Sunday, May 29, 2005

10 Best Chick Flicks on DVD

Although I am calling this a list of the 10 best chick flicks out on DVD, I am torn about the use of the term "chick flick." I have my own criteria for what constitutes a "chick flick." I use it here to mean a movie that women will love, a movie that has a lot of heart, a movie that is uplifting to women, and a movie that sends a valuable message about what it means to be a woman.
Here are 10 of my very favorite "Chick Flicks" of all time, all available on DVD:
1. BRIDGET JONES' DIARY (2001)
Bridget Jones' Diary, a light-hearted comedy starring Renee Zellweger, is often credited with starting the "Chick Flick" movie phenomenon. I'm not sure if this is necessarily true, but I can tell you that this film has all of the classic elements of a true chick flick. The heroine, Bridget Jones, is a single woman who is struggling with career problems, dating problems, family problems and weight problems, not necessarily in that order. She is crazy about the bad boy, a cad whom Hugh Grant plays as if he knows where he's coming from. She has a love-hate relationship with Mark Darcy, played by the dreamy Collin Firth. Mark Darcy is the handsome but nerdy guy who anyone but Bridget can see is absolutely perfect for her. In the end, Bridget gets the guy, gets the job, and her family problems are resolved. The message of this movie that I absolutely love is that, in the end, Bridget seems to come to terms with her weight, and to love herself, as Mark Darcy and the rest of us do, just as she is.
2. CRIMES OF THE HEART (1986)
Crimes of the Heart is my very favorite kind of movie and is one I can watch again and again and again. Based on Beth Henley's award-winning play, Crimes of the Heart stars Jessica Lange, Diane Keaton and Sissy Spacek. Crimes of the Heart tells the story of three sisters, Lenny (Keaton), Meg (Lange) and Becky, nicknamed "Babe" (Spacek) who come together to support each other when Babe is accused of attempted murder after shooting her husband. Although the movie has an underlying dramatic theme, it is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange and Sissy Spacek all give amazing performances as the McGrath sisters, still scarred in their adulthood by the death of their mother, who hung herself and the family cat when they were just young girls. Tess Harper, as the women's cousin and Lenny's next-door neighbor, Chick, is absolutely hilarious. I'm also here to tell you that the fact that my all-time favorite actor/playwright, the amazingly handsome Sam Shepard, has a major role in the film as "Doc," Meg's old flame, does absolutely nothing to hurt this film. The movie's heartful and hopeful message: In the end, one of the most valuable and under-appreciated aspects of life is the sisterhood of women.
3. WHEN HARRY MET SALLY (1989)
When Harry Met Sally tells the story of two, long-time best friends, Harry, played by Billy Crystal, and Sally, played by Meg Ryan. The screenplay, written by Nora Ephron, is both funny and touching. The subplot involving the relationship between their two best friends, played by Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby, is sweet and funny, too. The movie was directed by Rob Reiner and follows Harry's and Sally's friendship as it develops from their first meeting at the end of college, through broken relationships for both of them, until their eventual realization that they are perfect for each other. The messages I love from this film: The perfect love you keep searching for may be right there in your own backyard, the best love grows from friendship, and there is nothing better than someone who makes you laugh.
4. MY BEST FRIENDS' WEDDING (1997)
Julia Roberts and Dermot Mulroney star in this film about best friends that did NOT fall in love. However, when Dermot's character Michael falls in love with Kimberly (Cameron Diaz) and wants Julia Roberts' character, Julianne, to come to the wedding, Julianne begins to wonder if, perhaps, Michael was the one who got away. She finds it difficult to let go of the man who has adored her since the two met in college and enlists the aid of her dear friend Rupert Everett to try to get Michael back. Rupert Everett's performance is stand out. The movie is one laugh after another, especially any scene including Rupert Everett. In the end, we are left not quite sure whether Julianne realizes that she didn't really love Michael in the first place, but had a moment of panic, or whether she comes to accept that, sometimes in life, a missed opportunity is missed forever. The message I took from this film: Sometimes in life there are mistakes that just cannot be fixed, so don't let the moment pass, thinking you can always come back to it when you are ready.
5. 13 GOING ON 30 (2004)
