Updated: May 31, 2012
If you subscribe to the school of mediocre humanity, then the gender division works thusly: women want to have babies, men like to watch sports and drink beer with their buddies. Accordingly, male movies are supposed to be violent and stupid, while female movies are meant to be cuddly and annoying. Does this mean that if a man is forced to watch what is inherently a chick flick he will not enjoy it?
Most likely no, but there are a few exceptions. Several movies do deviate from the expected formula and provide decent entertainment to male fans, or rather victims, despite being boldly branded as female-oriented. Now, before we dig into the actual titles, let us briefly overview what constitutes as a chick flick.
No suffering, not a chick flick!
While we assume that men are the violent sex, cruelty is truly a female character. If you do not believe me, search a bit on Milgram experiments and see who electrocuted those puppies. Anyhow, internalized suffering and long-term persistence at it are two dominant characteristics of the female psyche. Naturally, women empathize with topics at hand, be it books, documentaries or plain entertainment cinema. This is the reason why most women find Fawlty Towers intolerable to watch. While men simply enjoy John Cleese's stellar performance, women live it. And that's not a pleasant thing. Accordingly, female movies are mostly about suffering.
A chick flick must have a tragic hero, who is doomed to die. And he will die, have no doubt, for cruelty is the name of the game, but the important thing is that the audience relates and connects with the character throughout the ninety minutes of his suffering. Prime examples include Ghost, Titanic, The English Patient.
The male lead must also exhibit emotional growth, otherwise it's boring. Whenever a woman ensnares a man into her grasp, be it for financial or procreational purposes, she immediately begins a life-long process of changing him into the ideal hero she envisions. Down the road, after she succeeds, she will probably complain that she is no longer in love with him, because he's not the same person she started dating, LULZ. Thus, a good chick flick will have a guy suddenly love puppies or dancing like never before, because it shows not his willingness to compromise, learn or accommodate his partner, but the woman's awesome mind-changing powers.
Hence, a good chick flick will have tons of suffering inflicted upon the man, his attempt to redeem himself and possibly some other elements, like cat fights and financial bickering.
On the other hand ...
On the far end of the spectrum, what makes a good man-movie is usually a combination of the following elements: sex, boobs, more sex, shooting, killing, good humor, sex, boobs, cars. As long as you make sure there's a bit of this or that in any movie, the guys will love it. They will compromise, as long as you stick to shooting and sex. That ought to do it. Such modest requests.
Most of these topics are not interesting to most women, because they do not pose an emotional challenge. Linear topics are a done deal, so they deserve no mention. Now, you could have a movie about a car mechanic with a cancer trying to get custody of his two children yes. But a movie about a car mechanic making awesome cars no.
To keep men satisfied and engaged, you must introduce some of the elements listed above. If you do, even classic chick flicks could become tolerable. For example, if Titanic had a scene where terrorists try to take over the ship like in Under Siege, then it would be an awesome movie to watch. You could keep the movie intact, with all the drama and whatnot, just add an extra 20 minutes of shooting. Or trade in the iceberg for a German torpedo.
And so, let's see the several movies produced with enough flair and style that they can keep men engaged and happy. We will also grade the movies using a special chart, which lists the man-important elements and their weight in the movies. These include wimmin, shooting, carrrs, and humor. Without further ado, follow me.
Six days seven nights
In this movie, Anne Heche (Robin) is a successful, aggressive fashion magazine executive, Harrison Ford (Quinn) is a retired guy who lives in a little paradise of an island in the Pacific called Makatea. When Anne and her fiance arrive there for their pre-honeymoon or such, she is at first appalled by Quinn's nonchalant and brusque attitude. Then, she must fly to Tahiti, because she is a workaholic, and Quinn happens to be the only pilot available. Anne leaves her fiance behind with the Quinn's accidentally buxom friend slash stress relief partner, while she flies with Quinn to work during her vacation, I mean how sick is that. But then, there's a storm and the two of them crash on some tiny island. And so starts the story of romance and whatnot as two people who supposedly dislike each other must overcome their prejudice and learn to cope.
Normally, you would have to suppress the gag reflex at this point, but it is not so. Although survival on a stranded island in the Pacific is less charming that what the movie shows, the execution is decent enough. Balance between romance and adventure is well maintained. You also get a healthy dose of breasts, which is important to make this movie agnostic, as well as evil pirates who want to kill Robin and Quinn. Guess what, Harrison Ford gets wounded, no surprise there, but he does not die, so this kind of helps not make it a chick flick.
