Legally Blonde is a 2001 American comedy film directed by Robert Luketic, written by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, and produced by Marc E. Platt. It stars Reese Witherspoon as a bubbly, outgoing sorority girl who struggles to win back her ex-boyfriend by proving that she is "serious" enough to earn a law degree, along with Luke Wilson as a young attorney she meets during her studies, Matthew Davis as the ex-boyfriend, and Selma Blair as his new fiancée. The screenplay is based on the novel of the same name by Amanda Brown. Lutz based the film's sorority culture on her own experiences at James Madison University. The film was released on July 13, 2001 and received generally positive reviews. It was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture: Musical or Comedy and ranks 29th on Bravo's 2007 list of "100 Funniest Movies". For her performance, Witherspoon was nominated for Best Actress Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the 2002 MTV Movie Award for Best Female Performance. The film's box-office success led to a 2003 sequel, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, and a 2009 direct-to-DVD spin-off, Legally Blondes. Additionally, Legally Blonde: The Musical premiered on January 23, 2007, in San Francisco and opened in New York City at the Palace Theatre on Broadway on April 29, 2007, starring Laura Bell Bundy. The musical has since closed on Broadway, but opened to very good reviews and box office in London's West End.
In her senior year as a Southern California college student, girlish sorority president Elle Woods (Witherspoon) majors in fashion merchandising and is seriously in love with her boyfriend, Warner Huntington III (Davis), who will attend Harvard Law School next year. She excitedly expects him to ask her to marry him, but instead he breaks up with her, saying he needs a more "serious" girlfriend for his legal and political career. Desperate to win Warner back, Elle studies for and passes the law-school entrance exam, applies to Harvard, and is accepted. At Harvard, her fellow students look down on her and Warner is engaged to another student, Vivian Kensington (Blair). The only friend Elle makes is Paulette (Coolidge), her divorced manicurist. When Vivian tricks Elle into attending a party in a Playboy Bunny costume, Elle has a discussion with Warner and finally realizes he will never respect her. Now determined to succeed on her own, Elle studies hard and wins an internship with Professor Callahan (Garber), as do Warner and Vivian. They will work with Callahan and an associate, attorney Emmett Richmond (Wilson), to defend Brooke Taylor-Wyndham (Larter), a famous fitness instructor accused of murdering her billionaire husband, Hayworth Wyndham. Brooke was once Elle's fitness instructor and a member of her sorority. Elle believes Brooke is innocent, but Brooke's stepdaughter, Chutney (Cardellini), and the household "cabana boy", Enrique (Serano), claim that they saw Brooke standing over Wyndham's dead body, covered in his blood. Brooke refuses to provide an alibi, but when Elle visits her in prison, she admits that she had liposuction on the day of the murder. Public knowledge of this would ruin Brooke's reputation as a fitness instructor, so Elle agrees to keep it secret and refuses to tell Callahan about it. Impressed by her integrity, Vivian starts to befriend Elle. The case against Brooke begins to weaken when Enrique correctly identifies Elle's shoe style. Elle deduces that he is gay, and Emmett tricks him into identifying his boyfriend in court, proving that his testimony about having an affair with Brooke was a lie. Impressed by her performance, Callahan discusses Elle's future with her, but he makes sexual advances on her, which she rejects. Vivian lashes out at Elle after seeing Callahan's attempt but not Elle's rejection, convincing Elle that she will never be taken seriously. Elle decides to quit law school, but a female teacher, Professor Stromwell (Taylor), encourages her to continue. Emmett explains Elle's encounter with Callahan to Vivian and Brooke, and Brooke fires Callahan, hiring Elle as her new attorney with Emmett supervising. In cross-examination, Chutney claims to have been taking a shower and washing her hair at the time of the murder, with the noise drowning out the gunshot, but she also says she had her hair permed earlier that day. When Elle points out that washing her hair shortly after the perm would have ruined Chutney's curls, which are still intact, Chutney finally admits to accidentally shooting Hayworth because she thought he was Brooke, whom she hated for marrying him at such a young age. Brooke is exonerated and Chutney is arrested. After the trial, Warner tries to reconcile with Elle, but she rejects him, explaining that she needs a boyfriend who is less of a "bonehead" in her new career. In the epilogue, Elle has graduated with high honors, is the class-elected speaker at the ceremony, and has been invited into one of Boston's best law firms; Vivian is now Elle's best friend and has called off her engagement with Warner, who graduated without honors and with no job offers; Emmett has started his own practice, is now Elle's boyfriend, and will propose to her that night; and finally, Paulette has married her delivery man and is expecting a baby girl to be named after Elle.