Sunday, February 22, 2009

Is It Manly to Dig Chick Flicks?

We've heard the term being thrown around for years. But what does it mean? Are they movies about adolescent poultry? No. Excuse the author's corny sense of humor. He just can't resist sometimes.

From Wikipedia:

"Chick flick (also "chick's flick") is slang for a film designed to appeal to a female target audience. The term was first used in the 1980s, a decade during which such chick flicks as Beaches were released. Although many types of films may be directed toward the female gender, "chick flick" is typically used only in reference to films that are heavy with emotion or contain themes that are relationship-based (though not necessarily romantic and may not involve men). It is typically not used for high art, feminist subject matter, or romantic comedies intended for a wider audience (such as the 2005 film Wedding Crashers and Fever Pitch[1]).
The concept of movies designed to appeal specifically to women has existed since the early days of cinema and has been known by other colloquial terms, including "women's pictures." However, women's films such as Brief Encounter, Now, Voyager, and Mildred Pierce and the 1950s melodramas directed by Douglas Sirk, such as All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind, it might be argued, are sufficiently different in tone and content to be seen as a sub-genre of women's films.

Film critic Molly Haskell suggested that chick flicks are very different from the women's films of the 1940s and '50s in that they now "sing a different tune." She feels that they are "more defiant and upbeat, post-modern and post-feminist."[citation needed]
Several chick flicks have been patterned after the story of Cinderella or other fairy tales (e.g. The Princess Diaries, A Cinderella Story, Ever After, and Pretty Woman), or even Shakespeare in the case of She's the Man; a large number are adapted from popular novels (e.g. The Devil Wears Prada) and literary classics (e.g. Little Women). Other prominent examples include Terms of Endearment and Steel Magnolias."

Wait so you're saying these movies are meant for women? Does that make me gay?.....
Why do I and other men like chick flicks? Based on a recent survey I took of some close male friends, it turns out that one in two males are suckers for sweetie-pie cinema. OK so I only asked two of my friends, but I never said I was a scientist. I'm going to attempt to explain what my fascination with chick flicks is, and hopefully, some of you guys that are still in the closet about your guilty pleasure can identify with me.
From a young age, little boys are also fed the Cinderella fairly tale stories just as much as little girls. We watched the Disney channel too you know. As much as the girls wanted to be swept away by a handsome prince, we wanted to be that prince, sweeping you off your feet and living happily ever after with 2.5 kids and a dog named Sparky. We sustained the same hypnotic bombardment of fictional romance from the media. In a sense, we men are programmed to like chick flicks too. Undoubtedly, the term was coined by a man who was either a) afraid to admit his love for emotional and relationship-based movies for fear of being ridiculed by his male peers... or b) so fed up with his wife crying on the sofa every night over Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore that he needed to be condescending. This guy probably liked that movie too, but he didn't want to commit to it emotionally more than once. Remember girls, crying is actually painful for guys because we don't want to ever be vulnerable. This is where the macho programming in our software usually interferes with the Disney Channel algorithms. And we all know men run the simplest of operating systems with the minimum amount of RAM required:

C:\Program Files\start
C:\Program Files\eat>eggs
C:\Program Files\run>work
C:\Program Files\eat>steak
C:\Program Files\punch>guy>in>face
C:\Program Files\hump>wife\girlfriend>or both
C:\Program Files\end

OK enough jokes. So what do the men who like chick flicks get out of them? Well, first and foremost, they're movies. They're fictional stories and they let us escape our realities for 90 minutes. (or 3 hours if you're watching The Notebook) The dudes who sincerely dig chick flicks still want to believe in something that perhaps doesn't exist. True Love, the "One" and only, Happy Endings (not that kind. get your mind outa the gutter), eternal good looks, a world where it never rains, etc. So yea, I'm one of those guys. I've complied a list of some of my favorite emotional movies involving relationships from the past couple decades. If your favorites didn't make the list, I'm sorry but it's because I either haven't seen them, don't care for them, or... yea that's basically it.
In no particular order:

1. Groundhog Day (1993)
Bill Murray is at his absolute best here with unmatched charm and wit. The always lovely Andie McDowell retains her good-girl persona from 1989's "Sex, Lies and Videotape". Set against a beautiful wintry small town backdrop, and a classic big-band soundtrack, Groundhog Day is one of those movies you want to share with your kids by the fireplace while eating cookies with milk. It doesn't get more feel-good romantic comedy than this.

