From time to time, I like to bare my soul to you, dear readers, in the hopes that, by being totally honest, you, too, will find the strength to stand up and say, "Hey! It may not be a cool movie, or a popular movie, or it may be a chick flick, but I enjoyed that!". So, with that goal in mind, and despite the fact that by merely acknowledging that I’ve seen these movies I put myself in danger of being ejected from the ‘man union’, here is a group of movies that I really liked, and have actually watched more than once!
My Best Friends Wedding – Yes, I know that this may be the ultimate chick flick (after Fried Green Tomatoes), but, I actually enjoyed it. This story of tomboyish, Julia Roberts, heading home for the wedding of her best friend (who happens to be a dude) only to find herself attracted to him romantically, while at the same time finding that she actually likes his fiancé! So, she finds herself torn, does she declare her love and destroy his life or does she remain quiet and perhaps ruin her own? This movie is actually a very funny movie, Roberts (who I’m ordinarily not a fan of) is great, Dermot Mulroney is great as the totally clueless hunk and then, for you guys, there’s Cameron Diaz as the slightly dim-witted fiancé who Julia likes and dislikes at the same time. My Best Friends Wedding is a movie that my wife dragged me to, and I enjoyed more than she did, and, I have to admit, I’ve seen it a couple more times since it’s been on TV!
Flowers In The Attic – This quintessential girls book was turned into a very bad movie in 1987. This is a movie that will keep you attention like a traffic accident. The story of a young girl who’s mother locks them in an attic in order to marry a man who doesn’t know she has children is one of the most confusing things ever committed to celluloid! First, there’s the child abuse aspect of the movie, where the children are locked in the attic and (we find out later) are being slowly poisoned. Then, there’s a whole side story of incest, with the older brother and sister, played by Kristy Swanson and Jeb Stuart Adams, beginning to act like the parents of the smaller children, and it seems to be leading to more…there’s a scene with Kristy in the bathtub, and Jeb comes into the room and it begins to feel like this is leading to a torrid love scene, when Louise Fletcher, playing the Grandmother, enters and breaks things up! As a viewer, you’re feeling torn between feeling happiness at the possibility of seeing the young, hot Swanson nude and feeling like a creep because this is a brother and sister for God’s sake! Flowers In The Attic is played totally over the top, if it wasn’t meant to be campy, then they hit all the wrong notes, because everything is so overly dramatic that you can’t help but be drawn in. I have to be honest and say that I took a girlfriend to see this in the theatre and have actually sat and watched all or parts of this movie several times in the preceding years! I’m not sure if it’s a guilty pleasure, or if it brands me as some kind of deviant!
The Devil Wears Prada – Now, I have to admit, first off, that I know nothing about fashion, except that on those fashion channels the chicks very rarely wear bras. So, while I don’t understand fashion, I know that I like it! That being said, I dragged my heels when my wife wanted to see The Devil Wears Prada, I don’t even know what a Prada is, so why the devil would or wouldn’t wear it made not difference to me. But, after just the first few minutes I was drawn into this story. Basically, the story is of Andy Sachs, played by Anne Hathaway, who finds herself as the assistant to Miranda Priestly, played by Meryl Streep. Andy only wants to be a journalist, but has a choice of a high fashion magazine or a sports magazine, so, being a girl, I guess the fashion mag is the better bet. Seeing the job as only a stepping-stone to her real dream, Andy suddenly finds herself drawn more toward the seemingly shallow world of fashion and away from her dreams…and her friends. The ultimate moral of the story is to stay true to yourself, no matter what the situation, and you’ll finally achieve the goals you’ve worked so hard for. Now, while, I have to admit that the only way I was drawn into this movie was the word of mouth, hearing how funny it was, and it really is, this may be the first Meryl Streep movie that I actually enjoyed…and watched more than once! Whether you know fashion or not, The Devil Wears Prada is a great movie about an evil boss and the poor minions who are forced to do her bidding.
Love Actually – This is probably the movie that I felt least likely to enjoy, but probably enjoyed the most. Love Actually is a thinly veiled Christmas movie that follows the paths of several different people, the British Prime Minister, a washed-up rock star on a comeback, a little boy who’s feeling love for the first time and a pair of soft-core porn actors. Each story intertwines, but barely meet each other, the Prime Minister, who’s newly elected, finds himself drawn to a lowly worker at Number 10 Downing Street. While he wants to get to know her better, events and situations conspire against them both, until he’s forced to show his more human side (against his advisors wishes) in order to show her how he really feels. The rock star is a man who has been on top and now finds himself, through a fluke Christmas song, on top again. Now, he has to deal with returning to the rock star life, after years of living like a normal person, with the help of his manager, who has been his only supporter through the years. The most touching story though is of the single father, who’s dealing with the recent loss of his wife while raising a son. When his son develops a crush on a schoolmate, he has to set aside his own heartbreak to show his son what you should do to win a girl’s heart. Each story is a different aspect of love, the story of the Prime Minister is your typical love story, while the single father storyline is both sad and heartwarming, and, if you’re a guy, you’ll understand the rock star’s story better than the others, as the rock star learns that real love doesn’t mean hearts and flowers, but discovers that his manager has been his best friend through all the years and chooses to spend the holidays with a friend rather than spend it partying with the beautiful people who have re-accepted him because of his success. Love Actually stars Hugh Grant (as the Prime Minister), Liam Neeson (as the single father) and Bill Nighy (as the rock star) and it probably one of the few romantic comedies that actually includes storylines for both genders. Usually these things are aimed fully at the female market, while this one was marketed that way, I have yet to meet a guy who sat through it, who didn’t enjoy it. Love Actually has actually (pardon the pun) become one of those movies that I watch every holiday season, it’s fun, it’s funny and it has a heart. And, I defy you to not get a bit teary eyed at the end of the film, if you don’t , I’d have to question whether or not you have a soul, my friend!
Are there other ‘chick flicks’ that I would…or did…enjoy? Probably, and there’ll probably be more, the problem is that, like most ‘manly men’, I’m always leery of heading to the multi-plex to see one of these, there’s always the danger that you’re walking into a Fried Green Tomatoes or a Terms Of Endearment, but occasionally, there’s a ‘chick flick’ that I enjoy. Here’s the bottom line for me, while in public I may talk down these movies, and most of the time, I’m right, every once in a while you have to break down and let your wife or girlfriend pick the movie, and, if you keep an open mind, you might find that some of these are actually good movies. And, while none of them will ever make my all time favorites list, they’re still movies that I enjoy and will continue to…even if it’s behind drawn shades!