These movies are made for a woman but are strong enough for a man.What does chick flick really mean? Some view it as a derogatory term to describe any movie, particularly a tearjerker, that appeals to the female psyche - i.e., it explores emotions and relationships on a deeper level than typical Hollywood fare and is not crammed with action, effects, hot babes, and blowing stuff up. Of course, that is a positive in an era of low-calorie movies that could use more of a balance. Let's face it, plenty of women enjoy checking out event movies like Pirates of the Caribbean as much as men do, if for slightly different reasons. And while many men fear the notion of watching a soul-searching ensemble movie like Steel Magnolias or Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood as much as some women cringe at the thought of seeing the next James Bond movie, there are plenty of alleged chick flicks out there that tread a middle ground that couples can enjoy. With V-Day just in the rearview mirror, I thought I'd roll out some titles that will halt the battle of the sexes at the video store and easily solve the problem of what to watch.
Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
British teenager Jess (ER's Parminder Nagra) was born into a traditional Indian family. While her older sister is going to follow the route of marrying and settling down, Jess wants to chase her dreams of being a soccer player, which worries her disapproving parents. When a big soccer tournament is scheduled for the same day as her sister's wedding, the tension rises. This vivacious movie works on multiple levels: as a feel-good flick, a sports movie, a culture-clash tale, and a romantic comedy. It also costars a prestardom Keira Knightley.
Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
Renée Zellweger stars as the titular character, a publishing assistant who's cute, spunky, socially awkward, and caught between two men (Colin Firth and Hugh Grant) who have plenty of character flaws and a bitter feud that killed their friendship. There was an alleged controversy over Zellweger's having gained weight for the role, which was ridiculous because she looks gorgeous here. The film shines with its lively characters, saucy dialogue, and amusing fistfight between Bridget's suitors in an Italian café.
Mmmm, chocolate. A chocolatier (Juliette Binoche) and her daughter innocently open a confectionery in a repressed French town, but their succulent temptations and associations with a band of gypsies (including the suave Johnny Depp) turn everything upside down for the leery locals. Part food movie, part love story, part comedy of errors, Chocolat is one sweet flick. You'll laugh; you'll cry; you'll crave dessert.
Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)
An insecure middle-aged woman with a failing marriage (Kathy Bates) becomes empowered when she befriends a spunky elderly woman at a retirement home (Jessica Tandy) who tells her a tale of a loving friendship between two strong Southern women (Mary-Louise Parker and Mary Stuart Masterson) that survives childhood death, domestic violence, and murder. There's even a deliciously shocking revelation at the film's end. See? Just your average chick flick.
Somewhere in Time (1980)
After the stunning success of Superman, Christopher Reeve avoided going the action-hero route and dove into this story of a modern-day playwright who falls in love with an early-twentieth-century actress (Jane Seymour) through a photo and then journeys back in time to meet her. This is the only movie I've seen that equates time travel with lucid dreaming, and while the narrative logic is a bit thin, it's a charming concept that's played out well and has an unexpected ending. The film was directed by Jeannot Szwarc (Jaws 2), written by Richard Matheson (The Twilight Zone series), and scored by John Barry (of James Bond fame), but there's just a hint of testosterone present.
Directed by Vincent Ward and inspired by a book by Richard Matheson (Somewhere in Time), this visually dazzling film stars Robin Williams and Annabella Sciorra as Chris and Annie, a couple who magically meet in Europe. But after the untimely death of their two children, later followed by Chris's early departure from this mortal coil, Annie is left alone and ultimately commits suicide. Told in the hereafter that a damned soul can never be rescued, Chris relentlessly searches through heaven and hell to find Annie and reunite his family. What Dreams May Come is an enchanting and sometimes dark ride that will blow your mind.
What Women Want (2000)
It’s surprising that macho Mel “Braveheart” Gibson starred in this feminist romantic comedy about a chauvinistic, freewheeling ad executive who, through near electrocution, gains the ability to hear women’s thoughts. Overwhelmed by all this new information, he first uses it to seduce a coffee-shop hottie (Marisa Tomei) and then learns to better understand his teenage daughter, his coworkers, and a rival (Helen Hunt) who nabbed the position he wanted. It’s a hilarious and touching story, although it now comes with unintentional humor when Gibson tells one young man, “Thanks for the yarmulke.”
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Can men and women be just friends? Director Rob Reiner and writer Nora Ephron pondered that very idea in this classic romantic comedy starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan as the titular friends/potential lovers. What would be completely pedestrian material in lesser hands is elevated by fine comedic performances from the cast and by some snappy dialogue. The scene in a Manhattan deli is legendary, and for good reason. Ryan is incredibly hot with her clothes on.