19 Chick Flicks That Don’t Suck
As a rule, chick flicks are horrible, horrible things. Every time I see Matthew McConaughey or Sandra Bullock on a movie poster, I start freaking out because I know it’s going to be painfully unfunny and miserable. However, sometimes — just sometimes — you’ll see a chick flick which isn’t so bad that it causes physical injury. Maybe it’s incredibly sharp writing, great characterization, amazing actors, or crossover appeal. Or maybe it’s just the stars have aligned right. But these 19 films push past the label “chick flick” into being enjoyable movies for anyone with taste — be they guys or girls.
19. Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion
Lisa Kudrow made a pretty good living for playing stupid blondes, despite being surprisingly smart, with a BS from Vasser and research credits to her name. Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion isn’t what anyone would consider a high concept comedy: two dumb blondes pretend to be successful at their High School reunion, but it’s a surprisingly tight script and deftly handled. It could have just been another utterly mediocre chick comedy, yet somehow it has has enough heart to not be utterly dreck.
18. The Devil Wears Prada
A thinly veiled jab at Anna Wintour, this comedy drama about a college graduate assistant to a notorious fashion icon surprised everyone by being, well, good. Good enough to receive Oscar nominations good. It doesn’t hurt that Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, and Emily Blunt are all immensely talented actresses who turned what could have just been sour grapes about the publishing and fashion industry into a film that’s alternately a viciously biting commentary and expertly crafted drama. Plus, it’s as good as you’ll get for an easy introduction into mid-2000s fashion without actually having to do any work. Special credit has to go to Streep, who could have hammed up the villainess role considerably, but instead played it with minimalism and grace, creating a far more nuanced portrayal that might otherwise have happened.
Food, porn, and food porn. For the ladies, there’s Johnny Depp. For the guys, Juliette Binoche. And lots and lots of chocolate and sex. That’s pretty much all the movie is about — fighting against puritanism and repression through food and bonking. It was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture, and if you’re anything even vaguely resembling a food lover, it’s the sexiest thing imaginable. If you want an excellent date night idea, secretly buy some good (really fucking good, none of that Hershey’s bullshit) and stash it for afterwards. Make some incredibly rich Mexican hot chocolate, and light some candles. Let sexytimes ensue.
16. Romancing the Stone
Think Indiana Jones, but funnier and with a heavier dose of romance. That’s Romancing the Stone, and it has enough action and comedy chops to keep even the most jaded hubby happy. It has Michael Douglas when he was still a credible vaguely-action leading man, and Danny DeVito for the slapstick side, not to mention being directed by Robert Zemeckis, the guy behind Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Back To The Future, and Forrest Gump. In fact, everyone was surprised when the film was a great success, as studio insiders pegged it as a mammoth flop, going so far as to fire Zemeckis on his next in-process project. Instead, it was Fox’s only big hit in 1984, and remains surprisingly funny to this day.
15. The Craft
The Craft has a lot to answer for, inspiring all sorts of 90s alt-girls into thinking that Wicca is cool. Wicca was never cool, and never will be. While dreadfully dated style wise (so freaking 90s), it’s still a pretty damn good High School horror, without having the villains as being utterly dreadful or cliche. Critically slammed but still entertaining, The Craft starts strong, but has a notably weak ending. It begins as a sort of black High School comedy which it excels at, but once it goes completely horror, it loses much of the charm that it began with. You can’t help but root for the witches — but that’s the thing about High School, everyone feels like the outcast.
I’ll probably take quite a bit of flack from film fans for this, but I think the 1995 remake of Sabrina was totally watchable. It’s not as timeless or as funny as the Audrey Hepburn/Humphrey Bogart/William Holden 1954 version, but it’s good fun, and it has Harrison Ford, who makes everything better. If you do have a choice, watch the old one, but the more recent isn’t horrible, and even garnered a few award nominations. But the original? Oh, that’s a classic for a reason. For one, you can’t go past Hepburn, and her utterly wonderful outfits throughout the film. Apparently her and Bogart didn’t get on at all, but managed to somehow make their on-screen characters have one of the most impressive and mismatched love stories of classic cinema.
Clueless came out of nowhere in 1995, a sleeper comedy hit, rewriting Emma into mid-90s SoCal fashionistas. A perfect snapshot of the fashion we would consider ludicrous now, it’s still a surprisingly funny and sharp comedy. I remember first watching when quite young, and not getting a huge amount of the sex and drug humour which was targeted at much older kids and adults. While the target of this satire has since more or less evaporated — you won’t find many mid-90s valley girls who talk or act like that any more — the heart is still there, and so is much of the humor.
12. 10 Things I Hate About You
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Heath Ledger before they got famous, Julia Stiles looking young and gorgeous, and a surprisingly well acted High School modernization of Taming of the Shrew. Let’s face it, those three actors might not have been big names at that juncture, but all have proven themselves to be remarkably able and skilled at their craft. It’s shallow as a teaspoon, which is really all you can expect for a teenage romcom, but hey, at least it’s light hearted, well acted, and just fun. Ledger keeps his Australian accent, JGL is a charming geek, and the script has enough humor that you don’t mind just how cookie cutter the story is. Just ignore the spin-off show.
With five Oscar nominations to its name, you can’t say that Ghost is bad — even for an overly trite and romantic romcomdrama hybrid. As snarky as I sometimes feel about this movie, it’s still remarkably good. As heavily parodied as it is, the pottery wheel scene is still incredibly sexy, even after seeing it mocked and copied a thousand times. Swayze and Moore do an absolutely fantastic job of showing the emotional destruction that the death of a loved one can bring, and Whoopi Goldberg as the con-artist psychic performed surprisingly well. It’s really weird to think that the guy who directed this is the same Jerry Zucker who co-directed Airplane and Police Squad, but he proved to be incredibly competent at dramas too.
