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Hit or Skip: Reese Witherspoon Movies

Reese Witherspoon is one of my all time favorite actresses. I think what makes her such a phenomenal actor is her ability to take on a wide range of characters––from a law student to a singing pig. While I think all of her films and TV series are worth watching, there are some you should prioritize over others. Even though we are living under isolation, sometimes it’s overwhelming to view every movie. Instead, follow this hit list and escape into a different world for a few hours.

Hit: ‘Legally Blonde’ (the first one)

Having virtual movie nights is one of several great hangout ideas to do with friends during quarantine. For the ideal movie night, I recommend watching the classic Legally Blonde. My personal Witherspoon favorite, Legally Blonde perhaps launched her career. The film follows a wealthy sorority sister, Elle Woods (Witherspoon) who applies to Harvard Law School in order to follow her ex-boyfriend and convince him she is more than a bikini-clad bombshell. The tables turn and Elle becomes the top lawyer, beating her former boyfriend on all counts. A motivational film to inspire college students, Legally Blonde is a rainy day film that will make you forget it’s pouring outside your window. Although the film may make you miss college, at least you can study up on law and propose a lawsuit against the coronavirus (if only!).

Skip: every ‘Legally Blonde’ that came after

While I am a super fangirl of the OG film, every film thereafter is a complete waste of time in my opinion. This includes Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde and Legally Blondes. If you have nothing better to do––a relatable sentiment––then by all means binge away, but I will warn you that the acting is not up to par with the original. However, fans have something to look forward to in a post-pandemic world: Legally Blonde 3! Witherspoon confirmed that a third movie was in the works in 2018, but the release date is TBD––especially given the current circumstances. 

Hit: (a) ‘Wild’ (night in front of the screen)

Remember when your mom, aunt, older sister, and dog were reading Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail? You shouldn’t be surprised to know that Witherspoon plays the protagonist in the big screen adaption of this New York Times Bestseller. The book and movie follow the true story of Cheryl Strayed’s solo journey traversing thousands of miles of the Pacific Crest Trail after the death of her mother and the crumbling of her marriage. Both versions are inspirational quarantine activities, a combination of dark scenes with sharp determination to bring you to the light at the end of the trail. ​

Skip: ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ (is not so sweet)

Remember when Freeform was ABC Family? During that wonderful era, Sweet Home Alabama was a classic romcom shown on Tuesday and Sunday nights when we were all desperate to watch literally anything. Although the film may be worth watching to stare at Patrick Demspey and Josh Lucas for almost two hours, we all know Witherspoon can do better. Not to mention, there are better romcoms out there to watch on a particularly low day in isolation.

Hit: ‘Sing’ (and don’t forget to sing along)

As I grow older, I become more and more critical of which animated films are worth watching. However, Sing pleasantly surprised me––this coming from a person who doesn’t particularly enjoy musicals. Witherspoon plays the voice of Rosita, a stay-at-home pig who auditions for a theatrical production along with a crew of other talented humanoid animals. The animation, songs, and cast of characters makes this animated movie 101% worth watching, and the perfect film to watch to turn that frown upside down. 

Skip: ‘Four Christmases’ (is too many)

I’ll admit that I can be picky about which holiday films I watch during the winter months. Holiday movies notoriously provide viewers with a sense of comfort and coziness when the outside remains cold and dark, so why waste time on the lowest of the low of these films? Some will disagree with me when I say that Four Christmases falls within this category. While Witherspoon plays a main character in the film, the poor acting and less than interesting plot––a couple trudging from one family get-together to another––make it the last film I reach for in December. I suggest bingeing the Harry Potter films if you want to feel cozy during these months, and leave Four Christmases for when you’re trying to escape dreadful family Zoom calls.

Hit: ‘Big Little Lies’ (I’m not lying!)

Over the years, Witherspoon has expanded her resume to include TV shows and book endorsements. Perhaps Witherspoon is more known for her role in HBO’s Big Little Lies, so I’ll throw it into the running. A TV adaptation from Liane Moriarty’s bestselling book, Witherspoon dominates the screen through her role as one of the lead mothers in the show. If you are looking for a binge-worthy series that includes everything from luxurious lifestyles to murder, Big Little Lies is the show for you. The phenomenal cast and acting is enough to grab the viewer’s attention, and the relevant themes pulsing through the show maintain our attention so that when we watch the last episode of season two, we’re begging for more.

From solo viewings to Netflix parties and Airtime, now is the time to distract ourselves with the wonderful acting of Reese Witherspoon and fall into a new reality for a few hours admiring her talent, beauty, and intelligence.

Elizabeth Berry

Conn Coll '21

Elizabeth Berry is an English and Italian Studies double major at Connecticut College with a passion for journalism. She enjoys overnight oats, traveling to new cities, and reading the night away.
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