Director: Robert Luketic
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair, Victor Garber, Jennifer Coolidge, Matthew Davis, Holland Taylor, Ali Larter, Linda Cardellini, Raquel Welch
Released: July 13, 2001
The movie starts with her sorority sisters wishing her good luck on her big date with her boyfriend, Warner (played by Matthew Davis...he played Alaric in The Vampire Diaries if that means anything to you). She thinks he's going to propose, but instead he breaks up with her because he is moving East to attend Harvard Law School and needs someone more serious than Elle. As he puts it, he needs someone who is more like a Jackie and less like a Marilyn. Elle, upset about all this, sniffles, "You're breaking up with me because I'm too BLONDE?"
While at a nail salon, a place where Elle goes when she's very upset and needs to relax, she sees a marriage announcement for Warner's older brother in the paper. He is marrying a girl who attended law school at Yale and Elle exclaims this is what she has to do to win Warner back. Now, following a guy all the way across the country and changing just for him isn't the best example for a strong-minded and independent woman to set, but when we first meet Elle, she is a little too dependent on her boyfriend.
We see her first glimmer of not being the stereotypical dumb blonde when she's shopping with her friends for a new dress and the saleswoman, thinking she's just a dumb college girl shopping with daddy's money tries to sell her a dress full price on the sale rack, but Elle, having her major be in Fashion Merchandising, tells her she knows it's not a new dress. We also know she is not dumb because she passed her LSAT to get into Harvard Law School and studied hard for it. Although, I do think the old men at the Harvard Admission Office enjoyed her video essay where she's wearing a bikini in most of it!
After she gets into Harvard, she and her Chihuahua, Bruiser, drive her convertible all the way from L.A. to Massachusetts with a big moving van behind her. I don't know how she managed to fit everything she had in that moving van into her dorm room, but I guess she somehow managed to make it work! And her dorm room is big enough to fit an elliptical! When she arrives, she is mocked by everyone, being called "Malibu Barbie". Her first week in her classes don't go so well. She is the only one to not have a laptop, instead opting for a heart-shaped notepad and a pink pen with a feather in it. She seems more concerned with looking the part of a law student than actually preparing to be one. (Although, I must admit, her outfit for the first day of class is really cute and the glasses ARE a nice touch!) When the teacher (Holland Taylor) calls on her, she says she didn't know there was an assignment and doesn't have the textbook yet, while everyone around her does.
A snobby, preppy girl (Selma Blair, who, I must say is killing it as Kris Kardashian-Jenner-whatever she went by back then/goes by now in American Crime Story: The People vs OJ Simpson) is rude to Elle and of course later she finds out that she is Warner's fiance! He explains to Elle that they used to date when he grew up in Boston and recently got back together. Her name is Vivian Kensington and she is the Jackie to Elle's Marilyn. She excludes Elle when Elle wants to join their study group, saying they already have a full group and the notes have already been divvied up. She invites Elle to a party, but tells her it's a costume party when it's not so Elle looks ridiculous when she shows up as a bunny. Vivian is not the only one who thinks Elle is a joke, so do most of the other students in her classes. Elle decides it's time to get serious and we get a montage of her studying and doing well in her classes.
One of her closest friends is Paulette (Jennifer Coolidge), the manicurist Elle met when she went to a nail salon when she had to vent to someone about Warner and his new girlfriend. Paulette has a crush on the UPS guy, but has never said a word to him except for "Fine" or "Okay" whenever he asks her how she is. Elle tells her the secret that is the Bend and Snap to get a guy's attention. I get the "Bend" part where a woman "accidentally" drops something and bends over to show off her booty, but I don't get the "Snap" part where she pops back up with attitude. That part seems way too rehearsed and doesn't come off as natural. There's a funny, but ridiculous montage of Elle showing Paulette the Bend and Snap and a bunch of women (and one gay gay), also familiar with the Bend and Snap, volunteer their services to show Paulette how the Bend and Snap is done. A few days later, when the UPS guy comes to deliver a package ("I got a big one for you!"), she drops her pen, but just as she's starting to do her "Snap", he also bends over to pick up the pen and she ends up snapping back up right into his face and breaking his nose! Ouch!
After proving herself in the classroom, Elle gets a chance to help out a case that Professor Callahan (Victor Garber) has taken on along with some other law students includingWarner and Vivian and a third year law student, Emmett (Luke Wilson), who has taken a liking to Elle. They are defending a woman named Brooke (Ali Larter) who Elle knows because she is from the same Sorority as Elle and taught a fitness class in L.A. that Elle attended a few times. She is accused of murdering her much older husband because her step-daughter (Linda Cardellini), who is the same as her, claims she saw Brooke standing over her dad's dead body drenched in blood. When Callahan and the others asks her for an alibi, she won't give them one, but when Elle goes to visit her in jail, Brooke tells her she was getting lipo done the day of the murder and doesn't want anyone to know because she will be considered a fraud.
Brooke ends up firing Callahan (who turns out to be a jerk after he comes on to Elle) and hires Elle as her main attorney. It's a little dicey at first, but she ends up catching the stepdaughter in a lie when she repeatedly says on the witness stand that she was in the shower when her dad was shot, but when Elle asks her what she did earlier that day, she said she got a perm and Elle tells her she couldn't have been in the shower because it would ruin the perm if her hair got wet and we can clearly see her curls are still intact. This causes the stepdaughter to burst our and confess that she killed her father, explaining she thought it was going to be Brooke who was walking through the door when she shot the gun. Um...why didn't she just say she was wearing a shower cap? That's what I would have done! I feel like she did not think this through at all! Maybe the guilt was too much for her.
I loved the scene in the courtroom when her two best friends from L.A. come to visit her and are gushing how cute everything is and tell the jury to "vote for Elle!" I also love the scene when she introduces her and her dog as "Gemini vegetarians!"
A very cute and charming movie that I highly recommend! It's so beloved that even a musical has been made from it!