In honor of The Other Woman and NPR’s schellacking of it… read here. I thought I would take some time to take a look at the best “chick flicks” of all time. But prior to the list let’s examine “Chick Flick” as a term:
-First, I understand that the term “chick flick” originates from a male-dominated hegemony, such that it’s a dismissive way of describing movies that females like. However, I use it here understanding its roots, re-branding it as a genre for lack of a better and more simplistic term. So, no disrespect from this guy in using the term. I’ve got too high of a regard for femininity to be that degrading to the movies that b****es like.
-Secondly, let’s define it. For purposes of this I will define it as a movie either made by women, with a female dominated cast, or one made for a majority female audience (either by design or accident). Thus a movie like Magic Mike would be a chick flick, but a movie like Tomb Raider would not, despite each having elements which could place it either inside or outside the genre.
Also before I start the list, I want to give my opinion of the genre…not a fan. In fact, I’m really not a fan of movies that can be boiled down to a formula in general. I want to draw a distinction, though, that I don’t hate these movies because I’m a man or because I don’t like women. In fact, because I like women I hate seeing what these terrible movies are doing to the minds of young women. I think Don Jon explores this concept well, but they are perhaps the most destructive force to meaningful human relationships known to man. To me, these movies insult women, pandering to them and insulting their intelligence. Check out my top 10 over/underhyped movies here, I’m no hypocrite as I hold testosterone-fests to the same standard.
Usually in “chick flicks”, the main character is a vapid woman espousing no principles who falls down, because geez, high-heels are tough…and oh my gosh—that’s spinach in her teeth BUT SHE’S TALKING TO A GUY. Isn’t she cute? Sometimes (but usually not) this woman has beat all odds and become a power attorney or doctor, with a skill set and strength of character never displayed on film. But she’s always missing that one thing…a guy. She’s white or black, but never any other races. She’s pretty but not too pretty, big boobs categorically mean she’s not virtuous. Then eventually, without any effort on her part she usually attracts two PERFECT MEN who are handsome, successful, and willing to put up with ALL of her bulls*** no matter how ridiculous. They fight over her and she picks the one who truly loves her essence the most…I guess because he has an Oedipus complex and his mom fell down a lot and had spinach in her teeth.
The message these movies send to girls made me spend my teens and early twenties wishing I was gay so I had a loophole out of dealing with the ramifications. As a woman, your beauty and not your character was your only true asset, and the responsibility of a happy relationship fell upon one of two men fighting over you like a prize. I’m sure women have the equal and opposite frustrations of men who grew up in the era of easy access to porn who thought that showing up with a pizza with “extra sausage” and a half-smirk should be all the charm it takes to round the bases. Were you ever invited to someone’s dorm room to “check out their fish tank”…without even the thinly veiled promise of a massage? That’s porn’s fault.
But still, I do think the format has some diamonds in the rough. So the list…
12. Frozen – This movie is pretty hyped up so the hipster side of me shudders at putting a movie this popular on any list. But this movie is good. And yes, while it can fit into other genres (animation, children’s) it’s certainly a chick flick–it contains not one but two princesses and a show tune soundtrack. I like this movie because while the main character technically has two love interests, neither is the perfect man, and ultimately the story-line is about sisterly love rather than sacrificing everything you are to snag that man. If you’re mad about that spoiler…shut up. You’ve had plenty of chances to watch the movie. Really my only qualm is that Disney reverted to the giant eyed, dainty-framed, female form with weird (and subconsciously harmful to girls) ratios. It’s basically like someone said to the cartoonist: “Hey, bro…can you draw me a sexy infant.”
11. Bridget Jones’ Diary – Now this one is certainly a Chick Flick. And I bet you’re surprised it made the cut. Well, I ultimately thought it was pretty good. Not at first, though, because it followed the formula: sad, hapless girl, with few redeeming qualities, yadda yadda yadda. But ultimately, that’s kind of the point of the movie. It’s not about some amazing man that needs to change somehow in order to suit a woman’s mediocrity, but a woman who needs to grow up and has to be accountable for her own love life. I also like that the boring guy ends up being the winner. Because you’ve had the conversation with a sobbing lady-friend: “why can’t I find a good man?” Then she ends up dating someone in MY circle of friends…again (huge mistake). While there’s plenty of good men out there—some of them happen to be boring.
10. Bridesmaids – This movie was hilarious. I’ve heard some people call it a “chick flick with boy humor”, but I think it’s just a genuinely funny chick flick and don’t see what HAS to be boy-humor in order for it to be funny. Girls have sex and get diarrhea too, and both are hilarious. Like Bridget Jones, Kristen Wiig starts off a mess and again, the onus is on her to improve herself as a person and friend, not be saved by some man. It features Melissa McCarthy at her best along with great performances from the entire cast in a movie that works well.
9. The Notebook – I felt like I HAD to throw this one on here, because it’s a well-made movie for the genre. It’s the type of movie many of the crappy ones are trying to be. The acting and writing are solid enough for this old-timey love story. But I refuse to put it higher than 9…because while it’s a love story told well, there’s really nothing here that hasn’t been done in another movie somewhere along the way. Maybe the actor wasn’t as handsome as Ryan Gosling, but you’ve seen it before: poor-guy-courts classy-girl-really-hard…she resists and they eventually have a timeless love—not groundbreaking. Additionally, this is one of those movies that poisons men’s minds as much as women’s. First, there’s the fantasy of Ryan Gossling chasing you until you relent. Let’s take the scene with the Ferris wheel where he hangs off of it with one hand until she goes on a date with him. If someone does that to a woman, and she agrees, she WILL spend the rest of her life with that man…it will just be a very short life that ends in the trunk of a rental car. So ladies…let’s imagine that instead of Ryan Gossling, he was replaced by the last guy that hit on you (maybe on a bus, train, work, wherever), yeah…replay the scenes. Not so cute, huh? But there’s a contingency of men who watch this movie, and say…all I have to do is try harder. This is the concept that births creepy guys that don’t “get the hint”. Yup, it’s mostly The Notebook’s fault. Other than that it’s a good movie and a chick flick classic.
