Legally Blonde was my favorite movie for six months in 2001, which was a prestigious honor in the 60-square-foot kingdom of my bedroom. I loved Elle Woods. Sure, she’s not the unlikeliest of heroes, but her character threw a much-needed wrench into the world order so consistently purveyed by the quintessential ’90s rom-com. You know, the one where pretty girls are popular and evil and smart girls are nerdy and pathetic with little room for in-betweens.
Elle was different. She was a boy-crazy sorority girl who loved pink and dresses but also was kind and smart and earnest. Her character wouldn’t be groundbreaking today (in fact, it might be a little reductive) but it felt special 15 years ago. Oh yeah: Legally Blonde is 15 years old as of today. Sorry to make you feel old. I re-watched it last night in commemoration, the impetus being both nostalgic and investigative. Why did I like it so much? Would it stand the test of time?
Conclusion: it’s overtly platitudinal, incredibly saccharine, riddled with stereotypes and a little too on the nose. BUT! It’s kind of still a great movie. I’d even designate it a vaguely feminist pop cultural mainstay. Here’s what it taught me when I was 12.
Don’t make assumptions about sorority girls.
Maybe they say “like” a lot and also speak Vietnamese. Maybe they’d make better lawyers than a Vanderbilt. Maybe they know it’s impossible to use a half-loop stitch on low-viscosity rayon.
True friends support each other’s endeavors, even if they don’t understand them.
Even if they wish you would just come party with them because, “Ew, Harvard,” they’ll still come to your court room and dramatically respond on your behalf via facial expressions.
The path to happiness is by way of ruthless optimism.
So what if the person you love doesn’t love you back? You’ll figure it out. Also, only psychopaths don’t pass their last names on to their pets.
Embarrassment is for suckers.
Fearlessly be yourself.
If you like fluffy pink pens and heart-shaped notebooks then you should use them regardless of context because nothing is more depressing than trying to be someone you’re not. Bonus points if the notebook looks like a butt.
Don’t underestimate your raw intellect.
We’re all just one study montage away from passing law school.
Don’t get me started on montages and how I want to live in one.
Secrets are sacred.
Never betray your girlfriend’s trust even if it will get her out of prison for the rest of her life. Warning: maybe don’t try this one at home?
Rose-colored glasses are not just metaphorical.
I have faith in you, Elle.
Feature photograph by Tracy Bennett/MGM Pictures via Getty Images.