Admit it, you've probably written a movie off for being a "chick flick." But what is a chick flick, really? It's a film that people find to be too emotional, too corny, too — well, let's just say it — much. But it's time to remove the stigma that goes along with that terminology. After all, those two words are often used in reference to female movies, films starring women that are also aimed at women. They're often movies that men just don't understand, so they've been belittling them for years. But it's time to give these "chick flicks" the respect they deserve. First suggestion? Let's stop calling them by that name, since they're so much more.
These kinds of films that get called "chick flicks" often focus on the love between a man and a woman like say, The Way We Were with Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford, which you could just call a romantic film. Or, the love between female friends like Steel Magnolias, which is movie filled with badass women that is clearly just a drama, not unlike a Godfather, which looks at the relationships between a family, both by blood and otherwise. Often there is something heart-wrenching at the film's core, like say a terminal illness, that will leave you in tears. Honestly, raise your hand if you haven't cried yourself through Beaches? But, it's like a good cry — a necessary cry even.
Some of the most legendary chick flicks have been reduced to something they're not, which is this assumption that they're not important. That they're frivolous and have no deeper meaning. It's why it's worth looking back at some of the quote-unquote "chick flicks" to see just what these films are really about when you take the time to take a closer look.
Grab the tissues before watching this story about best friends, played by Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey, who after 35 years of friendship are met with their biggest challenge: a broken heart, quite literally. Hershey's Hillary is diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy, a disease that affects the heart muscle and requires a transplant, which she knows she will unlikely get in time.
It's easy to write it off as tearjerker, but this movie should be remembered for showing that the love between two friends is something we shouldn't take for granted. Oh, and it should also be remembered for Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings," because that song is amazing.
2. 'Legally Blonde'
Just like assuming Elle Woods is just a "dumb" blonde, it's silly to think that this rom-com is just a "chick" flick. This Reese Witherspoon classic is all about not letting others underestimate who you are and who you could be. Basically, don't judge a book, or in this case, a movie by its cover. What, like it's hard not to do? Surely, it's not nearly as hard as getting into Harvard.
3. 'The Notebook'
This is a tearjerker that has everyone, women and men, grabbing the Kleenex. And if you're not, well, then seriously, are you a robot or something? Whether you think it's a good movie or not — and honestly, most critics really, really, really didn't — it's a decades-spanning romance that delves into the importance of finding someone who challenges you and calls you out. It's that kind of love, romantic or otherwise, that can stand the test of time.
4. 'When Harry Met Sally'
"Can men and women just be friends?" It's the question at the heart of this rom-com, and it's one people are still debating years later. In 2008, Psychology Today looked at platonic relationships between men and women, calling it the "Harry Met Sally question," noting that these kinds of relationships were relatively new. That may be why people were so drawn to the movie. It wasn't just the love story that got people hooked, it was this inside look at how men and women talk about love and sex. Even today, there's still some insight to be found — even if it's taking a closer look at the gender roles society forces us into.
5. 'Fried Green Tomatoes'
Based on the 1987 novel by Fannie Flagg, it looks at two friends, played by Mary Stuart Masterson and Mary-Louise Parker, and how they take care of an abusive husband. Oh, it gets dark and it may encourage you to lay off pork for a long time. But, what it really shows is how much we hunger for a connection with someone who understands us and how hard that can be.
6. '10 Things I Hate About You'
For many, this teen-take on Shakespeare's Taming Of The Shrew was the perfect way to ogle Heath Ledger. Seriously, find a partner who can do both: sing and dance. But it's also a movie that focuses on the importance of finding your identity. Sometimes it doesn't happen the way one might expect, as is the case of Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles), who becomes her truly feminist self after an experience with a terrible boyfriend. But it's those life-changing moments that often reveal who we really are, which makes this movie a must-see not just for teens, but for anyone going through a confusing time who needs a little reminder.
7. 'Steel Magnolias'
The movie deals with a group of Southern women — Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis, and Julia Roberts— who are coping with a death of one of their own.
It's dramatic, sure, but why wouldn't it be? It deals with friendship and what happens when it ends without you having a say in why. It's a topic that doesn't just pertain to female friendship, but life in general.
8. 'The Devil Wears Prada'
There is one very important lesson that Miranda Priestly, played by Meryl Streep, teaches — and no, it's not why you're wearing cerulean. It's that it's easy to get caught up in a job or a relationship and become a different person. Someone who you definitely aren't; not to mention, someone you definitely don't like. But it's never too late to go back, as Andy realizes when she's not willing to undercut her friends to get ahead.
