Picture from Legally Blonde 2: Red, White And Blonde
Overall B

Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) convinced us in the first Legally Blonde that she's more than just pink and perky. This time she extends her effervescent persona into the political realm.

Violence A
Sexual Content B
Profanity B
Substance Use A

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sex-related humor.

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White And Blonde

Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) convinced us in the first Legally Blonde that she's more than just pink and perky. This time she extends her effervescent persona into the political realm in an upbeat ode to classic American movies like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, with the final results far more family friendly.

The Harvard law school graduate is enjoying life at a prestigious legal firm and she's got a man ready to walk down the aisle. And yes, it's Emmett (Luke Wilson), Elle's university beau from the previous film. But just when all seems perfect, Elle discovers a major oversight on her invitation list -- the mother of her dog, Bruiser. Tracking down the American-Chihuahua's lineage, Elle's even more aghast to discover her beloved canine's mother is jailed in a cosmetics testing lab.

Determined to not only free Bruiser's mom, but all of the nation's animals used for laboratory research, Elle puts her life on hold and heads for the Capitol. There she finds a friend in Congresswoman Victoria Rudd (Sally Field). While she is not quite as zealous about animal rights, she at least offers Elle her political support along with the help of her staff. But Rudd's hardnosed employees, especially senior assistant Grace (Regina King), view the new vivacious member of their office, who comes complete with her purse-sized doggie and pink desk dressings, with cynicism and disbelief.

Labeled with the moniker "Capitol Barbie," Elle finds new hope from the most unlikely character -- her doorman Sid (superbly played by the most unlikely of actors, Bob Newhart). After decades of brushing shoulders with the Washington crowd, Sid opens a very different door for Elle by filling her in on who's who on the Hill. Even better, Sid is a dog-lover and well aware of other influential canine aficionados in DC. With this knowledge and little Bruiser tucked under her arm, Elle's renewed vigor is set to convince America's politicians to put aside their apathetic attitudes toward animals.

If the first Legally Blonde wasn't quite comfortable for family viewing, it at least allowed Reese Witherspoon to explore the challenge of confronting one of the most stereotyped characters in our society: the dumb blonde. While many other movies have failed at presenting naive characters that suddenly spout statements of intellectual sophistication, both of these movies have used Elle's supreme knowledge of beauty products to create a believable reason for our protagonist's brilliance.

Surprisingly, this patriotic feel-good summer release offers families much to celebrate. Elle's never failing determination is a great example to never give up on our dreams. Bob Newhart's character and Elle's somewhat unsophisticated friends remind us that it's often the "insignificant" people in our lives who can become our greatest resources. Finally, other characters in this movie must make difficult ethical decisions between party loyalty and promotions, or doing what they know is right.

Most movies set in the political arena have an agenda of some sort, and this sequel has at least two. The most obvious statement is the one championing animal rights -- and yes, it is legal in the US to use animals for cosmetics testing. The other is promoting the idea of natural homosexuality by depicting Bruiser the dog as gay. (This characterization also motivates a moment of sexually descriptive dialogue from a veterinarian's assistant.)

Otherwise, this violence and nearly profanity-free movie may make Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, & Blonde the best "non-family" family movie of the summer.