Saturday, July 11, 2015

Lazy Movie Weekend: You got into Harvard Law?

What do I remember about 2001? It was the year I graduated from college and won a theatre department award (which was pretty cool). It was also the year that I moved to Hawaii to live with my parents because I had absolutely no idea what to do with my life. When you don't know what to do with your life, it's probably best to go back home to the people who love you most. And you know, live in paradise while you figure it out.

2001 was also the year that the world met Elle Woods. As portrayed by the amazingly talented Reese Witherspoon, Elle Woods is exactly the right heroine a person needs when approaching actual adulthood. When we meet Elle she is the picture of California, sorority girl perfection: blonde, tan, accessorized, and just about the nicest person you could ever want to meet. She's the president of her sorority and is anxiously awaiting a proposal from her "perfect" boyfriend, Warner. Elle's friends love her and she can spot a nasty saleswoman a mile away. Elle is on top of the world.

And then everything goes wrong. Legally Blonde is about a lot of things: female friendship, fashion, law school, how East Coast people are super mean, the power of a mani/pedi. When I re-watched the movie this weekend, I realized that it's also about figuring out what you want in your life especially when no one believes that you can be anything more than what's "expected" of you. That's the real power of Elle Woods; she becomes something that no one expected and she does it honestly and from the heart. It's refreshing and incredibly feminist. So let's grab an entire box of chocolates and some champagne and settle in for Legally Blonde.

