Legally Blonde: Special Edition (2001)

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Released 25-Mar-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-R Luketic (Dir), R Witherspoon (Act), M Platt (Prod)
Audio Commentary-S de Rakoff Carbonell (Cost), M Stewart (Prod Des), et al
Informational Subtitles-Trivia Track
Deleted Scenes-8 + intro
Featurette-Inside Legally Blonde
Featurette-The Hair That Ate Hollywood
Music Video-Perfect Day-Hoku
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 92:02 (Case: 96)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (62:50) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Robert Luketic
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Reese Witherspoon
Luke Wilson
Selma Blair
Matthew Davis
Victor Garber
Jennifer Coolidge
Holland Taylor
Ali Larter
Raquel Welch
Case DV-4
RPI $36.95 Music Rolfe Kent


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Information
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Apple i-book
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I thought this would be a fairly easy film to review - it's a lightweight comedy, right? The kind that gets maybe a trailer, maybe a making-of, but nothing special, right? Wrong. This movie has been accorded a substantial package of extras, including two commentaries and a trivia track, meaning that a full review requires viewing the movie at least four times... I gritted my teeth - watch a lightweight American comedy four times in rapid succession? Maybe this was a mistake. Wrong again - this is rather more than I expected. For a start, it is written by the same team as Ten Things I Hate About You - one of my favourite movies of recent times. It is produced by the producer of Josie and the Pussycats - another recent movie I enjoyed. It stars Reese Witherspoon, who is capable of taking the clever script and exploiting its every nuance. And she is surrounded by an impressive cast, even in the smaller parts, including, for example, Holland Taylor (you may not recognise the name, but you'll recognise her face: she plays the law professor Stromwell - you'll notice her).

    Reese Witherspoon plays Elle Woods. Elle is the perfect California sorority girl - it is all she's wanted to be, and she is very good at it. She has just completed college, majoring in fashion merchandising. Her biggest ambition is to marry her boyfriend, Warner Huntington III (played with superb shallowness by Matthew Davis). Her perfect life comes off the rails when he abruptly dumps her and heads off to Harvard to study law, with the intention of becoming a senator. She is struck by inspiration - he is dumping her because she isn't serious enough, so she'll prove herself serious - she'll go to Harvard and study law, too. As you might expect, things don't go quite according to her plans.

    There are some real gems of moments in this movie - I'll not point them out, because you'll enjoy them more as they come up.

    Something I admire about these writers is that they don't rely on coincidence as much as seems the norm for American comedy. There are reasons why things happen, and that makes the plot more acceptable. They write excellent dialogue, too - language that is interesting to hear, and moments of wry humour tucked into little corners where you'd not expect it. One such script might have been a fluke, especially when they were working with such excellent raw material (the Bard has to rate as some of the best raw material available), but two is no fluke - I'm going to be watching out for their next effort.

    Elle is far from a one-dimensional character, and it is quite delightful watching her discover more about herself. In one of the featurettes, Reese Witherspoon describes this as a "girl-power" film. There's more to it than that: Elle goes through a metamorphosis from shallow sorority girl to, well, you'll see... At the same time, she remains true to those traits that made her endearing in the first place. Very cool.

    Reese Witherspoon deserves a lot of credit for the success of this film, but she didn't do it alone. This is the first feature-length film directed by Robert Luketic (another addition to the pool of Australian talent working in Hollywood), but you wouldn't guess it - he's done an excellent job. The costume designer (Sophie de Rakoff Carbonell) worked amazingly hard - she came up with at least 40 different outfits for Elle, and the hair-styling team worked even harder - Elle has a different hair style for every outfit. I am not kidding - there is an entire featurette on the subject of the hair-styles.

    There are some outstanding efforts from the supporting actors that I haven't mentioned yet: Ali Larter doesn't get a lot of time as the young wife on trial for murder, but she gives a good performance, and Jennifer Coolidge is marvellous as Paulette (unhappy manicurist). But it is Selma Blair as Vivian, the society preppy, who comes closest to matching Reese Witherspoon's efforts.

    It wasn't painful to watch this film repeatedly - I enjoyed it. If you liked Ten Things I Hate About You, then there's a good chance you'll like it too.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is limpidly clear. It is quite sharp, and displays superb shadow detail. There is no trace of low-level noise.

    Colour is rendered brilliantly. More than once, the commentaries mention the deliberate choices of palette for each act of the film. The California scenes are rendered in vivid tropical colours which could threaten over-saturation and colour bleed, but they are controlled well, leaving us to enjoy fully-saturated colour. The scenes set in Boston are painted in a more earthy palette - it is not fair to describe it as dull, for some of these colours are just as rich, but they are certainly no threat to the phosphors in your display.