Jennifer Garner stars in this charmingly fantastic film about a young girl who wishes she could skip the awkward teenage years and go right into a sophisticated adulthood. Hailed by some as a female version of Tom Hanks' "Big," this film is so much more. Garner channels her inner child with exquisite and joyful precision, and Mark Ruffalo is the perfect childhood sweetheart and grown-up true love. I saw this movie twice in its opening weekend alone. The messages that kept me coming back are the same messages that are in many other chick flicks, but I found it conveyed perfectly in this film: Your best friend just may be your one true love, and that geeky guy next door just might grow up to look like Mark Ruffalo. *Sigh*
6. BEACHES (1988)
Gary Marshall directed, and Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey star, in this classic film about the enduring friendship of women, from childhood through adulthood. Although it definitely has its funny moments, this film is a heartwarming drama that follows the friendship of funny and outrageous CC (Bette Midler) and classy and sophisticated Hillary (Barbara Hershey) from their first meeting as young girls on an East Coast beach, under the boardwalk in Atlantic City, to a West Coast beach house on the California coast 30 years later. The women's friendship weathers ups and downs and endures despite their polar opposite personalities. The film closely follows the book, written by Iris Rainer Dart. This film's message: The reasons two women become best friends are often indecipherable. But, once they do become true friends, their friendship will be loyal, enduring and forever.
7. WAITING TO EXHALE (1995)
A terrific ensemble cast makes this film shine. Angela Bassett, Whitney Houston, Loretta Devine and Lela Rochon star as four long-time best friends struggling to find perfect happiness and true love. Angela Bassett's opening scenes are classic. As in most really great chick flicks, the four friends find that true love lies in the most unexpected of places. The women's enduring friendship gives them the love, support and security for which they've been searching. My favorite messages in this film: (1) Men are sometimes just not worth the trouble; (2) Even in the best case, they are dessert, not the main course; and (3) In the end, you have to learn to depend on yourself first, before you can relax and depend on anyone else.
8. MURIEL'S WEDDING (1995)
Before there was Bridget Jones, there was Australia's Muriel. Muriel (Toni Colette) is another single heroine trying to come to terms with dating, relationships, friendships, body image, family and career. Muriel is the classic misfit, a socially inept and overweight ABBA fan who just can't seem to fit in, no matter how hard she tries. Muriel moves to the big city with her new best friend and fellow ABBA lover, Rachel Griffiths, and copes with her inadequacies by hiding in a fantasy life in which she is smart, beautiful, charming, successful and completely irresistible to men. The favorite message that I took from this amazing film: Not only do you have to learn to love yourself as you are, you have to trust and expect that others deserving of your love and friendship will as well.
9. NEVER BEEN KISSED (1999)
Drew Barrymore shines as Josie, the still-nerdy but successful grown-up journalist who gets the chance to relive her high school days and become the popularity queen she never was. If you were ever the unpopular girl (or boy) in school, who always thought the grass was greener on the other side, this movie will touch your heart. Michael Vartan is dreamy as the handsome, sensitive, high school English teacher who captures Josie Grossie's heart. David Arquette is fabulously funny as Josie's ever-popular older brother. I could watch the final scene at the baseball stadium over and over again and I have. My favorite message from this movie: When you learn to appreciate and love yourself just as you are, that's when you truly begin to grow and become the very best person you can be.
10. PRACTICAL MAGIC (1998)
Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman play two orphaned sisters raised by their eccentric, spell-casting aunts. Both sisters struggle to escape tragic pasts, each in her own way, and eventually come to terms with who (and what) they are. The film does an excellent job of capturing the magic and whimsicality of Alice Hoffman's novel. Despite the pervasiveness of magic in their lives, the heroines struggle with the same issues most women do, including overcoming insecurities, drawing boundaries and learning to trust again. The message of this film that I most love, taken straight from the final lines of the book: "Always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder. Keep rosemary by your garden gate. Plant lavender for luck. Fall in love whenever you can."

Copyright (c) 2005 by Leanne Phillips

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