Reviews > Culture

Blonde's ambition

Culture | Legally Blonde 2 is a lightweight comedy and a summer hit, but it's also surprisingly subversive

Issue: "Marx isn't dead," July 19, 2003

Legally Blonde 2 is the anti-Schindler's List. Or, call it the anti-Braveheart. Often, when Christians discuss movies-especially the pitfalls of the MPAA ratings system-one of these Stephen Spielberg or Mel Gibson epics is trotted out as an R-rated film eminently worth watching. Viewers could do far worse with many films bearing a more family-friendly rating.

And here we have a perfect complement to the examples above. The PG-13-rated Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, & Blonde is not only a bad movie-it's surprisingly subversive. It's a poster child for conservative-bashing, liberal-agenda-setting, political correctness innocuously packaged in lightweight comedy.

Blonde 2, which earned $22 million at the box office during the July 4 weekend, is the sequel to the surprise 2001 hit, a slight but crowd-pleasing comedy that celebrated the beauty of blonde-dom: fabulous shoes, perfect hair, and the joy of retail shopping. Legally Blonde had sexual humor, but was buoyed by a sweet, good-natured edge, some funny running jokes, and a very charismatic performance by Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods, would-be lawyer and ultimate blonde.

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The first film possessed a certain charm that resonated with audiences, built mostly around Elle's spunky, bubbly personality, nicely rounded out by a genuine vulnerability in Ms. Witherspoon's performance. Few audience members will remember much about the film's paper-thin plot, involving Elle's attempt to graduate from Harvard Law in a complicated effort to win her boyfriend back.

But here's what most audiences are likely to remember from Legally Blonde 2: that the dog is gay. Elle's beloved Chihuahua, Bruiser, is "outed" during the film. He falls in love with a Republican Congressman's much larger rottweiler at a doggy beauty salon. After meeting-and immediately consummating their relationship-the next scene finds the dogs together in the park, nuzzling each other while decked out in black leather and stud bondage gear.

Bruiser's sexuality becomes a recurrent theme, and is the most ludicrous element in a film awash in vapid political correctness. It may be hard to imagine, but the ditsy fun of the first film has been replaced by a political agenda. Shockingly, Legally Blonde 2 is an issue movie.

At the center of the plot is Elle's crusade to ban animal testing, which takes her to Washington, D.C., as an aide to Rep. Rudd (Sally Field). The animal-rights element is so poorly developed that it's difficult to take the issue at all seriously. Had this been the extent of the film's political agenda, it could have rested comfortably in its own mediocrity, mostly unnoticed.

But the personal life and political agenda of Blonde 2's director bled into the film as well. Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, the director who took the helm from Robert Luketic for the second film, is described by the Los Angeles Times as a "longtime liberal activist." His first directorial effort, Kissing Jessica Stein, was a modest independent hit about a young woman experimenting with and discovering her budding homosexuality.

During the postproduction phase of Blonde 2, the Times also reported, he was splitting his time between this film and a volunteer effort to produce "short documentaries" on Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean. Mr. Herman-Wurmfeld's influence over the movie is more than speculative. He is gay, and he told the Times that Blonde 2, despite its status as a franchise, "will be a Charles Herman-Wurmfeld movie because I am here making it," adding that he added the gay jokes to the script himself.

It's a bad idea to make a mountain out of a molehill, and, in many respects, Blonde 2 is a molehill. It's also a fruitless (and often hypocritically selective) effort to use the sexuality of those involved in a film to criticize it. Both Ellen Degeneres and Ian McKellan are outspoken homosexuals, and both turned in outstanding, apolitical performances recently in equally outstanding films: Finding Nemo and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, respectively. To single out the sexuality of these actors (as some have done), at least in the context of their work in these films, ignores the real value of the performances themselves.

But Blonde 2 is a different story altogether. The film's director is not just gay; he's using his film to promote a homosexual agenda. The film's message boils down to the common liberal perversity that conservative and/or moral ideals are based on ignorance and isolation. That if stodgy conservatives (like a Republican congressman with a gay dog) could simply experience things firsthand-love for an animal, a relationship with a homosexual -they would be as open and understanding as liberals.

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