(Side note: I accidentally clicked a movie online starring Facial McAdams called The Scrotebook…That is a different movie and I don’t recommend that one)
8. Mean Girls – In retrospect, The feat of keeping Lindsey Lohan sober enough to film this should go down as one of the finest cinematic feats in history. But that aside Mean Girls was excellent, and I think ushered in a few of the other comedies on this list. It’s a high school girlie movie, which didn’t let the genre dictate an inability to include some solid bits that work. Tina Fey has consistently put out some of the funniest material over the last decade or so, gender-irrelevant, and this movie marked her foray to the silver screen. Now Admission sucked, and Date Night was just average…but she didn’t write those, so I liken it to Kanye rapping over a beat he didn’t make.
7. The Best Man – If you think I dislike Chick Flicks as a genre, lawd, don’t get me started on Black Chick flicks. Now I will throw out a nod to Love Jones, Love & Basketball, and a few others. I’ll even throw some love to Just Wright, although Common (one of my favs lyrically) has all of the emotional range of a CPR practice dummy. But I think The Best Man takes the cake as one with a good blend of jokes and story, and Taye Diggs’ subtler style kept the rest of the cast from doing that Black overacting sh*t we always seem to do in movies.
6.The Descent – Yup, this one for sure counts. There are virtually no men in the film unless you count the creatures, and the #1 demographic of horror movies is females under 35 years old. Plus the working title of the movie was “chicks with picks”…I didn’t make this up. It also has female leaning themes like the Romance between monster-teeth and lady-flesh. Hopefully I don’t ruin the ending by telling you they come together in the end. Overall, this is a movie with a simple story, sprinkled with some backstory, and told well without many frills or gimmicks. After watching this movie I also determined that anthropomorphic monsters are the scariest.
5. Romeo and Juliet – You knew a Leo movie had to make the list, but you probably expected that one where the boat sank. But all I need to discredit that movie is this image , plus Romeo & Juliet is way better. First, let me tell you, if you’re teaching Shakespeare in the South Bronx (like me circa 2007)…throwing this movie on is a decent reprieve after struggling through that play for 4 weeks understanding why some people throw themselves in front of the 6 train. This was also Baz Luhrman’s coming out party, and while Moulin Rouge was perhaps a little more polished a movie, this one was ambitious and worked for Shakespeare lovers and 8th graders alike.
4. Notting Hill – “I’m just a girl standing in front of a boy”…yeah I quoted it. That’s a tender motherf***ing moment…I’m a man, but I feel. This one features Hugh Grant at his best, and even though he likes to pick up black hookers no matter how hot his wife is–you got to give the limey dude credit…he is charming as hell. Julia Roberts puts up her usual solid showing and the crazy roommate adds hilarity while Julia and Hugh keep it up with the wit. That’s an entertaining movie, formulaic or not. Plus, I like again that Julia Roberts has to take some agency in her actions as a participant in the relationship. She’s the one that has to woo him after doing him so dirty. I keep pointing this out not to say that men aren’t flawed and often responsible for issues in a relationship, but it’s nice to mix it up. Plus when a man messes up real early in the relationship such that he has to apologize to get you back…he’s going to keep making that same mistake for the rest of the relationship. When a woman f***ks up an apologizes there’s actually some chance that behavior stops.
3. Set It Off – F**k you, I’m counting it. It’s a very flawed movie, don’t get me wrong, but this is Queen Latifah way before Chicago and other movies made her a genuine box office draw. And back then, we saw that the woman could act. This movie was refreshing and did a good job not letting the gimmick take over what it was trying to do as a story. The movie ranks this high on the list partially due to nostalgia. It takes me back to a day when it wasn’t a lock that Will Smith would be such a bigger star than Jada. Also, it was a time when you a black woman might realistically think there’d be more money in robbing a bank than leaking audio of a billionaire being racist on TMZ.
2. Pitch Perfect – This is a chick flick I’ve seen a handful of times now and was pleasantly surprised when I chose to watch it. It’s a group of women, competing in an A Capella contest with a mixture of story line and pop music performance. From that description it should have been about as entertaining to me as watching paint dry, but no…thoroughly funny and I got into the corny singing and dancing a bit too. Now Anna Kendrick’s love interest does put up with a lot of BS, but he sings A Capella so it’s kind of believable that he’d find himself whipped up like that. Plus the movie is more about the girls coming together. And again, just because the girl projectile vomits, doesn’t mean one should dismiss the funniness as “boy humor”
1. The Graduate – This is one of the greatest movies of all time, and ultimately it’s a romance comedy. This being said, more than any film on this list, I’d accept and probably resign that it’s not a “chick flick”, as it predates the genre. Still, when I think of romantic comedies this will always be my favorite. It’s the typical story, boy meets girl, girl is actually 20 years older than him and married to one of his dads friends. I first watched this in high school and thought…you know what…that makes me look at how I’ve been having affairs with my dad’s friends’ wives in a completely new light. Maybe I should rethink this. Without this movie I might not be such a happily married man. Real talk. Because the moral of the story is if you’re thinking of having a torrid affair with a family friend’s wife whose 20 years older than you…don’t. Well, if you watch the whole movie it’s not really “don’t” it’s more that you shouldn’t expect everything to go smoothly. And that’s a depiction of genuine love.
In conclusion, that is my blog about Chick Flicks.