  1. The movie begins in the best way possible with the infectious "Perfect Day" by Hoku. She just happens to be Don Ho's daughter. This song occasionally pops into my head for no reason and then morphs with Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" which is a very different song.
  2. There are so many things happening in the opening sequence it's hard to keep up. Elle's getting ready for her day, the sorority is coming together to celebrate her impending engagement, there's Clinque Happy perform (a staple for all women in the late 90s/early 2000s). 
  3. Hey look it's Robin (Kimberly McCullough) from the soap opera General Hospital! My mom has watched GH forever and I watched it on and off when I was in high school. Robin Scorpio was my favorite character and I was surprised (and pleased) to see her pop up here. Also I love her hair.
  4. The scene is the clothing store establishes Elle's smarts even if you don't realize it yet. 
  5.  I need a line of friends waiting to help me leave the house everyday. That would be outstanding. 
  6. Warner is the kind of guy that everyone thinks is a really great person but is really horrible. Elle's surprise at the course the dinner takes is best summed up with this line: "You're breaking up with me because I'm too blonde?"
  7. Serena and Margot are right about one thing: mani/pedis are a cure all for everything. I have experienced this myself numerous times. There's something soothing and therapeutic about having your nails done. It's also where Elle hatches her brilliant plan: she'll just go to law school.
  8. Y'all it's Agnes DiPesto from Moonlighting! Allyce Beasley was so wonderful on that show and she's great here too. Despite her misgivings about Elle's ability to get into Harvard, she never tells Elle not to apply. In fact, she tells Elle what she has to do to get in. 
  9. Once Elle sets her sights on Harvard, there's no turning back. She's supported by her friends (her parents, not so much) and starts prepping for the LSATs and has a Coppola make her admissions video. Question: which Coppola? Any guesses? There are a lot of them so who do we think it is?
  10. A perfect score on the LSAT is 180. Elle scored a 179. Just saying.
  11. Given my experience in undergrad admissions, the Harvard Law School admissions committee is even funnier to me now than when I first saw the movie. I know that most high school students think all admissions decisions are made this way. "Aren't we always looking for diversity?" 
  12. Everyone at Harvard is mean. Elle tells her adorable dog, Bruiser, "Don't be scared. Everyone will love you." It's as much for her as it is for him but it's just not true. No one likes her and they have no idea why "Malibu Barbie" is at Harvard. 
  13. One of my favorite quotes (although I love orange): "Whoever said orange was the new pink was seriously disturbed."
  14. Elle's first day of law school outfit is amazing. She tones down the pink in favor of more "studious" greens and blues and even adds some glasses for good measure. I will say that her notebook/pen combo needed more work for someone who wants to be seen as a "serious law student."
  15. Warner: You got into Harvard Law? Elle: What, like it's hard? 
  16. Holland Taylor! It's a shame that she was on that horrible Charlie Sheen tv show but she is pretty great as Professor Stromwell. 
  17. Enter Luke Wilson (my favorite Wilson brother) and Selma Blair. There are just too many great actors in this movie. Of course Emmett (Wilson) is a nice guy who tries to help Elle out and of course Vivian (Selma) is Warner's fiancee and the absolute worst.
  18. If you are not a fan of Jennifer Coolidge then I don't know if we can be friends. She is hilarious in everything she's in including that Hillary Duff Cinderella movie. Paulette is my favorite character in the movie. We'll get to the bend and snap soon enough.
  19. "Don't forget to bring your own Merlot." Avoid any party where this is part of the invitation.
  20. Elle enters the party dressed as a Playboy Bunny. Now most of us would have hightailed (see what I did there?) out of that party upon realizing that it was not a costume party. But not Elle. She sized up the situation, stood tall, and owned it. We should all have the confidence of Elle at that party every day.
  21. "I'm never going to be good enough for you am I?" and "I'll show you how valuable Elle Woods can be." are rallying cries. It's not about Warner anymore; it's about doing something for herself for a change. And doing it in an exceptionally great and Elle Woods way.
  22. Y'all it's Carl from The Breakfast Club! Apparently he lives in a trailer in Boston. I guess that's better than a van down by the river.
  23. Elle versus Warner in Callahan's class - it's a great moment where she proves she's smart and smarter than most of the people in the room. Watching the reactions of everyone else is the best part of this scene.
  24. "Oh! And it's scented. I think it gives it a little something extra, don't you think?" Maybe pink, scented resumes are the way.
  25. Callahan: "Do you think she woke up one morning and said, "I think I'll go to law school today?"
  26. And then Elle gets one of the internship spots. She seems to be the only one of the interns that does anything. Best quote from this sequence: "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands, they just don't." Also, Ali Larter joins an already stellar cast (she is also amazing in the Resident Evil movies too) as Brooke Taylor Windham, fitness guru and possible murderess.
  27. The Bend and Snap sequence: I need to know if anyone has ever successfully used this move. Elle's stats about it's effectiveness are pretty amazing but really ladies, does this work? Also, check out Elle's shoes in this scene. They are amazing (as is the majority of her wardrobe).
  28. Another question: how does Elle actually get all of her "necessities" into the prison for Brooke? I don't think any of those items are on the approved list.
  29. I've spoiled a lot of things here for you (you've had 14 years so deal with it) but I'm not going to tell you Brooke's alibi. It's for her to tell.
  30. Lots of good relationship changes in the second half of the movie. Emmett continues to encourage Elle to be the best she can be; Elle and Vivian start on their path to friendship, and Warner shows how awful he actually is. And so does Callahan. 
  31. As stereotypical as the scenes with Enrique are, it's a nice lead in to Elle becoming the lawyer we all know she is. Her intuition starts to open the case up a bit and seriously, Elle would never wear last season.
  32. Raquel Welch and Linda Cardellini are also great as the ex-wife and stepdaughter. I love how Elle goes from unsure law student to fledgling lawyer in just a few minutes. "The rules of hair care are simple and finite. Any Cosmo girl would have known."
  33. Fun Fact: Reese Witherspoon has 40 different hairstyles in the movie.
  34. The final scene at graduation was added to the film after test screenings took place. Test audiences wanted to know what happened to everyone. Witherspoon was in England filming another movie so her part was filmed separately from the audience and then edited together. I've always thought Luke Wilson looked really weird in this sequence and I was right. He had already started filming The Royal Tenebaums and had shaved his head. He's wearing a wig. 
  35. And of course, Elle proves that we can all get what we want if we work hard, don't lose faith in ourselves and others, and frankly, just be nice to one another. Let's end this the way we began with a "Perfect Day."

Like it's hard
Courtroom scene
Orange is the new pink

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