9. 'Breakfast At Tiffany's'
Audrey Hepburn's Holly Golightly is an elegant and sophisticated New Yorker, at least that's what she wants the world to think. In actuality, she's created this character as a way of running away from her problems. Holly Golightly lives up to the expectations of others, but she's still figuring out what kind of person she wants to be. To do that she needs to cope with everything she's tried to ignore in her past. The theme here is self-actualization and self-acceptance, and the journey she goes on to find herself is a journey all of us will take.
10. 'Sleepless In Seattle'
Sure, this is an epic love story based on an, even more, epic love story (An Affair To Remember), but it's also about how you learn to love after loss. The title is a reference to Tom Hank's Seattle-based character, who can’t sleep after his wife dies. He has to figure out how to go on, not only for himself but his son. You watch as he figures out how to love again, but more importantly, he finds hope in a hopeless place.
11. 'Pretty Woman'
It's a cultural touchstone that tells a different kind of Cinderella story, but a feminist classic? When this film was released nearly 30 years ago, it was seen as a misogynistic film that glamorized prostitution, but in 2015, the website B*tch Flicks made the case that Pretty Woman is empowering for women. That the film actually portrays a rom-com heroine who is in control of her own body. Vivian (Julia Roberts) sets the perimeters in her relationship with Edward (Richard Gere) and when he doesn't stick to her terms she is willing to let him go.
Throughout, Vivian talks about wanting a white knight to save her. She tells him she wants the "fairytale," but Edward needs her just as much as she needs him. Pretty Woman gave us a complex heroine, which may have been hard to see back then, but is worth taking a closer look at now.
12. 'Dirty Dancing'
No one puts Baby in a corner, but Dirty Dancing did put serious issues like abortion front and center. With this film, it's easy to focus on the dancing and the Patrick Swayze love scenes because after all, who isn't crazy for him? But no one should forget how slyly this movie, set in 1963, tackled reproductive issues. On the 30th anniversary of Dirty Dancing, screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein told Broadly that she made sure the illegal abortion scene was left in the 1987 movie because she didn't want women to forget that, despite Roe v. Wade passing 14 years prior, the fight for women's rights wasn't over.
At the time, she wasn't sure if that message came through, but thanks to social media, Bergstein has seen how seriously women take the film. She told Broadly that she's seen "hundreds and hundreds of young women" commenting about how "they realized this movie was not a guilty pleasure, that so many of their moral and political attitudes came from it, so that was lovely." Isn't it, though?
13. 'The Way We Were'
Love and politics don't always mix, as this movie, which stars Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford, shows. The bittersweet love story has all the trappings of a chick flick: boy meets girl, but their differences make it hard for them to keep love alive. But, it stays clear from the usual clichés that would guarantee these two would somehow work it out because 44-year-old spoiler: They don't.
This movie is actually a film about the need to stick to your principles even if that means you have to say goodbye to the one you love. It's sad, but true, and it's also pretty inspiring.
14. 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding'
It's got "wedding" in the title, so it must just be about a wedding, right? Wrong. Nia Vardalos' directorial debut is about family and learning to deal with them even in the toughest moments. While this is about a Greek family in particular, it's hard not to see your own family in it, which is why it was so successful with even those people whose dad didn't use Windex as a cure-all.
15. 'How Stella Got Her Groove Back'
Getting one's "groove back" became a punchline, but this film starring Angela Bassett was anything but a joke. It took a closer look at a woman who had just turned 40 and was figuring out what she wanted in her life. She was re-evaluating her career and her relationships. And while she may find a younger man to help her find her sexual groove, it's all about her finding herself again.
16. 'Thelma & Louise'
In 2011, The Atlantic called Thelma & Louise "the last great film about women," and the reason was because it was such a transformative film. Not only for the female characters in it, but also those who saw it. It was a revenge fantasy (that in no way I condone), but it showed that there is power in being female and there's even more power in numbers. Something that the world is starting to see now thanks to the #metoo movement. Women are coming together to show that no one can take that power away, something Thelma and Louise showed over 25 years ago.
These movies have been around for years, but this might be the first time you've really given them a fair shot. It's time to admit that the words "chick flick" is a genre that belittles women, those who make it and those who watch it. So, let's stop using the term and just call these films what they really are: good.