People have been bending and snapping ever since the 2001 movie “Legally Blonde,” but the origin of the incredible (and effective) pickup move is not well known.
For the unfamiliar, the “bend and snap” was introduced to the general populace when Elle Woods (played by Reese Witherspoon) teaches her manicurist Paulette (played by Jennifer Coolidge) how to do it. Paulette is desperate to woo the UPS guy who frequently stops by her salon, and Elle assures her that if she uses the bend and snap, it has an “83-percent return on a dinner invitation.”
Ultimately, Elle leads a bend-and-snap bonanza that has women all over the salon getting involved. One hairstylist emerges from the back to say, “Oh my God, bend and snap works every time!” as if to prove the move’s ubiquitousness.
All of this, obviously, raises the question: How did this deliciously campy moment come to life?
“Legally Blonde” co-writer Karen McCullah told Entertainment Weekly: Producer Marc Platt “wanted a B plot for Paulette (Jennifer Coolidge). At first we were like, ‘Should the store be robbed?’”
Co-writer Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith told the publication they “spent a week or two trying to figure out what the B plot and this big set piece should be. There were crime plots. We were pitching scene after scene and it all felt very tonally weird.”
Huh. Another crime subplot in the film probably would have been too busy. “Legally Blonde” already had one ammonium thioglycolate crisis.
Apparently, the ah-ha moment came to McCullah as she sat at a bar in Los Angeles.
“What if Elle shows [Paulette] a move so she can get the UPS guy?” McCullah asked Smith, who then drunkenly began demonstrating a move that ultimately became the bend and snap.
“It was a spontaneous invention. It was a completely drunken moment in a bar,” said Smith.
Despite the story of the bend and snap’s origin, director Robert Luketic gets the credit for making it the film’s big, silly musical number, Smith and McCullah told Entertainment Weekly.
It seems only fitting that the scene was born of alcohol ― it’s quirky, fun, and delightfully saucy in a way that bar nights can get.
We’ll just be over here practicing our bend and snap.