After earning a seriously bad reputation in the popular press, the alpha girl now finds an unlikely patron saint in the pretty-in-pink figure of Elle Woods. Chihuahua fancier and consummate fashionista, Woods is the former Miss Hawaiian Tropic runner-up cum Harvard Law School sensation who vanquished the bimbo stereotype two years ago in the surprise hit "Legally Blonde." The movie was irresistible nonsense, as girly, guiltless and old-school as Tab, and it would have popped like a fizzy bubble if it hadn't vaulted Reese Witherspoon into the ranks of the Hollywood elite.
"Legally Blonde" proved, yet again, that a faltering script and director are no match for the juggernaut of stardom. Given Witherspoon's abrupt high profile it's no surprise that Elle and her bubblegum-colored coordinates have been trotted out for more serious fun in a sequel titled "Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde." Now a Boston lawyer boldly striding toward partnership in couture heels, Elle enters with many of the same accessories that worked for her so well in the last movie. However, because this franchise's success doesn't rest with a girl and a guy, this time her dog, Bruiser (a pooch called Moondoggie), gets to hang off Elle's arm with next to no competition from her boyfriend, Emmett (Luke Wilson).
Elle may be planning a wedding as lavish as Princess Diana's — complete with rhinestone heels and vows at Fenway Park — but that's just the excuse to get the party started. With the dizzily infallible logic of comedy blonds from Gracie Allen to Lisa Kudrow, Elle decides that the only thing missing from her wedding plans is Bruiser's long-lost mother. With a wonderfully wacky absence of logic that constitutes one of the film's charms, she tracks down the errant mother, now a test subject imprisoned in a cosmetics-testing laboratory. One absurdity leads to another and before long Elle has moved to Washington, D.C., where, newly employed by Congresswoman Victoria Rudd (Sally Field), she sets up shop with the intention of banning cosmetics testing on animals.
Directed by Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, who had a modest indie success with "Kissing Jessica Stein," and written by script-polisher-about-town Kate Kondell, "Legally Blonde 2" moves at such a brisk, easy clip that there isn't much time to linger over its flaws. The story adheres strictly to formula, and the jokes are as cheap and fast as Elle's friend Paulette (Jennifer Coolidge), but however lightly played, the animal-rights issue gives the film indisputable kink. "Legally Blonde 2" deploys its radical chic more lightly than the zombie freakout "28 Days Later," another movie hinged on the human wrongs committed against the natural world. But there's something a bit more far out about a movie as willfully frivolous as this one dropping the names of PETA and Princeton philosopher Peter Singer as casually as Versace.
Although the film's politics are more inspiring than a flock of gun-toting Angels, they never get in the way of its silliness. Like a wait-listed designer handbag, the animal-rights plot provides Elle some stylishly correct, demographically savvy ornamentation. What's interesting here isn't what Elle is fighting for but the unshakable smile with which she wages her war. Elle has more changes of clothes than the four friends in "Sex and the City" combined and like them she's clearly happy to be female, nestled in the company of other women. She dresses in shades of sorbet and dolls up her Chihuahua like a bantamweight drag queen, but by fighting the good fight she's also giving alpha girls and women their due, rescuing them from the magazine horror stories and the taint of Hillary.
However empowering, alpha women like Hillary and Madonna don't make being a woman seem terribly fun — a lot of hard work, yeah, but not fun. Elle Woods does. Madonna's brand of stealth feminism made her an equal among male stars, but there's always been something exhausting about her need to outmuscle everyone in her periphery. You can see the same strenuous effort in Britney Spears' perfect triceps and the smiles of the teenage stars grimacing in the recent Vanity Fair. Witherspoon — whose production company is called Type A Films and who served as executive producer on "Legally Blonde 2" — isn't exactly Gloria Steinem, but not since Cyndi Lauper has a major pop figure projected such a blissfully happy, self-amused view toward being female. Elle knows you can have your Jimmy Choos and your equal paycheck too.
'Legally Blonde 2'
MPAA rating: PG-13, for some sex-related humor.
Times guidelines: Make that very mild sex-related humor.
Reese Witherspoon ... Elle Woods
Sally Field ... Congresswoman Rudd
Regina King ... Grace Rossiter
Jennifer Coolidge ... Paulette Parcelle
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures presents a Marc Platt production in association with Type A Films, released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Director Charles Herman-Wurmfeld. Writer Kate Kondell. Story Eve Ahlert, Dennis Drake, Kate Kondell. Producers Marc Platt, David Nicksay. Director of photography Elliot Davis. Production designer Missy Stewart. Editor Peter Teschner. Costumes Sophie de Rakoff Carbonell. Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes.
In general release.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times