Wednesday, May 25, 2011

About Chick Flicks

So, I've been thinking about writing a blog on this topic for a while now. At least since I saw that horrible movie with Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson where they go to war over wanting the same venue on the same day for their weddings. I can't remember the movie's name and don't want to dignify it by looking it up.

In that film, two women, who've been best friends all their lives, suddenly act like total animals over something completely trivial. I don't know which is more appalling to me:
- that the writer/producer of the movies believes women behave this way
- that the writer/producer of the movies knows women who behave this way
- than ANYONE above the age of two would behave that way
- that anyone found this mildly funny -- or
- that I actually went to see this movie.

Yes, women get jealous of each other. PEOPLE get jealous of each other. But I've never understood where this stereotype of women attacking other women comes from. As if it's the default behavior of our gender to claw each others eyes out at the slightest provocation. As if we all secretly want each other to fail.

That has not been my experience with any women I have known.

And that brings me to the two movies I saw last night. Yes two. :) It was a good night. (I wrote a short story yesterday, so was rewarding myself.)

What did I see?  Bridesmaids, then Something Borrowed.

I glanced at a review for one of these movies that made me think the reviewer believed these movies fit into this women-attacking-women category, but I beg to differ. Yes, both movies are about women at odds with each other. Long time friends fighting. But the difference is the friendships in both of these movies seem real -- you could tell these women love each other -- and the things they're fighting about aren't as shallow or stupid as who gets to hold their wedding where, and they don't play horrible tricks on each other like dying her best friend's skin orange or her hair blue the day before her wedding. Who does that sort of thing??? Not to mention literally rolling down the aisle in wedding dresses trying to pull each others hair out.

In contrast, I completely bought Kristen Wiig's character's emotions in Bridesmaids. And Maya Rudolph's. Sure, the protagonist (Wiig) had a character arc and wasn't that in touch with her emotions at the beginning of the movie, but I think any woman who's had a best friend or even sister get married, or a friend develop a new friendship that excludes her, or otherwise move into a different phase of her life, can identify with the mixed emotions that Kristen Wiig experiences with her friend. Trying to be happy for her while feeling sad that nothing's going to ever be the same again. Sure, some of the things she does to act out were a tad over the top (it is a comedy) but I totally believed the motivation behind all the actions and it wasn't over something trivial. It was over their friendship. Even Bridesmaid's "mean girl" has a heart in the end and her misdeeds throughout the film are also well motivated.

Same can be said for Something Borrowed. Now the movie's not as great as the book--I don't think the flashback format worked as well on screen as it did in the novel--but the one thing the movie did do well was make me believe the friendship between Rachel and Darcy. Yes, they are very different people. Yes, Darcy is self-centered and Rachel's a push over, but you get that they love each other and the "thing" they are fighting over is happiness.. and that's not trivial. And really they aren't fighting over it... Rachel is fighting with herself over it, battling with the fact that her happiness and her friend's might be at odds.

I wish more movies portrayed female relationships in such a real way.


Ashley said...

The movie you mentioned first is Bride Wars. I thought it was funny and it was supposed to be ridiculous. It was making fun of weddings. I think weddings have become a total circus! People are obsessed with one day that they lose sight of what it's all really about and I thought Bride Wars portrayed that perfectly. It's not one of my favorite movies but I think it had a good message.
As for the other two movies, I have not seen them yet but I definitely want to! I heard Bridesmaids was awesome!

Sinead M said...

Could we add to the list of terrible cliches, the woman who constantly trips over her own feet...

So sick of that one. Movies, in general, do a terrible job of portraying female friendships, TV is so much better at it.

That said, I'm so excited to see Bridesmaids.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Yeah - I'm hearing all kinds of good things about that movie. Probably not going to lure me out to a theater - but will definitely make my "on demand" worthy list.

Maureen McGowan said...

I wish I agreed about Bride Wars, Ashley. I get that it's a comedy and supposed to be over the top, but it just fed into a stereotype about women that really bothers me.

Go see Bridesmaids. I think you'll like it. It was "quieter" than I expected and really portrayed an evolving friendship well.

Stephanie Doyle said...

I do hate the "cat" fight stereotype. The WORST is the fight for the wedding bouqet.

Seriously? In today's world women are going to stand around and elbow, shove, push and decimate each other so they can get a bouqet of flowers that will absolutely have nothing to do with them getting married?

I'm a sucker for traditions and such... but the way films/tv always depicted that bothered me.

Eileen said...

Sing it, sisters! Female relationships are so complex. I thought Sex and the City did a great job of showing how women support each other, even when they're in conflict with each other.

I'm hoping to see Bridesmaids. I'd like to go see it with a group of girlfriends. Plans are in the works! Not so sure about Something Borrowed. I think I'd rather read the book.

Molly O'Keefe said...

ugh - blogger hated me all day yesterday - I can't wait to see bridesmaids - it's about time there was a feminine skewed R rated comedy that was as smart and ridiculous as The Hangover. And I totally agree about the other chickflicks - but when you go back and look at alot of those total over the top stereotyped stories - a lot of them were written by men, or conceived of by men and then written by women...

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