TO CRY FOR
They’ve been there for us at all hours of the night and day. No, not men, not our best friends, not even our mums; we’re talking chick flicks. Yes, those “women’s movies” most men prefer to stay well away from if given the choice — films characterised by hunky male leads, plenty of melodrama and the potential for buckets of tears.
Chick flicks unashamedly target a female audience and encompass classic love stories, romantic comedies and movies about weddings, break-ups, funerals and friendship. Some are talky films that explore our relationships with mothers, sisters, husbands, partners, friends and ultimately, ourselves. Others are frivolous romps with pretty dresses and expensive shoes.
Whether serious or silly, most chick flicks share elements such as unrequited love, lust, jealousy, regret, betrayal, sickness and second chances. They’re girly films perfect for a night out at the multiplex or a night alone with a box of chocolates and the ironing.
Some end happily ever after, others don’t. The best have memorable soundtracks. While most women readily admit to having a favourite one or two they’ve seen more times than they can count, what’s not so easy is determining what makes the perfect chick flick.
A recent survey of Perth women of varying ages and professions (including Perth film publicists who have seen plenty of chick flicks in their time) revealed that our taste in chick flicks is about as different as our taste in men, shoes and clothing.
Two movies that seem universally popular are the classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Pretty Woman, with Richard Gere still causing hearts to skip a beat almost 20 years after the film was released.
Not a single woman interviewed named My Big Fat Greek Wedding among their top films, which is surprising given it tops the list of most successful romantic comedies and dramas at the Australian box office.
Nor did anyone mention Gone with the Wind, which topped an MSN Movies list of “10 films that drive women to the theatres and drive men crazy”.
Disney Perth publicist Karen Smith can’t go past the Bette Midler classic Beaches, saying it’s a great film for having a cry, and has loved Gere since Pretty Woman. When it comes to laughs, she thinks the new Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds romantic comedy The Proposal is the funniest film she has seen in ages.
A favourite of 20th Century Fox’s WA publicist Natalie Cameron is Jerry Maguire. “It’s just such a darn romantic story —‘you complete me’ gets me every time, as cheesy as it is, ” she says.
“The other would have to be The Devil Wears Prada. I could just look at those fashions all day. Some of Anne Hathaway’s outfits were amazing, and the whole ugly-duckling story is a tried and true winner a la Pretty Woman.”
Pretty Woman still does it for Kathy Sharp, WA publicist for Sony Pictures Releasing.
“I know every word, ” she says. “I just love the whole Cinderella feel to it all and think Richard Gere — then and now — is gorgeous.”
Sharp’s other favourite chick flicks include My Best Friend’s Wedding, Sweet Home Alabama and Sleepless in Seattle. “An Affair to Remember is one of my all-time favourite classic films and the homage in Sleepless in Seattle is fantastic, ” Sharp says.
“The music is great and Meg and Tom make for a great pairing, though I thought You’ve Got Mail was awful.”
Pretty Woman also made the list of Sian Delaney, local publicist for Roadshow Films. Delaney’s other favourites include Grease, Dirty Dancing, The Princess Bride, Ghost, The Notebook, Muriel’s Wedding, Ever After, Titanic, Legally Blonde and The Wedding Singer.
Sliding Doors is the top chick flick of all time for Belinda Giglia, WA publicity and promotions manager for Paramount Pictures Australia.
“The combination of Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah is a hit — two of my favourite actors together is a winning combination for me, ” she says.
“In fact I just watched it again recently for about the 12th time.”
P.S., I Love You is one of the more recent favourites of Shoba Martin, WA and SA publicity and promotions manager for Universal Pictures International Australasia.
“I thought it was terrific in the way it pulled all the heartstrings, not to mention the parade of hunks through the film, ” Martin says.
“And I loved Atonement as a totally engrossing tragic romance. I also loved Notting Hill — the ultimate fairytale of the ordinary bloke capturing the heart of the Hollywood princess.”
While most of the women surveyed for this story mentioned films made in the past 50 years it is interesting to note that films from the first half of the 20th century topped a list of the 50 greatest chick flicks of all time published in the July 2004 edition of O, the Oprah Magazine.
Leading Karen Durbin’s list was the 1930 Marlene Dietrich classic Morocco, followed by Greta Garbo’s 1936 film Camille and Alfred Hitchcock’s 1946 thriller Notorious. Completing the top 10 were The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981), The English Patient (1996), The Women (1939), Julia (1977), Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), The Truth About Cats & Dogs (1996) and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997).
Breakfast at Tiffany’s came in at No. 23 with Pretty Woman at 25 and Four Weddings and a Funeral at 34. Australian-made Rabbit-Proof Fence scraped in at No. 48.
Mt Lawley nurse Kathryn Stephens enjoys Meg Ryan and Reese Witherspoon’s chick-flick credits and is another big fan of Pretty Woman.
“It did for us in the 1980s what Sex and the City does for women of today, ” she says.
Also high on Stephens’ list are Dirty Dancing, Thelma and Louise, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Bridget Jones’s Diary.
She is also a fan of Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion because it’s exactly the sort of film her husband won’t watch.
ABC TV’s Perth publicist Tori Pree is another fan of the hapless Bridget Jones.
“It gives me hope when I’m having my own real-life Bridget Jones moments that everything will work out all right in the end, ” she says.
Love Actually tops the list for Dianella teacher Natalie Bracegirdle, followed closely by Breakfast at Tiffany’s and When Harry Met Sally. She says she has seen each about a dozen times.
“I still cry when I see Keira Knightley standing at the door with the choir singers and still hate Emma Thompson’s husband for being an absolute plonker, ” she said.
Other films that won favour among Perth women include the TV and big-screen versions of Pride and Prejudice and the musical hit, Mamma Mia.
“It’s inspiring to see three older women having so much fun together, and they’re on a beautiful Greek island that has Abba songs playing every five minutes, ” enthused Guildford freelance journalist Hazel Johnson.
“I want to move there. I must have seen it about 10 times.
“My other favourite is My Best Friend’s Wedding; I like that the Julia Roberts character isn’t perfect and in fact does some pretty low-down things in her efforts to get her man back.
“And the ending isn’t typically Hollywood; she doesn’t get the man, she gets the gay guy, who is a lot funnier and more charismatic anyway.”
As for the chick flicks this writer can’t go past? When Harry Met Sally, A Room with a View (the Helena Bonham Carter version), The Last Days of Disco, director Cameron Crowe’s films Singles and Jerry Maguire and more recently, Sex and the City and Definitely, Maybe.
TOP CHICK FLICKS AT THE BOX OFFICE
1. MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING $27. 9 million
2. SEX AND THE CITY $27 million
3. PRETTY WOMAN $26.1 million
4. WHAT WOMEN WANT $22.55 million
5. BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY $22.52 million
6. FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL $21.4 million
7. NOTTING HILL $20.8 million
8. THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY $20 million
9. AS GOOD AS IT GETS $18.74 million
10. LOVE ACTUALLY $18.73 million
11. MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING $17.7 million
12. THE WEDDING SINGER $17.2 million
13. WEDDING CRASHERS $16.8 million
14. TWO WEEKS NOTICE $16.1 million
15. SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE $15.6 million
© The West Australian