As patronizing as they can be, chick lit, chick flicks, and women’s films can be really good movies. Love, friendship, and emotion are what characterize these genres. If only it were socially acceptable for men to indulge in these themes, maybe we could just call them “films.” 

But, I digress. In class, we talked about how very few chick flicks (which nowadays are also known as romantic comedies) overlap with women’s films. However, one of my top ten favorite movies is a chick flick and I strongly believe that it also falls into the category of a women’s film. 

On the surface, and definitely the cover of the DVD case, Legally Blonde looks like a ditzy chick flick. A blonde girl, Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) from Beverly Hills gets dumped by the man of her dreams, Warner Huntington III, and formulates a plan to get into Harvard Law School in order to get him back. So what if Elle has big blonde hair, wears too much pink, and has a chihuahua? 

Elle Woods is a joke to a lot of people, including her own parents. She manages to get into Harvard and soon realizes law school is hard and getting Warner back is also going to be hard. 

Elle becomes determined to do this law school thing. Not for her parents, not for Warner, but for herself.

Elle gets serious. She hits the books, makes good grades, and gets to intern at a top law firm, along with Warner and his new fiancee. 

Elle uses her girly-ness to her advantage in the case they work at the law firm. She gains the client’s trust and gets the alibi, which is a feat no one else could have accomplished. Furthermore, she promised the client she wouldn’t tell anyone her alibi, and she keeps true to her word. Elle also helped win the trial by providing some important knowledge about hair care.

Another thing Elle gains during her internship is attention. She gains attention from Warner (he wants her back), her sleazy professor (who tries to convince her to sleep her way to the top, which she refuses),Warner’s fiancee Vivian (who wants to be her friend), and from a guy named Emmett (who Elle eventually marries at the end of Legally Blonde 2).

When Warner approaches Elle and tries to take her back, she realizes that after all this time not being good enough for him, it was really Warner who wasn’t good enough for her. 

Elle is extremely empowering. She shows women that they can do anything they want (like become a lawyer, a predominantly male field) and that it doesn’t matter if you’re not good enough for someone, as long as you’re good enough for yourself. Elle also teaches that you must stay true to who you are; use your individuality and quirks to your advantage and don’t change for anyone. 

Legally Blonde is clearly a film that classifies as a chick flick and as a women’s film. At first it depicts a ditzy, superficial sorority girl, who, throughout the film, becomes self-empowered and learns to be true to herself. 


7 thoughts on “

  1. Woah, the awkward moment when I wrote about something similar and I just saw this post. Woops, but I’m still glad to see it, because there is an important point to this post. It’s one of those films that needs to have deeper analysis and can be appreciated for something more than just the general “chick flick” concept that is like you said kind of an insulting label. These films can be disregarded and considered to be unmeaningful, but you give more depth into what these kinds of films can bring to the table.

  2. I totally agree but for a brief moment of censure While I have seen both movies several times because Elle Woods totally rocks, please refrain from telling the end of the story. Half the fun is the question of her romantic future. That being said. This is the perfect movie to reflect your point about chick flicks and so called women’s films. When this movie came out, my sister, the lawyer, refused to watch it based on the advertising. She assumed it was an air head chick flick comedy that was demeaning to women and lawyers. If only I could get her to watch it she’s see it’s the total opposite of that.

  3. I just commented on a blog similar to this. As I stated, I love this movie and I agree with you that it has the chick flick status bonding with the women’s film, and there is nothing wrong with that. Loved the images and your breakdown of Elle’s success to compare to the women’s film, but also hold the values and fun of a chick flick.

  4. I also love this film, especially the fact that it empowers a blonde woman. I wonder if this isn’t actually very close to a “woman’s film”? Although she does keep her empowered feeling and position at the end of the movie, it is also heavily implied that she gets the man (a good-looking, educated, kind man). This is a typical happy ending for a woman’s film. On the other hand, there are a lot of differences between the two types (such as the fact that Vivian is portrayed as the “bad” woman at the beginning but becomes Elle’s friend). It’s definitely a different take.

      • Of course not.There are two possibilities: 1) they know nothing of Legally Blonde and other “chick flicks” because of the reasons I mentioned at the beginning of my post or 2) they are afraid of a feminist backlash. Mwahahah!

    • Just because the girl gets the boy in the end does not mean she is any less strong/powerful. Also, Elle wasn’t even looking for Emmett. (And Emmett is nearly the opposite of Warner who is the “typical male movie stud”)

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