The highlight of the plot is a casual conversation between the two lead characters, where they discuss families and children and all the usual stuff that keeps women piqued. Then, Harrison, for all his charm, blurts the biggest lie of the millennium:
"I want to have kids, bunches of them"
Right, true. But it sort of works. And he does maintain enough of his Indiana Jones spirit that you don't feel like trapped in a vortex of misery. All in all, the cast pulls it off well. A lesser man would have failed, but Ford does his job decently and seems to enjoy it, and as a guy with loads of money and a girlfriend half his age, we can only admire him. Anne Heche manages to be good-looking, which is a first for her. David Schwimmer, who happens to play Robin's finance, avoids being annoying, another bonus. And you get a handful of perks, so it's a good thing.
In the end, this movie is quite pleasing to watch for both genders. It does not impose, it does not try to be radical and in your face. It is a lightweight romantic adventure with enough to keep both men and women satisfied. You might even watch it twice, when you're in the mood.
The Wedding Date
The story line goes as followed, quoted from IMDB: The Wedding Date centers around Kat Ellis (Messing), who returns to her parents' London home for her sister's wedding. Afraid of confronting her ex-fiance, who dumped her two years before, she hires a top-drawer male escort (Mulroney) to pose as her new boyfriend. Bingo.
OK, so we have a woman indulging in self-pathetic pity, so typical. And the cliche idea of hiring a prostitute to play the cool and handsome guy with feelings and all that might make you want to give up before you start watching, but don't. Honestly, this movie has its share of man-charms. And it justifies the ultra-old saying that money can buy you love after all, and there might even be BLT sammiches for you in the deal, if you pay extra.
Overall, the female characters are fairly annoying, and there's a whole horde of them, but you also get enough flesh to satisfy your ocular photon receptors. Then, the male hero is adequate enough for his task, and even though you can't pinpoint any specifics in his performance, he does not deserve a brick in his face, which makes his acting commendable. Under normal circumstances, he still deserves the brick, but he gets one free pass because of this movie.
|The Wedding Date is about escort, only not this kind of escort, I'm afraid|
Debra Messing looks massively doable, which adds credit to her role as the sad girlfriend who tries to win her man back through subterfuge and jealousy rather than resorting to plain old tricks like hammering a rabbit's head to your front door. Happened to my friend, truth. She also exhibits atypical behavior for the type she plays. Most importantly, she is not trying to change the guy, so you're spared the silly torture of how he wears pink and caresses baby rabbits.
Now, another clue this is a guy-ok chick flick is that it received a relatively low score on IMDB and lots of scorn in the reviews by the female audience. Which means this is a movie that guys can also watch! All in all, not as good as Six Days Seven Nights, but still reasonable enough. The omni-important urgency of having wasted two hours of your life will not be presented as the credits roll. Cars and action are in low supply, but you get decent doses of wimmin and humor.
Be warned! There are many spinoffs of this movie, most horrible to the point of trying to stab your eyes out and low-level-formatting your brain. As a guy, you might feel brave to venture into additional chick flicks, having been enlightened by The Wedding Date, but don't. Keep it humble.
OK, I'm cheating, because movies with John Cusack are always man-approved. The entire cast of this movie is atypical for the genre, as it credits the names like Billy Crystal, Christopher Walken, Hank Azaria, and Alan Arkin the legend. While you may want to focus on the budding romance between John's character and that of Julia Roberts, the real fun is provided by the secondary ensemble. Alan Arkin is pure joy, Billy Crystal is annoyingly neurotic and predictable but still lovable, and Hank makes the movie with his ferocious yet insecure act.
So what happens is that John and Catherine are former husband and wife as well as stars of some soap opera. And would be a reunion of hearts could be a reunion of the show. And while they bicker and fight and relearn all the reasons they ended up separate, Julia Roberts sneaks in surreptitiously, casting her spells on John and making him like her, because she is the geeky yet cool fifth-wheel sister, who used to be chubby but now she's hot, although this is far from the truth, but so be it, and so forth.
The plot is loose, there's not much suspense, but you get professional egotrips that make up for the lack of boobs and cars and shooting. Humor is aplenty. Once again, a great indicator this is a man-rated movie is the plentitude of one-star reviews by women. The major complaint is that you don't care about characters. Cry me a river. Go watch Titanic get sunk by a German U-boat. Wait, I wish it happened that way.
P.S. Another excellent John Cusack chick-flick-like movie is Must Love Dogs, again because of John. Someone else, and it might not have worked. So do take a look. I'm not including it in this list, because it contains two lead actors already listed here, Mr. Mulroney I Deserve A Brick In My Face and, yes you guessed right, John Cusack.
Well, I'm cheating again. Coen brothers are plain and simple geniuses, hence they could remake Romero's Dawn of the Dead, and it would be a witty delight, including funny names. Anyhow, Catherine Zeta-Jones makes another appearance here, so I was almost inclined not to list this movie, but the overall good outweighs the second listing.
