Perky ‘Legally Blonde 2’ is saccharin-sweet fun

Jennifer Leopoldt

“Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde” has the patriotic perk to pull it through Independence Day weekend and the bubbly charm to continue bringing in fans after the holiday. And though it fails at having a deep philosophical message, but most viewers probably won’t mind.

The sequel to 2001’s “Legally Blonde” finds Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) with a cushy job at a Boston law firm and a monstrous pink engagement ring. Work is a dream come true for Elle, who tells her loyal friends, “I had no idea I could be this happy without accruing credit card debt!”

But the happy bride-to-be runs into problems while planning her wedding to Emmett (Luke Wilson), her Harvard man from the last movie. While trying to locate the birth mother of her beloved chihuahua Bruiser — so the dog’s extended family can attend the ceremony — Elle learns about the not-so-pretty side of cosmetic companies. Elle’s personal crusade to free Bruiser’s mom sends her to Washington, D.C., where she’s determined to ban animal testing.

Much of what follows involves Elle running around in technicolor skirts and dangerously high heels or tooling around in her powder-blue coupe, blonde hair flying. And faithful Bruiser is always at her side, fashionably dressed for any occasion.

Moviegoers can’t fault Elle’s enthusiasm, but she seems a little too idealistic as she heads to the Capitol.

“I taught Bruiser how to shop online, I think I can handle Congress,” Elle assures her hair stylist friend Paulette (Jennifer Coolidge).

Set against a backbeat of sugary pop tunes and a backdrop of Washington’s national monuments, the second part of the movie tries to convince audiences that following your heart and remaining true to yourself will help you to succeed. The message gets a little lost amid gay-dog jokes and snarky political aides, but the message isn’t what carries the movie — Witherspoon does.

Her character is so inherently likeable that the audience wants to see her succeed. She brings her sorority style and her well-stocked wardrobe to Washington and refuses to back down. She forges a bond with the seemingly friendly Rep. Victoria Rudd (Sally Field) and works to have other lawmakers take her seriously. With the help of hotel doorman Sidney (Bob Newhart), she polishes up on her political knowledge and wins representatives to her side with pop-up bills, unconventional tactics and just plain charm.

As expected with this happily predictable plot, Elle’s spunky personality soon turns enemies into friends. As one aide tells Elle when the going gets rough: “You’ve come farther than any of us while maintaining your balance and sparkle. We never sparkle.”

So the plot is a little flat, and maybe the concept isn’t as fresh as the first movie, but “Legally Blonde 2” can rely on its sparkle to see it through. The movie is far from a dramatic masterpiece, but it’s great for some sweet escapist fun.

GRADE: A-