10. The Sweetest Thing
Despite all the trailers advertising it as a standard romantic comedy, The Sweetest Thing does an incredible job of showing that a chick flick can be just as filled with gross-out moments, bodily fluids, and inappropriate comedy as anything Judd Apatow has ever made. Filthy through and through, you won’t find many other films where an ensemble cast sings the song from Armageddon while a main character tries to get a dick unstuck from her throat. Or the attempts to get semen stains out of a dress. Or discussions about feminine funk.
9. Moulin Rouge!
Baz Luhrmann films are usually worth the effort of watching, if merely for the spectacle. The man knows how to put on a show, with wonderful use of anachronisms — in this one specifically through the music. His set work and special effects are also masterful, in a far more playful way than most other movies try to do, he taps into a sort of sumptuous underworld, sometimes joyful, sometimes despair filled, but always beautiful. Or, if you hate the movie, you can just always hang around to watch Nicole Kidman die of tuberculosis.
8. Drop Dead Gorgeous
This wonderful black comedy mockumentary follows a group of High School girls in small town Minnesota entering a beauty contest. A wonderful send-up of the small town midwest — with activities like the Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club — the entrants in the competition begin dropping like flies and the competition gets gradually fiercer and fiercer. It’s wonderfully absurd and dark, with an ending that’s remarkably odd. There are so many wonderfully weird moments during it, little jokes that are blink and you miss them, and other ones that are so huge and absurdly funny that you just can’t look away: like the talent segment performance involving singing and dancing with a stuffed Jesus on a crucifix with wheels.
7. Pride and Prejudice
The 1995 edition of Pride and Prejudice is a whopping 6 hours long, and if you’re not a fan of period pieces, then there’s no way you’ll like it. However, if you don’t mind the odd Regency era drama, this is easily the pick of the crop, not to mention its place in girl canon for the wet Mr. Darcy scene. As much as most dudes bitch about this sort of film, if you actually bother to pay attention Jane Austen is a remarkably funny writer, and once you get your head into the wordplay, it’s deftly witty in the way no-one else is.
6. Four Weddings and a Funeral
I’m going to couch this recommendation pretty heavily: it’s a wonderful movie but Andie MacDowell is a horrible, horrible actress, who should never, ever be on screen. You know they dubbed over her in Greystoke because her voice was that annoying? Yeah. Apart from her, the movie is wonderful and funny throughout, featuring Hugh Grant at his foppish and ineffectual best. The writing is brilliant, and the ensemble cast manage to keep up the energy and humor throughout the film. It does feel a bit dated, especially clothing wise, but that doesn’t interfere with sly wit and scathing humor that pervades it.
5. When Harry Met Sally
What can really be said about When Harry Met Sally that hasn’t already been said? For years it set the gold standard for romantic comedy chick flicks that were actually watchable by people with taste, not to mention being equally appealing to both guys and girls. Compared to just about every other romance on the planet, it’s darker, more cynical, more bitter and acerbic, yet somehow comes out the end being hopeful about life, and love. Much of the movie’s incredible wit and character come from the fact that the main roles are based on the director and producer, but once Crystal was on board, he substantially changed the script to make it funnier. It’s still a classic, and just as funny as when it came out.
4. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
You think Mad Men is stylish? Watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and you’ll see the suavest, swankiest, and downright amazing suits you’ve ever encountered. And that’s just the guys. You also have Hepburn at her fashionable finest, the iconic and stylish Holly Golightly. No, the plot is even vaguely believable, but it’s so gloriously entertaining and fun that it’s aged remarkably well — most of it, anyway. It’s also surprisingly drug and booze fueled considering our current views of mainstream 60s films. The one major downside is the incredibly racist caricature that Mickey Rooney does of Mr. Yunioshi, which is incredibly offensive to just about anyone, ever.
3. Love Actually
Ensemble cast, tight script, wonderful acting. The wonderful thing about squeezing ten love stories into a single movie is that none of them need to have any real depth, so you just get these ten wonderful, light, and gloriously intertwined stories, starring some of the finest and funniest actors that Britain has to offer. It’s gloriously funny to watch half the cast of Harry Potter in a romantic comedy. It won’t give you any deep philosophical thoughts, but it is the most wonderful, fun and enjoyable Christmas movie in years. Bill Nighy is at his finest as the aging rock star Billy Mack, and probably the best part of the film.
2. Princess Bride
Okay, it’s a stretch to call The Princess Bride a chick flick, but if I had my way it’d be on every list ever. Even the ones that aren’t about movies. It’s a romance, and it’s got some pretty girly moments — young Fred Savage worries that it might be “a kissing book.” Yet there you have it, rescues, escapes, death, torture, one of the world’s greatest kisses, giants, magic, sword fighting, pirates — but above everything else: true love. The love that conquers oceans and time, and that’s something that everyone gets behind. And no one doesn’t like this movie.
1. Mean Girls
It’s totally fine to like Mean Girls, no matter who you are. You know why? Because it was written by Tina Fey, and it had her and Amy Poehler in it. It’s honestly one of the funniest movies from the mid-2000s, and while it’s incredibly easy to write it off as a girly High School movie, that ignores the razor sharp wit that it shows. It’s based in part on actual studies of how girl cliques interact in High School, and the brutality that they show in the film is painfully close to home for some. That doesn’t change that it’s hilariously funny, and that Lindsay Lohan could act at one point in her life.
Written by Tim on March 8th, 2011 | Tagged as: Popular Culture