On paper, the plot is about a revenge-seeking gold digger who marries a womanizing Beverly Hills lawyer with the intention of making a killing in the divorce. The truth is, the story is nothing like that. You get the gold and the digger and the lawyer and all that, but the heart of this movie really revolves around love. Only, it's not your and mine kind of love, but love that people with hundreds of millions of dollars have, one laden with mistrust, private detectives and prenuptial agreements, happy happy joy joy. So there's the premise for chick-flickness. Other than that, you get all you would expect from Coen Brothers.
You have Cedric the Entertainer nailing ass, you have George Clooney flash his teeth before the camera in the most dental way possible and you have Jonathan Hadary offer a one-in-a-lifetime performance as Heinz, the Baron Kraus von Espy. And let us not forget Billy Bob Thornton and Goeffrey Rush. Did I mention the names are absolutely ridiculous?
Truth to be told, this is a black comedy with sparkling flashes of lightning-white and some groin knee kicks just to keep you in shape. If you're unable to appreciate cynicism on a suicide level, then you might not like this movie. But if you want romance, it's there too. In fact, romance that you could probably equate to the Battle of Crecy, if you're into smart allegories. Chick flick, because it gets mushy, but not a chick flick, because it was directed by the smartest brother pair alive today. Humor is in abundance, shooting is there too, but it is mostly replaced by non-gunpowder violence of supreme kind. No cars and little to no flesh, but you can live with that. Most recommended, although if you call me a cheat, I won't begrudge you. This is not a typical girl movie.
Someone Like you
Now, here's a proper chick flick. Ashley Judd plays a woman incapable of handling her own inability to cope with the lack of partners or love or both, which stands to reason, considering her inability and whatnot, so she develops a self-defense theory how men are sexist animals. Well, the producers phrased it a bit more eloquently than I did, stating: After being jilted by her boyfriend, a talkshow talent scout writes a sexist column accusing all men of being cheaters, which gains her national fame.
With the outrageously implausible double-identity story unraveling in the background, Ashley is getting her conviction eroded by Hugh Jackman's character. He plays the forever-wounded one-night-stand chauvinist slash hunter, who has the heart of gold, but it has been tarnished, and now it's up to her to burnish the lump to a shine.
Now, don't delude yourself. Both Hugh and Ashley show their share of PG13-rated anatomy, so you get the expected alloted boobs time, both manlike and womanlike. There's some humor, although it is veiled in neuroticism, and none of the cars or action. The movie is fairly slow, but the plot is complex enough to keep you moderately engaged. Most importantly, as a guy, you do not suffer boredom or gag reflexes, which is surprising for this kind of story. I really can't pinpoint the reasons, but overall, the nauseating effects of the sexual revolution retold by a divorcee-syndrome-suffering woman and a guy who has had his heart BBQ-ed are blessedly absent, making you watch an easy-going lightweight romance comedy. Okay for slow days, when your testosterone levels are rather low and you're not in the mood for any serious thinking. You'd best watch one of van Damme's earlier movies afterwards as a safety precaution, though.
And that's all. Why only five you ask? Because there are NO seven chick flicks a guy can enjoy. Boom. Just kidding. You can probably name a dozen if you try hard. Still, five is nice, a decent number, so there you go.
Just before we jump to conclusions [sic], the BEST would-be chick flick ever made is probably The Wedding Singer. It's Adam Sandler, so you might never believe the connotation, but it's true, I swear it. Adam Sandler manages to exercise romance, which is absolutely staggering. It's like watching Steven Seagal play Hamlet. For all the surreal Felliniesque moments that pervade all of Adam's movies, swinging wildly between utterly vulgar to absurdly oligophrenic, there's a happy valley of cute guy romance interlaced, replete with great music and a shipload of nostalgia, that you end up totally charmed. But this is never ever included in the classical chick-flick category. And we're done here, ladies and gents.
Who said you can't be romantic without all that teary eye bullshit and the template behavioral rules outlined in female brainwashing magazines. Romance can be had without terminal suffering or guys doing things that make them into girls, essentially. You can combine beef jerky with the Valentine or have women propose to YOU without flashing a useless ring. And you can sort of try to enjoy chick flicks without your brain melting.
Now why would you want to do something like that? Well, a plenty of reasons, but you must have your own hidden agenda, wink wink. So if you're planning on a major emotional maneuvering, then you might as well take the initiate and exercise your spiritual maturity by volunteering chick flicks of your own. It's called the principle of least suffering. If you are going to be forced to watch movies specifically created to entertain one half of the human population, and you happen to belong to the other half, then this article should help you get the best deal out of an impossible bargain, so to speak. Hope you'll appreciate the sacrifice I did for you, here, watching all them movies, straining my brain. And that would be all.
P.S. The Chicks, Ford Escort and Uncle Sam images are in public domain.