    There is a little bit of aliasing, and some light moire (worst on the blinds on the window at 57:56, and that worst is quite slight) - but I never found it troubling. I found no film artefacts the first three times through the film, but I finally spotted a tiny artefact at 34:03 - there's a faint white mark bottom right - you have to be looking hard on a large display to spot it. There are no MPEG artefacts.

    There are three sets of subtitles. We have English subtitles, and English captions (subtitles for the hearing impaired) - both sets are clear, easy to read, well-timed, and almost perfectly accurate. Plus, we get something special - a Trivia Track. This appears as boxes which pop up (mostly near the bottom of the frame), containing some piece of trivia; some are screen-specific, but many are general.

    The disc is single-sided and RSDL-formatted. The layer change comes at 62:50. It is unfortunately fairly obvious, because a speaking character freezes quite visibly. Had it been placed less than a second later it could have been invisible, because there's a scene change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three soundtracks, all of them in English. The first is the movie soundtrack in Dolby Digital 5.1. The other two are the commentaries.

    Dialogue is easy to hear and comprehend. Audio sync is excellent almost all the way through; the big exception is pointed out in the commentary track - they chose to move some dialogue out of a deleted scene, and placed it over already filmed footage. You might not notice - the actor's mouths are quite small at the time.

    The score is credited to Rolfe Kent. There is a substantial amount of contemporary music; some of it songs that were recorded for this film.

    The surrounds provide some depth to the soundtrack, but there is no real opportunity for them to demonstrate directional sound. There are no large explosions (heck, there aren't even any small explosions), and the bass content of the music is directed to the main speakers, so the subwoofer gets pretty much nothing to do..

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are lots of extras on this disc - quite impressive

Menu

    The menu is animated with music. The ends of the clip do not match up, so the sound jumps each time it loops.

Commentary - Director, Producer, and Lead Actor

    An average quality commentary from three of the main culprits behind this film: director Robert Luketic, producer Marc Platt, and Reese Witherspoon. It is poorly organised, but it still manages to convey some interesting snippets.

Commentary - Crew

    This is an interesting style of commentary. It starts with about eleven minutes from Tony Richmond (director of photography) - he provides a lot of highly technical information about the filming. He hands off to Melissa Stewart, the production designer, who talk for about eight minutes, then is joined by Sophie de Rakoff Carbonell, the costume designer. These two talk for quite a while, then the animal trainer (Sue Chipperton) joins in for a brief period. At around 49:50 they all leave, and the writers take over for the remainder of the commentary. This is more interesting than the other commentary, and I recommend it if you only feel like indulging in one.

Trivia Track

    Pop-up boxes containing trivia appear on-screen - fun.

Deleted Scenes (8:43)

    These start with a brief (0:32) intro from the director. In all, eight deleted scenes are provided, and they can be viewed individually, or you can press Play All. Presented without 16x9 enhancement.

Featurette - Inside Legally Blonde (21:36)

    This is not a standard Making Of. It starts rather differently from most, and is more interesting. I recommend you have a look at this. Presented without 16x9 enhancement.

Featurette - The Hair That Ate Hollywood (8:59)

    This is that featurette I mentioned earlier - an entire featurette devoted to the hair styling in this movie. More interesting than it sounds, though. Presented without 16x9 enhancement.

Music Video - Perfect Day (3:47)

    This is a music video, using footage from the movie combined with footage of the performer (Hoku). Run-of-the-mill stuff. Presented without 16x9 enhancement.

Trailer (2:15)

    The theatrical trailer in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 disc is missing:

    The Region 1 disc is missing:

    The R1 disc is interesting - it is a DVD-14, which means that it is double-sided, with a dual-layer side (holds movie in both wide-screen and full-screen) and a single layer side (all the extras that are not part of the movie). This means that the disc is harder to handle, and possibly more fragile. There is no layer change on the R1 because the two versions of the movie are stored on different layers - the widescreen version is on layer 0, the full-screen version is on layer 1. It has the same extras as the R4, plus one extra trailer. The video transfer is not quite as good as the R4 - there's less shadow detail.

    Unless you need the full-screen version, I'd recommend going with the R4 version - it is simply easier to handle, and has a marginally better transfer.

Summary

    Legally Blonde is an enjoyable movie, presented superbly on DVD.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is quite good.

    The extras are comprehensive.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Saturday, March 09, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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