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"She learns to express her light and faith and to value passion in life."
Raymond Teague is the author of Reel
Spirit: A Guide to Movies That
He is an award-winning
His book is available by clicking the "Buy the Book" link above or by clicking here.
"Reel Spirit" Movie Reviews
Have you ever been made fun of or ostracized for being legally or illegally blonde or red-headed, tall or short, too young or too old, skinny or overweight, for being one race or another, or for having one belief and not another?
Then you might identify with Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) in Legally Blonde. Throughout most of her life, people have not taken Elle seriously because she is blonde. In fact, Elle says most people think of her as a joke - specifically, they think of her as a "dumb blonde" and a ditsy sorority girl.
"You're not smart enough, sweetie," her boyfriend Warner (Matthew Davis) tells Elle. Her own father echoes the belief. "You're not serious," he tells her.
The problem with Elle is that for most of her life she has bought into the beliefs based on people's stereotyping of her. Sure, she is blonde and in college she certainly acts the part of the stereotypical sorority girl (even her resume is pink and scented), but Elle proves once again that adage that you can't (or certainly shouldn't) judge by appearances.
Actually, Elle is quite smart and quite serious. When she sets her mind to something, watch out! "I'm not afraid of a challenge," she asserts. Elle's challenge that forms the backbone of the movie - and displays her own backbone - is her decision to enter Harvard law school, initially in an effort to get Warner back after he has dumped her because he wants a "Jackie, not a Marilyn" to flesh out his own law and political career.
At Harvard, Elle finds herself in situations and relationships that test her initiative, determination, stamina, integrity, loyalty, and love. It will come as no surprise that Elle proves she is equal to every test; the joy is in seeing how she takes and passes the figurative tests. Elle's essential goodness and sense of fairness are especially seen in her selfless actions for her beautician friend and another student stereotyped as a "dork." Elle's sense of her own worth and identity are best seen in her relationship with Professor Callahan (Victor Garber).
The fact is that Elle's character was always strong. It just was not being generally perceived that way because of stereotypes associated with her looks and interests (buying clothes, having manicures, reading Cosmopolitan, dressing her Chihuahua).
One time when she is depressed about her experiences in law school, Elle thinks about quitting and says to friend Emmett (Luke Wilson) that she shouldn't try to be something that she is not.
Emmett responds, "What if you're trying to be something you are?" He is right on target, because Elle's true nature is finally being allowed to shine rather than being suppressed under the weight of judgmental stereotypes. It turns out that her looks, her interests and her talents are assets, not liabilities.
Elle learns more than just the letter of the law at Harvard. She learns to express her light and faith and to value passion in life.
"You must always have faith in people," Elle says, "and most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself."
She disagrees with Aristotle's view that "The law is reason free from passion." Neither the law nor life should be free of passion, Elle argues. The likable, admirable Elle presents a winning case.