2. When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Not only do gentlemen prefer blondes, they prefer Meg Ryan. 1990's, you can have your Drew Barrymores and Sandra Bullocks. 2000's, you can have your Julia Stiles-is and Mandy Moores, but we all know who the undisputed queen of the Chick Flicks is. With those gorgeous blue eyes, that youthful demeanor, and a face that just says, "I do" with one of the most radiant of smiles the big screen has ever seen, Meg Ryan made guys all across the world fall in love with her. Oh yea, and Billy Crystal was good too.

3. Brokeback Mountain. (2005)
Yea, I said it. I dare any dude to sit down and watch this movie beginning to end with no distractions and not feel some shit. Jake Gyllenhall and Heath Ledger act their asses off under the superb direction of Ang Lee who manages to bring a gay romance to the masses with widespread acclaim. If you've been passing this one up for fear of turning gay, do yourself a favor and watch it. It's a really good love story. Period.

4. As Good As It Gets (1997)
There's a reason why Jack Nicholson wins oscars. Its because he's good. But its not just him that makes this movie a classic. Helen Hunt (runner up to Meg Ryan), Greg Kinnear and Cuba Gooding Jr. all put in awesome performances in this unlikely romance between a waitress and a strange anti-social author who has a bad case of OCD, among other faults. Even some of the more serious scenes in the movie are expertly complemented with just the right amount of comic relief.

5. Good Advice (2001)
I Believe this one went straight to DVD, but its a hidden gem nonetheless. Charlie Sheen pretty much plays the same character from "Two And a Half Men" (himself). When Ryan's (Sheen) cute, ditsy, gold-digging girlfriend Cindy (Denise Richards) dumps him for losing his job and runs to Brazil with another man, he takes over the writing of her column "Ask Cindy" at a local newspaper. Posing as Cindy and collecting her checks for income, Ryan's initial attempts at writing a women's advice column are brash and male chauvinist. He changes his tune though, and falls in love with his editor, the beautiful Page Hensen (Angie Harmon). This one is so corny you have to love it. Great comic relief provided by Jon Lovitz as "Barry", Ryan's best friend.

6. It Could Happen To You (1994)
Charlie Lang (Nicholas Cage) is an unhappily married New York cop who promises struggling waitress Yvonne Biasi (Bridget Fonda) half the winnings of a lottery ticket in the absense of sufficient cash for a tip. Do we have your attention yet? He wins the lottery and goes to the diner the next day to honor his promise to Yvonne. Does it get more romantical than that? Of course there's drama when Charlie's wife Muriel (Rosie Perez) finds out and all hell breaks loose, but this is one of those great "what if" movies that we all get sucked into and never want to end. That and Bridget Fonda is so goddam cute you just wanna bite her!

7. Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Again, Meg Ryan. Need I say more?

8. Dirty Dancing (1987)
I don't care what any guy says about this movie, we ALL wanted to be Patrick Swayze. The charisma, that bay-boy rebel attitude, those slick moves and the chiseled abs. We all wanted a part of that dream, not to mention getting into pre-op Jennifer Grey's 1958 granny panties. (why did she ever make her nose ordinary?) But this movie was about more than that. It was about standing up to adversity and loving someone when everyone told you that you shouldn't., Because you fuckin' love them goddamit! Nobody puts Baby in a corner, Mr. Orbach!

9. Goodwill Hunting (1997)
Goodwill Hunting? I thought that was just a clever indie flick that Matt Damon and Ben Affleck wrote together? Yea it was, and Robin Williams was dope in it as psychotherapist Sean Maguire. (Probably because he wasn't snorting coke that year) Matt and Ben were also good as usual, but it was Minnie Driver as "Skylar", Matt Damon's girlfriend who stole the show for me and nudged this movie into chick flick territory. Her performance in the scene where Damon tells her he doesn't love her is so sad, I just want to swoop in after he leaves and be her rebound boyfriend forever and ever. Of course in the end he does love her and drives cross-country to find her. awwww.

10. The Story Of Us (1999)
Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer play a married couple who go through a very rough patch in their relationship. They try their best to hide it from the kids but they ultimately seek divorce as the only means to an end. Just when you think all is lost, they start to miss each other, and with the help of an 80's style montage, they get back together. Maybe it was because I was freshly single with a bleeding heart at the time, but this movie really made my eyes get watery at the theater. This one made me want to go home and cry for hours under a blanket.

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