by Julian Spivey
In December I saw something called the “12 Movies Challenge” on Facebook. The premise was that you would have 12 months to watch 12 movies recommended by 12 friends. I don’t often participate in such social media challenges but being a movie buff I felt this might be an interesting way to get out of my comfort zone a bit when it comes to watching movies.
My Facebook buds gave me some films that I’ve been meaning to watch and I pretty much front-loaded those on the list – though not explicitly stated in the challenge rules I am opting to watch one film a month.
A Best Picture winner like “Out of Africa” is an obvious choice for me to get to at some point – that point is now going to be March of this year. But there are certain movies I’m not really looking forward to all that much – I’m looking at you “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken,” my August selection. Then there’s the acclaimed stuff that isn’t really up my alley like the anime feature “Spirited Away,” which I’ve scheduled for November. That will truly be me getting out of my comfort zone.
Here are the 12 movies recommended to me and the months I’ve assigned myself to watch them:
January: “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence” (1983)
February: “Till” (2022)
March: “Out of Africa” (1985)
April: “Legally Blonde” (2001)
May: “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006)
June: “The Birdcage” (1996)
July: “Morning Glory” (2010)
August: “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” (1966)
September: “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006)
October: “Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975)
November: “Spirited Away” (2001)
December: “The Last Laugh” (1924)
Now, you might be thinking if you read my previous month’s entry that April’s recommended movie was supposed to be another Meryl Streep feature in “The Devil Wears Prada,” which was selected for me by my friend and The Word contributor Tyler Glover.
But Tyler graciously allowed me to swap “The Devil Wears Prada” out with “Legally Blonde,” which was supposed to be my selection for May. You see, “Legally Blonde” was recommended by my wife, Aprille, and her birthday was April 2 and I knew she would really love it if we watched the film together for her birthday.
“Legally Blonde,” released in 2001, was one of the movies I really wasn’t looking forward to watching when this challenge began. I mostly just figured it wasn’t a movie for me. It would seem to be almost an exact representation of what a “chick flick” would be – and not the kind of rom-com like “When Harry Met Sally,” which is honestly as beloved among men as it is among women. And, you know, after watching “Legally Blonde” I can confirm that it’s probably not a film for me – but I didn’t hate it. I didn’t even dislike it. It’s not something I’ll ever want to watch again – but I could say that about many films.
I think it’s possible the film, which was directed by Robert Luketic (whom I’d never heard of before) and written by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith based on a novel by Amanda Brown, mostly accomplished what it set out to do. But I also have some questions about whether or not it really did. Because I didn’t view “Legally Blonde” in the same way I know my wife does and I believe most of its fans do. For instance, “Legally Blonde” is a comedy – but I didn’t feel it was very funny. But, then again, I’m probably not going to find girly, sorority and blonde humor all that funny. The film is also billed as a rom-com, which I just don’t see at all. Sure, Reese Witherspoon's Elle Woods winds up with the guy in the end in Luke Wilson’s Emmett Richmond, but they don’t have a whole lot going on between them in the film and none of it is romantic. It’s nice that Emmett respects her from the start and sees her talents and her for whom she really is, unlike the douchebag Warner Huntington III (played by Matthew Davis), her boyfriend at the movie’s outset – but the movie has virtually nothing to do with their relationship, effectively meaning it’s not a rom-com. The movie also seems to wrap up RIDICULOUSLY fast. Like the writers were like, “OK, I’m tired. Let’s end this.”
Here's what I admired about “Legally Blonde,” and it pretty much all comes down to Elle Woods. This movie and her character could’ve been really dumb and when the title of the film plays off the “dumb blonde” stereotype you kind of expect the character to be dumb, to be the punchline of all those amateurish “dumb blonde” jokes you’ve ever heard. But there wasn’t a single moment in “Legally Blonde” where I felt Elle Woods was dumb – though it’s evident most outside of her sorority house certainly feel she is.
Now, I will say I don’t like the setup of how Elle decides to go to law school – she’s doing it because she wants to remain with Mr. Douchebag who broke up with her because he needed to take life more seriously and didn’t view her as a serious person. But it doesn’t take very long to realize she’s going to be more than just Warner Huntington III’s trophy wife.
Elle Woods works hard. She has a goal and sets out to reach it. Through her hard work and using her particular set of knowledge and skills she succeeds. She’s also ridiculously nice and really that’s what you most want from someone, isn’t it? I think she’s a terrific role model for people, especially young girls/teens. For me, personally, that’s what “Legally Blonde” was – the story of a young woman who doesn’t give up, works hard and perseveres, even when those around her doubt her.