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Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde: Special Edition

If the first Legally Blonde movie was the cinematic equivalent of cotton candy, then Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003) is a Hostess Snowball — just as pink, just as sweet, but somehow a whole lot less exciting. Reese Witherspoon reprises her role as Elle Woods, the shopaholic sorority sweetheart who breezed her way through Harvard Law School in the original film. This time around, Elle — now a full-fledged attorney and happily engaged to beau Emmett (Luke Wilson) — is horrified to discover that a cosmetic company represented by her firm is testing its products on animals (including her own pet Chihuahua's mother). What else can earnest Elle do but pack up her perfectly matched wardrobe and head for Washington? But after she takes a job with well-coifed Congresswoman Victoria Rudd (Sally Field), Elle quickly finds out that there's a lot more to politics than fighting for a good cause — and that, just like at Harvard, most people aren't prepared to take her seriously. Luckily for her, Elle finds an ally in canny doorman Sid (Bob Newhart), who helps her learn to navigate the capital's back rooms (and beauty parlors) like a pro. Soon she's wheeling and dealing with the best of them, all while handing out fashion tips and using her sunny nature to re-inspire the jaded politicos working alongside her, including Rudd's top aide, Grace (Regina King ). If only the movie could do the same thing for its audience. Legally Blonde 2 is entertaining enough, especially in the last third or so (even when things really go over the top), but it doesn't really offer anything new. Elle is the same couture-clad optimist she was in the first film — only now her permanent perkiness is starting to get a little creepy. (No one is that happy all the time.) Her venue may have changed from Harvard Law to Capitol Hill, but her challenges — fighting the system while working hard to make people respect her — are pretty much the same. And while Newhart is refreshingly droll as Sid, he's not enough to save the movie from becoming more or less a retread of its predecessor. Even supporting turns by Legally Blonde veterans Jennifer Coolidge, Jessica Cauffiel, and Alanna Ubach just feel like more of the same old stuff. We can only hope that since Elle's now fought and won twice, she'll rest on her (pink) laurels for awhile. MGM's special edition DVD offers enough goodies to keep her busy for awhile: Extras include an audio commentary by Coolidge, Cauffiel, and Ubach, a 22-minute "making-of" featurette, seven deleted scenes, a gag reel, a LeAnn Rimes music video, an interactive trivia quiz, trailers, and behind-the-scenes photos. The anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) is clean and clear, and the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is sharp. Other language options include Spanish and French 2.0 surround tracks and English, Spanish, and French subtitles. Keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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