Sometimes, you really just want to get all dressed up with the girls, head to the nearest bar, and dance the night away. Other times, you’d rather stay in for the night, clad in your most comfortable pajamas, scarfing down a buffet of unhealthy meals, and gossiping with your friends over endless chickflick movies. For the evenings when you prefer to stay in and kick it in bed, it’s essential that you gather around your television screen for a mandatory viewing of some feel-good chickflick movie that will inevitably leave you in stitches or in tears. Here are ten chickflick movies to watch with your roommates.
Spoiler Warning is in Effect!
1. Dirty Dancing
This wouldn’t be a chickflick movie list without the infamous Dirty Dancing. For some reason, Dirty Dancing just doesn’t get old. It remains as original, relevant and sparkling as when we fell for it back in 1987. This beloved, record-breaking film has as many fans as ever. The ones who can quote the corny lines, sing the songs and sometimes even do the saucy dance moves.
Dirty Dancing’s soundtrack may effervesce with sixties classics, but its undisputed highlight is I’ve Had The Time of My Life (followed closely by the excellent Hungry Eyes, also composed by Franke Previte). The song won an Oscar for good reason. With its shamelessly twinkly beginning, ripening climax and hyperbolic sentiment, the song follows the pattern of all good on-screen romances. But listen carefully and you can hear wisps of I’ve Had The Time of My Life, the slightly sad version, edging into scenes as early as five minutes in.
Inspirational montage scenes were ten-a-penny in the eighties. So it’s saying something that Dirty Dancing has the best one in The Hungry Eyes Montage, which even manages to beat Kevin Bacon teaching a man incapable of clicking his fingers how to dance in Footloose, released three years earlier.
Why is The Hungry Eyes Montage so good? The chord progression in Previte’s song lends the whole affair an element of danger. We know there is pressure here – not just for Baby to learn the moves, but also to win the affections of Mr. Castle. Here is a woman who must overcome her giggles as he sensuously brushes her side in the name of Mambo.
But the scene also succeeds because, as George Michael did with Careless Whisper, it manages to make feet vaguely sexy after those twirling white plimsolls magically transform into shiny heels. It’s quite the metaphor for Baby’s rapidly disappearing innocence, and that’s before you get to the part in which she inexplicably practices in nothing but pants over tights.
2. She’s the Man
Amanda Bynes is lovable in this hilarious chickflick movie. She plays a girl who pretends to be a boy in order to play soccer. That this story is recycled from Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” is something I report right here at the top so that we can work together to put it out of our minds.
Bynes plays Viola, the twin sister of Sebastian (James Kirk), who at the start of the movie conveniently sneaks away to London for two weeks without telling anybody. This is much easier on Viola than the Shakespeare version, in which she fears her brother has perished at sea. But I will not mention Shakespeare again. Viola is the star of the girls’ soccer team at Cornwall Prep, a school that seems to have enough money to supply every girl with her own soccer team. She thinks she’s good enough to play for the boy’s team, but her hopes are scorned, so she takes advantage of Sebastian’s absence to take his place at nearby Illyria Prep, named after the country in Shakespeare’s play. There she tries out for the soccer team.
Can Amanda Bynes convincingly play a boy? Of course not. She plays a cute tomboy with short hair who keeps forgetting to talk low and then nervously clears her throat and talks like she’s on the phone to the school office: “Viola is sick today, and this is her mother speaking.” Can she play soccer and live with a male roommate and take showers and not be exposed as a girl? Of course not, but at least the movie doesn’t make a big deal out of it; she has a few close calls, and thinks fast. When the coach (Vinnie Jones) announces a practice game between Shirts and Skins, she offers compelling reasons why she should be a Shirt.
Viola/Sebastian’s roommate at Illyria is Duke, no doubt inspired by Duke Orsino in Shakespeare. Duke seems attracted to Olivia (Laura Ramsey), but Olivia is attracted to Sebastian/Viola, who gets a crush on Duke because he speaks with such sensitivity about women even when having a private conversation with her, or him. Duke is played Channing Tatum, who sounds as if he should be the child of Carol Channing and Tatum O’Neal, which in this movie might be possible, although in real life he was born in Cullman, Ala.
Tatum is 26, a little old to play a high school kid, but Amanda Bynes at 19 is convincing, and her poise, under the circumstances, is extraordinary. The movie develops interlocking romantic triangles, and adds some funny supporting characters, including David Cross as the headmaster, whose exuberance is as boundless as his baldness. Her mother, played by Julie Hagerty, dreams of the day when her little girl will come out as a debutante; while being coached as a deb, Viola is advised to “chew like you have a secret.” And boy, does she ever.
It’s funny and entertaining and a personal favorite, guilty pleasure, chickflick movie of mine.
