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Tuesday, August 25, A.D. 2009
Chick Flicks

After mentioning Julie & Julia, I thought that I should dedicate a post to chick flicks.

The question arises: what is a chick flick? For me, chick flicks are simply movies geared toward women. Yet, even that straightforward definition does not resolve categorization controversy. While home, I watched The Devil Wears Prada with my father, who likes most chick flicks. A couple of days later, though, we had an argument at the local United Dairy Farmers ice cream parlor over whether Groundhog Day was a chick flick. My father insisted that Groundhog Day was one when it manifestly is not, even though I conceded that there was a romantic comedy element in the film. As my main evidence, I summoned exhibit A—the scene where Bill Murray’s character Phil Connors abducts Punxsutawney Phil and tries to commit suicide by driving off a cliff. The scene is so hilariously absurd, simultaneously dark and light, complete with the juxtaposition of Murray and the groundhog behind the steering wheel, that it is obviously oriented toward men. In general, the film is too funny and too philosophically profound to be geared toward the fairer, earthier, and more rigidly humored sex. Clearly, my father was wrong, wrong, wrong.

Yet, he argued further that The Devil Wears Prada was not a chick flick. I almost wondered if he were seriously arguing; for with that claim, taken together with his argument about Groundhog Day, he dismisses himself as a serious speaker in an argument about chick flicks. Can you believe it? It’s one thing to claim that Groundhog Day is a chick flick—unbelievable but at least defensible. It is another to deny that The Devil Wears Prada is a chick flick. But to hold to both propositions appears totally contradictory.

At any rate, I did enjoy The Devil Wears Prada, as I expect to enjoy Julie & Julia. Do I love chick flicks? No. It just depends on the subcategory of chick flicks. I cannot stand the “Lifetime movies” that play on women’s paranoia, hatred of men, and suspicion that every other woman wants to steal her husband and murder/abduct/molest her children. That such films seem to interest American women plays a part in my misogyny. What decent, clear headed population could find such filth entertaining or alluring? Similarly, I have no stomach for chick flicks that focus on sexuality or “intimate relationships,” which are so ridiculously sappy or unintentionally absurd that they are unwatchable. Nonetheless, I do like a lot of movies geared toward women that avoid the grotesque emotional porn of the estrogen set. Such films focus on matters more interesting than silly fears and women’s unintelligible world view of courtship and of men.

A chick flick that I enjoy is Fried Green Tomatoes. There is admittedly a Lifetime element in it; it includes an abusive husband, and it furthermore celebrates his murder and his deposition almost as a comic element. The extra mile taken in the film makes it worthy of a man’s attention. Lifetime she-murder: yawn! Wry, covert cannibalism: genius! However, the film in general focuses on the friendships of two sets of women, and it does it earnestly and beautifully. It reminds me of a female version of Stand be Me—not because the plots are similar (which they are not) but because they evoke similar feelings—of times lost, of friendships and their endurance, of how pain and suffering and joint experience mold us into who we are. For an alternative review that is caustically amusing, read the Film Freak’s review by Walter Chaw. I am no feminist, but I like the film.

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, August 25, Anno Domini 2009
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