The term “chick flick” is stupid. Segregating an entire collection of films because of the perceived audience they are directed at is ridiculous. A good movie is a good movie regardless of who it’s supposedly made to please. To that end, we’ve collected together eight films that most would assume are aimed at women. If you dismissed these movies because of that reason, you are missing out.
Heathers is one of the first great satires of high school life. It’s also one of the darkest. Good girl Veronica (Winona Ryder) teams up with sociopath J.D. (Christian Slater) to kill off the most powerful clique in the school. The pitch black humor probably would throw up a lot of red flags today, but it still works almost thirty years later.
One of the best parts of the film is the character of Veronica. She allows herself to get wrapped up in J.D.’s cynicism and misanthropy, but eventually takes control of the situation by the film’s end. Winona Ryder plays the part pitch perfect, encapsulating all the angst, ennui, and perceived persecution you feel in high school. It’s a relatable performance that also happens to be delightfully funny at times.
Heathers is a twisted and hilarious take on every aspect of high school, especially the importance we place on our romantic relationships at the time. It’s a film that far transcends any simple little box people try to put it in. Corn nuts! [Drew Dietsch]
When Harry Met Sally… (1989)
When Harry Met Sally… doesn’t feel like a chick flick, but that’s probably because it isn’t one. Still, like other famous romcoms, the film has become irreversibly ingrained in pop culture. Director Rob Reiner, recently divorced at the time, based the titular Harry Burns on his return to single life. Writer Nora Ephron derived Sally Albright from her own experiences, as well as those of her friends.
The film’s premise was simple: “Can men and women ever just be friends?” Even though the answer was apparently no, the film was a huge success, raking in $92.8 million against its $16 million budget and garnering a trove of critical acclaim. Actors Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan vicariously brought Harry and Sally to life, as the two friends have unplanned encounters over 12 years and eventually marry.
What makes When Harry Met Sally… so enduring is that it’s about aging and growing old together. It’s about finding companionship not out of loneliness, but out of a genuine connection. It also created one of comedy’s most memorable scenes:
To this day, Katz Delicatessen in Manhattan hangs the following sign above the table where Crystal and Ryan filmed their famous scene:
Ghost is one of those films that has practically been ruined by satire. The Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore starring film is a romantic drama at heart, but the supernatural element of the story makes it really stand out as something special. Ghost is full of great characters, strong performances and very emotional and at times horrifying moments.
There are a lot of creative elements at play here in this movie. Everybody remembers the pottery wheel scene and the needle drop of Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers, but Ghost has way more to offer than a few key scenes that have become cliché due to parody. Swayze plays the tragically killed Sam Wheat with real conviction and it’s hard not to root for the guy. It’s a career-defining role that is just as charismatic and charming as anything he ever did.
Just about everyone in the film is working in top form. Whoopi Goldberg is genuinely hilarious as the con artist fortune teller Oda Mae Brown, and Tony Goldwyn is spot on as the slimy villain who betrays Sam. The moments where Swayze works with a violent poltergeist played by Vincent Schiavelli to learn how to move objects is a great nod to Rocky’s training montage with Mickey. There are a lot of great moments like this in the movie that keeps it fun.
The darkest parts of the film are probably the most impactful. Watching this recently, I couldn’t help but think of how well Ghost would play alongside the Robin Williams classic What Dreams May Come. Sam’s journey from being a loving husband to spirit protector, to eventually passing on to the afterlife is an emotional punch to the gut. Even the moments where shadow demons drag the bad guys down to hell make Ghost more than a throwaway. [Andrew Hawkins]
No other “chick flick” has defined the ’90s like Clueless. The loose adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma has become a milestone for the era and rightfully so. Clueless is a bright, bubbly, sweet and smart window into what it means to be a powerful woman. It’s also one of the funniest movies ever.
Cher (Alicia Silverstone) and Dionne (Stacey Dash) are the pinnacles of popular at their school. When shy new girl Tai (Brittany Murphy) shows up, Cher decides to take her and make her one of the cool girls. The movie works in a lot of cheeky jabs at the self-obsessed and materialistic society of teenage life in Beverly Hills. It’s also got an unbelievably hunky Paul Rudd, so there’s always that.