3. 10 Things I Hate About You
On March 31, 1999, the teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You hit theaters, and the world has never quite been the same. It boasts a cast on the cusp of stardom — Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Heath Ledger among them, plus Allison Janney as the erotica-writing guidance counselor, just months before The West Wing debuted.
The film is remembered for more than serving as a breeding ground for a new generation of stars. It’s a pitch-perfect comedy, too. Based loosely on Shakespeare’s play The Taming of the Shrew, the movie told the story of two sisters in Seattle, Kat (Stiles) and Bianca (Larissa Oleynik), whose overbearing doctor father forbade them from dating in the fear that they’d come home knocked up. With her best friend Chastity (Gabrielle Union), Bianca is the school’s queen bee and the locus of attention for the guys, and she desperately wants to date; both greasy-haired hot rod Joey Donner (Andrew Keegan) and sweet new guy Cameron James (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) want to be the lucky guy.
But Bianca isn’t allowed to date until Kat does. So Cameron and his nerdy new friend Michael (David Krumholtz) hatch a plan to get Joey to hire Patrick Verona (Ledger) to take Kat out. The trouble is that Patrick is the kind of guy who smokes cigarettes in class and is rumored to have eaten a duck alive, beak to tail. And Kat is an angry feminist who would rather do anything than go out with him.
The film holds up wonderfully, 20 years after its debut, not least because it managed to subvert some of the seamier, culture-bound aspects of The Taming of the Shrew — a story about a man badgering his high-spirited wife into submission — and turn them into something contemporary and sharp, without losing the romance.
It’s funny, cheesy, and the romance is perfection. It’s another one of my favorite chickflicks and thus made it onto my list of ten chickflick movies. How many times do you think I can say chickflick by the end of this? Ha!
4. 16 Candles
Sixteen Candles, the teen classic directed by John Hughes. That name might sound familiar, and it should, John Hughes directed ‘The Breakfast Club’, another movie classic.
High school sophomore Samantha “Sam” Baker is hopeful her 16th birthday is the beginning of a great new year but is shocked when her family forgets because her older, vain sister Ginny is getting married the next day. Her frustration is compounded by the fact that her crush, senior Jake Ryan, has no idea how she feels.
At school, she reveals her feelings about Jake in a “sex quiz” she tries to give her friend Randi which, unbeknownst to Sam, Jake intercepts. Meanwhile, Jake asks his friend Rock about Sam, having noticed her looking at him in their independent study class. Rock dismisses her as an immature child, but Jake says he is frustrated by his girlfriend Caroline’s partying ways.
On the bus ride home, geeky freshman Ted, who has a crush on Sam, repeatedly flirts with her only to have Sam reject him.
At home, Sam’s day gets worse when she discovers she must sleep on the sofa because her grandparents and a foreign exchange student named Long Duk Dong are all staying at the house for the wedding. Her grandparents also have forgotten her birthday and make Sam take Dong with her to a dance at school that night.
At the dance, Sam pines after Jake as he slows dances with Caroline while it doesn’t take long for Dong to attract the large-breasted jock, Marlene. Ted embarrasses Sam by dancing with her after bragging to his geek friends, Bryce and Cliff, that they are dating. When Sam runs away, the geeks bet Ted a dozen floppy disks that he can’t get physical with Sam. Ted accepts, but Bryce and Cliff demand Sam’s underpants as proof of his success. Jake, having seen Ted and Sam dance, asks Ted about Sam.
Ted finds Sam in the auto shop where she opens up to him about her family forgetting her birthday and her feelings for Jake. Ted tells her Jake asked about her and Sam excitedly asks if she should talk to Jake or wait for him to come to her. Ted, despite his feelings for Sam, encourages her to approach Jake. Before she leaves, Ted tells her about his bet and asks to borrow her panties. Later, in the boy’s bathroom, Bryce, Cliff, and Ted charge the other geeks one dollar to see Sam’s underwear.
At Jake’s house, Caroline and her friends have started a wild party. Jake, angry with Caroline, retreats to his bedroom and tries calling Sam, but her grandparents yell at him for waking them up and tell him Sam isn’t interested. After the party ends, Jake is furious at the damage left behind. He finds Ted hiding under a glass coffee table after he angered some jocks by knocking over their beer can pyramid. Ted gives Jake Sam’s underwear and tells him Sam is interested in him. Jake says he is tired of his relationship with Caroline and offers to let Ted drive a drunken Caroline home in his father’s Rolls Royce.
