Esquire Writer Explains It's Okay To Watch Chick Flicks

"'Chick flick.' Two words that strike more fear in the average straight male filmgoer than perhaps any others, running slightly ahead of 'date movie' and 'Renée Zellweger.'" Zing!

Writes S.T. VanAirsdale,

They're the only kinds of movies it seems Hollywood isn't trying to improve...Click flicks do reliably well, too, but that's exactly their problem: they're too reliable, and they're always just chick flicks. When the system exploits the same perky stars with the same aspirational longing, sexual hang-ups, and heroic white knights in 100 minutes or less, the boilerplate doesn't incentivize anyone to watch. Hollywood will never get guys to follow the trailers for Couples Retreat as rabidly as they did for Terminator Salvation, but if a "rom-com" is good enough and smart enough, damnit, people will like it...but Hollywood doesn't have enough faith in women to offer them an opportunity to confront the question themselves.

Well, I can't pretend the trailer for Couples' Retreat inspired anything but nausea in this woman, or that I've ever been able to stomach that particular spelling of "damnit," but patronizing and laddish though the tone might be, the sad truth is that he's partially right: studios won't make rom-coms better as long as they think women will settle for mindless claptrap. And he's probably also right: if men started watching smart ones, we'd see less Ugly Truth.

Except, wait, he really likes The Ugly Truth. Because at least it's "way more honest in its treatment of relationships" than Funny People. (And Julie and Julia is "boring," albeit full of "girl power.") And herein, I guess, lies the central conflict: we may have very different ideas of what would constitute an improvement - and for that matter, demonstrate much "faith in women." Basically, he doesn't want chick flicks to be better, he wants them to be dick flicks - which are, by the way, equally formulaic. The difference is, when the formula's romance, it's inherently dull to him - "with its bright, compact idylls of open hearts, romantic love, and happy-ever-after" - not worth his time.

And the thing is, chick flicks can be good. Dirty Dancing, Some Kind of Wonderful, When Harry Met Sally, these are good movies that hew to the formula VanAirsdale may deplore, but feature characters and writing, and are better able to touch a lot of people than the most meticulously plotted, suspenseful drama. The difference is, they're honest. The Ugly Truth is lazy. Movies don't need, inherently, to reinvent the wheel: ask Jane Austen. Ask anyone who's ever read anything, for that matter. We may see a crappy movie for an easy entertainment fix, but we probably won't see it again. Make smart chick flicks and we'll justify the faith in us - and in the genre. And I'm guessing we won't even need to bring the guys.

Why It's Okay to Watch Chick Flicks [Esquire]