As frivolous and confectionary as they may be, the Legally Blonde films are hard to dislike thanks to affable star Reese Witherspoon's committed performances. Shout! Factory continues to mine the MGM archives with this two-disc release, which includes Legally Blonde and its vastly inferior sequel, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, both of which have been long available on Blu-ray. To twist your arm, Shout! has given Legally Blonde a new transfer from a 4K scan and a new interview with Jessica Cauffiel, and the whole package is wrapped in a very pink slipcover. If you do not yet own these films and are a fan this may be the way to go; but I cannot see upgrading solely for these three additions.
In Legally Blonde, sorority president Elle Woods (Witherspoon) gets dumped by her boyfriend, Warner Huntington III (Matthew Davis), as he prepares to adopt a more serious persona at Harvard Law School. Undeterred, Elle sits for the LSAT, makes a splashy video application and ultimately gets invited to join the incoming 1L class, where she discovers pink pens, forgotten assignments and tight skirts are not the norm. Turns out Elle is really smart, y'all, so she buckles down and lands a prestigious internship with a professor (Victor Garber) who is also a defense attorney representing a young widow (Ali Larter) on trial for the murder of her husband. Warner's snobby new girlfriend, Vivian (Selma Blair), is displeased with Elle and assumes she is sleeping her way through school. Initially shunned by her classmates, Elle finds friendship in an unlucky-in-love nail technician, Paulette (Jennifer Coolidge).
The idea that someone facing murder would look to a law school intern for salvation because they were in the same sorority is ludicrous, but all of this works in the world of Legally Blonde. Witherspoon is good at towing the line between Delta Nu ditz and semi-competent legal mind, and, if you agree to just take the ride with director Robert Luketic and company, you will probably enjoy yourself. Witherspoon is joined by Luke Wilson as a new love interest, and carts her Chihuahua pup Bruiser everywhere she goes. I know this movie got a lot of play with my younger sister and her friends upon its release, and it's hard to deny its charms 17 years later. While Legally Blonde may not be a classic comedy, it's short, funny and buoyed by Witherspoon's committed performance. ***1/2 (out of *****).
The sequel, Red, White & Blonde, offers some of the same Elle-centric charms, but the plot is absolutely stupid. Now a real lawyer, Elle leaves her reputable law firm after learning it represents a corporation that tests cosmetics on animals, including Bruiser's mom. She begins work for Congresswoman Victoria Rudd (Sally Field) and pushes "Bruiser's Bill" to make such testing illegal. Her colleagues in Washington call her "Capital Barbie," and are unconvinced Elle deserves a spot on the Hill.
With a story that I assume writer Kate Kondell came up with in five minutes, Red, White & Blonde is dumber, safer and less entertaining than its predecessor by a mile. Witherspoon still has fun with the performance, as does the returning Coolidge, but this sequel does not grow its lead character and offers little successful parody of D.C. politics. If anything, Elle seems less competent as a professional than she did in law school. Field is wasted, as is Regina King as a grouchy fellow staffer. This film is the prototypical, early 2000s sequel rushed to theaters without inspiration to completely underwhelm its audience. ** (out of *****).
The good news is that the better movie gets a new 2.35:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer from a 4K scan of the original camera negative. Legally Blonde appears sharp and detailed, and handles the early pink and purple overkill with ease. Skin tones are accurate, contrast is good and colors are nicely saturated. The film looks good in motion, with light, natural grain, and blacks are steady. I noticed no issues with edge enhancement, and only a couple of minor specks. **** (out of *****).
Shout! recycles the old MGM transfer for Red, White & Blonde and it does not impress. The 1.85:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image offers a filtered, edgy appearance with minor print damage, weak colors, middling detail and frequent soft shots. It's not unwatchable by any means, but it is barely HD material. **1/2 (out of *****).
Each film receives a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix and a 2.0 DTS-HD stereo mix. The surround mixes are competent and offer light ambience, clear dialogue and appropriately mixed musical selections. I did not notice any issues with distortion or clipping. English SDH subtitles are included. ***1/2 (out of *****) for each track.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
This two-disc set includes separate discs for each movie. The discs are packed in a standard case with two-sided artwork that is wrapped in a slipcover. On the Legally Blonde disc you get an Audio Commentary by Luketic, Witherspoon and Producer Marc Platt; an Audio Commentary by Costume Designer Sophie de Rakoff Carbonell, Production Designer Melissa Stewart, Director of Photography Anthony B. Richmond, Screenwriters Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith, and Animal Trainer Sue Chipperton; a newly shot Interview with Jessica Cauffiel (13:31/HD); Deleted Scenes (9:45/SD); Inside Legally Blonde (21:37/SD); The Hair that Ate Hollywood (9:00/SD); the "Perfect Day" Music Video by Hoku (3:26/HD) and a Theatrical Trailer (2:23/HD).
For Red, White & Blonde you get an Audio Commentary with Coolidge, Cauffiel and Alanna Ubach; another newInterview with Cauffiel (8:37/HD); Blonde Ambition (22:25/SD); Stars and Stripes, Never! (7:35/SD); Elle's Anthem (7:13/SD); Deleted Scenes (9:31/SD); a Gag Reel (2:39/SD); "We Can" Music Video by Leeann Rimes (3:41/SD); Hair Apparent (6:55/SD); Puppy Love (2:23/SD); Pretty in Pink (6:36/SD); and a Theatrical Trailer (2:08/HD).
Shout! is going to town releasing catalogue titles, but I am not sure that anyone was asking for new releases of these already available films. Legally Blonde is frivolous fun, but its sequel is not particularly good. Shout! gives the original film a new 4K transfer and a new interview supplement, but I can't recommend an upgrade if you already own these titles. I know, "Rent It" is not really a feasible option, but decide whether this is a set you need to own before buying.