The next morning, Sam’s mother apologizes to Sam for forgetting her birthday and everyone heads to the church for the wedding. Jake arrives at Sam’s house where a hungover Dong miscommunicates that Sam is at church getting married. In the church parking lot, Jake finds Caroline and Ted making out in the back of his dad’s banged-up Rolls. Jake and Caroline agree to break up, but remain friends. Jake then drives to the church just in time to meet an incredulous Sam after her sister’s wedding.
That night at Jake’s house, Jake gives Sam her underwear and a birthday cake with 16 candles on it. He tells her to make a wish, but she says her wish already came true. The two of them kiss as the film fades to black.
Now, this personally wasn’t my favorite chickflick movie. But, my sister and my mom absolutely love the chickflick movie and a lot of other people do, too.
5. Love Actually
“Love Actually,” the 2003 chickflick movie that launched a generation of cinematic hot takes, is the story of nine interconnected relationships in the weeks ahead of Christmas in the United Kingdom. They’re united not just in their relationships but also by Heathrow Airport, a third space that bookends the film and is used by lowly tourists and prime ministers alike.
It has a plotline for every moment in your relationship, from the first crush to the grave, and the story covers all the holiday season staples: the Christmas party, the school pageant, the holiday songs. Plus, the cast is great, and the performances are solid — there’s a lot to like, actually. Yet by the time the credits roll, you may not have learned much about the titular emotion.
The film has launched careers. Thomas Brodie-Sangster — who played Sam, the precocious kid who falls for the girl with the same name as his recently deceased mother — has gone on to appear as a regular character on “Game of Thrones” and as a lead in the ongoing Maze Runner franchise.
Still, it’s the actor who played Sammo’s step-father whose post-“Love Actually” movies have made the most money. Liam Neeson’s parenting in the movie was questionable — encouraging a child to sprint through security toward an airplane post-9/11 is never good fatherhood — but Neeson’s later attempts at parenting were even worse, oftentimes resulting in the child being Taken. That awful parenting, though, led to an outstanding and lucrative franchise.
6. Pitch Perfect
Pitch Perfect came out four years ago and somehow the little comedy that could is still a pop culture phenomenon. The acapella-themed movie starring Anna Kendrick initially had modest box office success, but with its DVD and soundtrack, Pitch Perfect’s postrelease year is when the movie really gained steam. It’s launched several of its actors to stardom and spawned a No. 1 Billboard hit in “Cups,” plus a sequel, a Christmas album, and one very cute couple. Even Kendrick expressed shock recently that “Cups” had done so well, posting this Instagram video of her reaction.
Beca (Anna Kendrick), an aspiring mixmaster/DJ, is a freshman at Barden University in PITCH PERFECT. Her father, a professor, won’t let her drop out of college to move to Los Angeles and start her DJ-ing career without having her try college first. He ups the ante when he notices Beca spending more time in her dorm room than out on campus, attending classes and getting to know her peers. If she joins one group and gives it her all and still ends the year determined to move, he’ll finance it himself. So off to the Bellas she goes; the Bellas, once an esteemed all-girl a cappella group, need new members.
At the nationals the previous year, the now co-captain, Aubrey (Anna Camp), threw up on stage, ruining their chances. Then again, the Bellas have always played second fiddle to the Treblemakers, Barden’s all-male group; the Bellas’ repertoire is steeped in old songs, and they’re stale. Beca thinks it’s time to shake things up, and most everyone else agrees, but Aubrey is firmly in the skeptical camp. Can they make a comeback at this year’s nationals? And can Beca keep her mind on the game when the Treblemakers’ sweet and talented Jesse (Skylar Astin) is such a distraction?
This movie pumps out the humor just as it pumps out the drama. Thus, making onto my list of chickflick movies.
Another important choice for the chickflick movies list. Though not my favorite movie on the planet, it is a favorite for a lot of people.
James Cameron’s Titanic is a masterpiece like no other, I will admit it, it took the movie world by storm when it released this week 20 years ago and is still just as incredible today. For most, it’s the closest a film will ever come to being perfect, from a technical standpoint to a storytelling perspective every detail is undeniably flawless.
There’s a reason it shares the records for both most Oscar nominations (14) and most wins (11) and it isn’t luck.
I guess Titanic made its own luck, as Cal Hockley (Billy Zane) would say. The film is an amalgamation of fact and fiction with the story focusing on the sinking of the presumably unsinkable ship 105 years ago and the enthralling love story between fictional characters Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) and Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio).
The performances are riveting, the cinematography is stunning, the music is phenomenal, the visual effects are astounding, and it is all magnificently pulled together by Cameron to create this monumental in scale, magnificent work of art of a chickflick movie. Some spoilers for the film will follow but at 20 years old it’s all common knowledge.