Clueless is expertly written and directed by Amy Heckerling, and the script is one of the film’s strongest assets. Cher, Dionne, and Tai are great characters that transcend any shallowness they might seem to wallow in. Great characters are always in short supply, and Clueless is chock full of them. That alone deserves appreciation. The rapid-fire humor is just the best possible bonus. [Drew Dietsch]
It is possible that Titanic is the biggest “chick flick” from the last quarter of the 20th century. We all at least know the theme. “My Heart Will Go On” will stick in your ear for the rest of the day. Or the thousands of memes of Leonardo DiCaprio trying to catch his Oscar. Or the experiments which explain that Kate Winslet and Leonardo could lay on the door at the same time and survive together.
In 1912, the Titanic departs on its ill-fated maiden voyage from Southhampton to New York. Among the passengers is the soon-to-be-married Rose DeWitt Bukateer with her aristocratic family, and the lower-class artist but soon-to-be King of the World Jack Dawson, who won passage in a card game. The pair falls in love with each other and rebel against the restrictions of their respective social classes. Meanwhile, the Titanic turns into a ticking time-bomb after the ship has collided with an iceberg.
Those who think Titanic is only for women and believe that the whole plotline is schmaltzy and maudlin have a point. But, the love between two teenagers is only the tip of the iceberg. The whole story has a lot more to offer during its 190 minutes than just romance. It is also a drama, a documentary, and a disaster movie. And some free advice for men: it’s okay to cry. [Cyanide3]
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
10 Things I Hate About You isn’t just a great film starring a number of fantastic young actors, it’s also a romantic comedy based on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. Heath Ledger is ridiculously charming as the bad boy Patrick Verona. His attempt to woo angry feminist Kat (Julia Stiles) is adorable, especially when he sings to her from the bleachers. Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is his co-conspirator in a plot to get Kat to date Patrick so that he can take her younger sister to prom. Everyone is on comedic point, especially Kat and Bianca’s father, portrayed by Larry Miller. He forces Bianca to wear a “baby belly” before the dance in order to remind her of what unprotected teenage sex can turn into. Yikes.
The movie also has a tender side that anyone who survived high school can relate to. When Kat reads a poem about loving and hating Patrick in front of her class, it’s hard not to want to cry. Compared to a number of the other teen romantic comedies from this era, 10 Things I Hate About You is a real standout. It wears its heart on its sleeve and feels genuine. It’s funny, sweet, and features Heath Ledger as a bad-boy teen heartthrob before things got so dark. I can’t find anything to hate about this movie, really. [Danielle Ryan]
Mean Girls (2004)
The epitome of an aughts “chick flick.” An absolute classic that is referenced every Wednesday because, “On Wednesdays, we wear pink.”
Mean Girls tells the story of new girl Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) who moves from Africa to a high school in Illinois. She manages to become friends with the stereotypical popular girls of the school, dubbed The Plastics. Once she becomes part of their group, she begins to learn what friendship really is. The film follows her hilarious journey as she discovers the difference between the animal world and the human world.
Mean Girls should be on every teen girl’s film list due to its hilarious statements, the famous “Burn Book,” and Amanda Seyfriend’s dumb but lovable acting. The ending will fill you with the hope that all teenage girls will eventually become like the characters (only at the end though…). It is a tale of bullies, fitting in, being the new girl, and most of all acceptance of everyone regardless of who they are or what they look like. Mean Girls will always be in the “chick flick” hall of fame. [Kitty Bates]
Paul Feig’s raucous comedy about a group of bridesmaids is funny no matter what gender you associate with. The story primarily focuses on Annie (Kristen Wiig), best friend of the soon-to-be-bride Lillian (Maya Rudolph). The two have been best friends forever, but Lillian’s new friend and bridesmaid Helen (Rose Byrne) seems to be competing for Lillian’s affection.
The humor of Bridesmaids is appropriately ridiculous, but much like Clueless, it’s really the strength of the characters that makes the movie special. All the performers do a great job of shaping lovable and understandable characters. It’s a testament to their talent that the entire crew ends up being a cast you’d want to see again.
Over-the-top comedies are often reserved for male juvenile shenanigans. Bridesmaids proves that being filthy and funny isn’t strictly the purview of dudes. Ladies can be just as gross and gut-busting. [Drew Dietsch]