Legally Blonde 2, that is.
A good friend of mine and I have for the last several summers made a point of seeing as many bad summer movies as possible, and particularly those that have some girl-appeal (witness the trip to see Josie and the Pussycats two years ago. I seem to have blocked last summer’s fare out of my memory). Her daughters, 8 and 13, are at the heart, I think, of Legally Blonde 2‘s target demographic, if I can judge by the general composition of last evening’s audience.
And I can’t help but wonder, after having seen the movie, where the girl-empowering notions they’re coming away with originate. The L.A. Times review refers to Elle (the Reese Witherspoon character, for those of you who haven’t partaken of the Blonde franchise) as an “alpha girl,” though an unlikely one, suggesting that her effectiveness as a character lies both in her personal power and in her nonthreateningness. And indeed, repeatedly throughout the movie we see Elle charm her way into being taken seriously by a slew of Beltway politicos, including the hardened, embittered Congresswoman from Texas and the “conservative NRA spokeman from Alabama” (who is referred to as such no fewer than three times in the movie).
So, message number one: smart is good, but sweet and cute is necessary.
Elle encounters a bunch of opposition in the course of her quest — which quest involves the ever-so-1990 issue of the animal-testing of cosmetics — and in particular from a series of powerful women, including her boss, her co-workers, and the above-mentioned Congresswoman from Texas, who is finally won over only through the uncovering of their sorority-sisterhood, and who then performs the most thorough about-face ever seen in U.S. politics. Elle does get support in this quest as well, but that support comes from a few limited places:
2. Sorority sisters.
4. The style-challenged.
And the message here? Powerful, attractive women cannot be trusted — unless they have also drunk from the sacred cup of sisterhood?
Okay, I’m willing to countenance the argument — which someone ought to bring up about now — that it’s a summer movie, for crying out loud, and a sequel at that. It’s not to be taken so seriously as all this. It’s darned entertaining at moments — in fact, the Times is not far wrong when it claims that the movie’s “wonderfully wacky absence of logic” is one of its charms. But I couldn’t help but look around that theater-ful of 8-to-13 year-olds and wonder what of all this might wind up internalized after all.