8. Bring it On!
Released in 2000, Bring It On set itself apart from other teen comedies at the time. Unlike American Pie, it didn’t try to win an audience with raunchiness, and unlike teen chickflick movies, it didn’t rely on heady relationship melodrama tucked beneath a veneer of in-the-moment pop culture jokes (ahem, She’s All That). On the film’s surface, it was a sharp, satirical look at the world of competitive high school cheerleading, with Kirsten Dunst as Torrance Shipman, the newly-minted captain of a squad on its way to their sixth consecutive national championship.
Happy and oblivious in her senior year of high school, Torrance has everything going for her: a perfect boyfriend, the top spot on the cheerleading squad, and a championship victory on the horizon. She’s surrounded by snarky airhead fellow cheerleaders who try to thwart her decisions at every turn, and the film is peppered with clever dialogue exchanges as Torrance deftly maneuvers around their BS, navigating her way through her new responsibilities. Enter Missy and a harsh dose of reality.
Missy (Eliza Dushku) is a new student transfer, an edgy gymnast who joins the squad and whose presence represents a rude awakening for Torrance in more ways than one. Not only does she clue Torrance into her former captain stealing routines from an inner-city squad, but as a narrative device, she’s there to help Torrance make that rough and painful transition from high school to adulthood.
In high school, we live in this protective little bubble filled with friends and exams and extracurriculars, and while some of that prepares us for college and the world beyond, none of it truly prepares us for the responsibilities and the harsh realities of being on our own, of taking ownership of our mistakes and our faults, of trying to be better versions of ourselves. This makes the chickflick movie very relatable.
Missy helps remove the blinders from Torrance’s eyes, showing her a world that exists beyond her high school, and even her own city.
9. The Princess Bride
It’s often discussed how the golden age of mature, adult-oriented fantasy has come about in the last decade or so. Indeed, the genre’s pop culture dominance is as undeniable as The Lord of the Rings winning Oscars, Game of Thrones winning Emmys, and the Harry Potter films just winning all the money that’s on the table.
Yet, with all the scowling severity of today’s digital sorcery, the form’s universal roots of artifice and oral tradition have been as supplanted as Bilbo Baggins’ role in The Hobbit films. In lieu of excessive Orc decapitation and decadent CGI wizard battles, an adolescent mania for the somber has hidden the emotional reason we love these kinds of stories: they’re eternal daydreams meant to be shared from one generation to the next. No film understood that better than the less modern, but infinitely savvier, The Princess Bride.
The Princess Bride plays just as marvelously in 1080p as it did when I first watched it on a worn VHS tape with my mom. For over 30 years, children have been as awed as their parents were amused by the Rodents of Unusual Size, and have been collectively smitten with a love story that considers tumbling down a mountainside an act of romance. In fact, the only thing that has aged a day about the picture is how its initial audience of children is now old enough to share it with kids of their own. This unabashed joy of passing a cinematic storybook from one era to the next is where the real alchemy of the genre lives—a feat just as surprising now as it was then.
The Princess Bride came out in an era when fantasy was considered the realm of well-intentioned misfires, with projects like George Lucas’ Willow and David Bowie making the moves on Muppets and Jennifer Connelly alike in Labyrinth.
The idea that it could be as celebrated for adults as it was for children seemed a novelty act before Inigo Montoya first hissed, “You killed my father, prepare to die.” Roger Ebert even championed this innovation when he understated, “The Princess Bride looks and feels like Legend or those other quasi-heroic epic fantasies – and then it goes for the laughs.”
The Princess Bride is a wonderful chickflick movie for a girls-night-in. I can’t watch it anymore without quoting the hell out of it.
10. Mamma Mia!
And finally, we’re at number ten on the list of chickflicks. I saved my personal, all-time favorite movie, for last because I wanted to do it justice. My boyfriend and I both love this movie and we watch it almost every date night we get. Being long distant, we don’t get that many date nights, but that’s not the point.
I love it because it’s a film that celebrates women and women of a certain age. It’s very unusual to see a film where the men come out looking completely ridiculous. Not in a nasty way, but they come out looking like chumps, while the women are gorgeous and wonderful. Common for cheesy chickflick movies.
It’s the kind of film that you come out from feeling happy, and that’s a rare experience. Aka, a good as hell chickflick movie that both males and females enjoy. The politics are in there, but I’m not so interested in them: they’re not the main focus. It’s just a joyful, celebratory, happy experience. There are so many movies where the women are sidelined and marginalized, just to turn that around is in itself a political act.
A trip to the cinema is pure escapism, especially when the film allows you to bask in the Greek sunshine and leaves you with a big smile. ABBA is, of course, responsible for some of the most memorable songs in history, combine that with a fantastic cast and a great storyline involving strong female characters and it is no wonder the chickflick movie was such a success!