanel suits and Manolo Blahnik heels.

There is so much to like about the character of Elle, and Reese Witherspoon plays her so well, that it's a shame she'd let down by the triteness of the script. Every situation is a bit of a rehash of something from the first film, only with a slightly different cast and an expert knowledge of facials, rather than perms, providing the dénouement. The problem is we've seen Elle do this before. I for one, want to see her moving forward with her life having learned something, not stuck in what amounts to a Groundhog Day time loop. Director Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, of Kissing Jessica Stein fame, keeps the pace moving and is generous with the comic moments for the supporting cast, but there's no getting around the by the numbers dialog and plotting.

Most of the supporting cast are old pros and make the most of the material. They all get little moments in which to shine, such as Dana Ivey's beauty parlor happy dance or Bruce McGill's agonizing over his dog and it's nice to see Bob Newhart with his trademark stutter and exquisite timing. Jennifer Coolidge continues to show herself to be the best aging white trash sexpot in the business and both Jennifer Caulfiel, as Elle's sorority sister Margot (the original dumb blond) and Mary Jane Rajskub as a frumpy congressional aide who just needs a little push, do lovely work.

The big winner here, besides Reese Witherspoon, is Sophie Carbonell and her witty costumes. Elle's outfits, from the Jackie Kennedy look, to Miss Fourth of July, to her versions of severe business wear are delightful, especially when repeated in miniature on Bruiser. If we must sit through something as trite as this, please give us some entertaining eye candy and Ms. Carbonell supplies it in spades.

I would like to be able to give a summer film that does not rely on explosions or comic book antecedents for success a thumbs up. Unfortunately, until the studios hire some writers rather than some hacks, it's going to be difficult to do so. Let's hope Ms. Witherspoon moves on to a project more worthy of her considerable talents.

Baseball field wedding snow globe. PowerPoint Chihuahua presentation. Sorority phone tree. Doggy spa beeper. March on the Capitol. Gratuitous heartfelt moment at the Lincoln Memorial. Gratuitous weeping congress woman. Gratuitous cheerleader dance number. Gratuitous transsexual sorority sister. Gratuitous UPS guy. Chihuahua skort. Congressional snap cup.

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