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We’ve all seen one. A movie that made us laugh and cry and jealous and hopeful all in about two hours. Chick flicks are Hollywood’s response to demographic statistics. According to the Motion Picture Association of America, 52% of moviegoers are women. It makes sense to appeal to a large portion of this significant market base.
Chick flicks are a huge money maker, particularly around Valentine’s Day when movie sales are typically lower. But what is a chick flick? What universal characteristics can you expect to see in one? And which are the best films in the genre for having a girls’ night in?
What Is a Chick Flick?
Coined by Brian Callaghan in Montreal, Canada in the mid-1970s, the term “chick flick” did not really enter mainstream media until the 1980s or 1990s. A chick flick refers to a film written for females and featuring themes Hollywood thinks they want to see like respect, compassion and love. This genre is also cheekily known as “guy cry” because men often roll their eyes at these films and find the tropes boring. But that’s why we have this genre. For those of us without sisters, we have films who understand our deepest desires and allow us to fantasize about what could be every once in a while when we are feeling down.
Characteristics of a Chick Flick
You can identify a chick flick’s poster easily. It will invariably contain pink, colorful and fancy letters, the female protagonist in the foreground and the male love interest in the background. As for the films themselves, they all have a female protagonist embroiled in conflict, fighting through a struggle in their lives. They have a characteristically flawed male love interest. All chick flicks have a happy ending, often with the strong, independent female lead rebuffing the advances of the love interest in favor of self-empowerment and personal redemption.
10 Best Chick Flicks for Girl’s Night
Sometimes we just want to hang out with our girlfriends and have a quiet night in watching chick flicks. But what are the best ones to watch? Here we review the top 10 chick flicks to watch for a girls’ night in.
In this 2010 chick flick, Emma Stone plays Olive, a clean-cut virgin who tells a little white lie about her virginity. Marianne, played by a fantastic Amanda Bynes, overhears this lie. Like the busybody she is, she starts a rumor that spreads like wildfire that Olive is sleeping with one of her teachers in exchange for her good grades. The poster is not entirely typical of chick flicks, but the movie certainly is. The conflict is her image being destroyed and the resolution, well, we’ll let you watch the movie for yourself for that.
This 2001 “Rom Com”, or romantic comedy, is a chick flick to a tee. Even the movie poster has varying tones of pink and the female main character Elle Woods in the foreground. Reese Witherspoon stars as Elle Woods who wants nothing more than to marry the love of her life. As fate would have it, he thinks she is too blonde for him, so she goes to Harvard to win him back.
In this 2015 film, Cara Delevingne plays the strong, popular high-schooler Margo. She is the love interest of socially awkward, shy and quiet Quentin played brilliantly by Nat Wolff. The movie starts off with her recruiting him to play pranks on fellow students who did her wrong, but it develops into a smart, emotional movie. Margo goes missing and Quentin has to recruit the help of some friends to follow clues she left behind to find her. If you thought The Fault In Our Stars was too emotional and heavy, you will love this film.
13 Going on 30
Christa B. Allen and Jennifer Gardner play Jenna in this 2004 chick flick. She struggles with the social structures of junior high and wishes she could be a well-adjusted adult with a boyfriend. The day after her thirteenth birthday, she finds her wish has come true, but adulthood comes with its own set of challenges. The poster is quintessential of chick flicks, featuring Jennifer Gardner in a pink dress with a pink handbag and the title of the film in girly font.
She’s the Man
Starring Amanda Bynes at her finest, “She’s the Man” is a story about a girl, Viola, who wants to pose as her twin brother Sebastian to go to a boarding school. In typical love triangle fashion, she falls in love with her new roommate Duke, who in turn has fallen for the beautiful Olivia who is in love with Sebastian. To complicate things further, Viola has no idea her twin has arrived from England early not knowing she has replaced him on campus.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
This 2005 film starring Blake Lively, America Ferrera, Alexis Bledel and Amber Tamblyn tells the story of four best friends from Maryland who have been inseparable for years. One summer, they find themselves parting ways. Bridget, played by Blake Lively, is going to Mexico, Carmen, played by America Ferrera, is going to Greece to visit her family and Lena and Tibby are holding down the fort back home. The first cinematic installment of this novel to film tale shows how the four best friends stay connected by sharing a pair of jeans that fits all of them like a glove and symbolizes their tight bond that cannot be broken by distance.
Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan play very well off of each other in this 2003 movie. Mother and daughter Tess and Anna Coleman switch bodies after receiving a cryptic fortune in a fortune cookie at a Chinese restaurant. What ensues is not just hilarity, but also a thought-provoking, heartwarming tale of understanding across generations.
The poster for this 2004 chick flick includes pretty pink lettering and Lindsay Lohan in the foreground and a pink background including the conflict of the film, “the Plastics.” Lohan plays Cady Heron, a teen educated in Africa, flung into suburban Illinois to experience high school. While she finds herself in the good graces of this tight-knit clique, she soon discovers how these flighty high schoolers have earned their nickname.
FBI Agent Grace Hart, played by Sandra Bullock, took an oath to serve and protect the Constitution from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. What she didn’t realize when she took this oath was that would include posing as a Miss America pageant contestant when the FBI received a credible threat that the event would be bombed. While she looks the part, she lacks the femininity and grace to pull it off – or does she? Hilarity ensues as this tomboy tries to fake her way through the competition and save the girls from an untimely demise. Even the poster screams chick flick with its pink dress and girly font.
Starring Alexa Vega, Sleepover is another 2004 chick flick that captures the hearts, minds and imaginations of young women everywhere. On the last night of 8th grade, Julie hosts a slumber party with her mom stating the number one rule was “do not leave the house.” But the girls have to beat the popular kids in a scavenger hunt across town to win the coveted lunch spot for their freshman year of high school. Shedding their nerdy reputations, the girls steal cars, boys’ underwear and maybe even a heart or two in this fun-filled adventure that will leave you wondering, “what would I do in that situation?”
Whether you’ve had a bad week at work, you are going through a bad breakup or you just want to reminisce with your high school friends, sometimes all you need is a bottle of wine, popcorn and a few of the best chick flicks to throw a girls night to remember. Chick flicks were designed with a female audience in mind, and they hit all the keynotes women want to see in a film. They feature a strong female protagonist, embroiled in conflict, usually including a characteristically flawed male love interest, but always conclude with a happy ending.
After watching dozens of films to find our top picks for the best chick flicks to watch on a girls’ night in, we discovered the best ones come from the early 2000s. We recommend watching Legally Blonde or Miss Congeniality. If you want a long marathon, go with the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants movie and its sequels. If you only want to watch several stand-alone films, go with classics such as Paper Towns, 13 Going on 30, Easy A and She’s the Man.
Whatever you pick, you can’t go wrong with a bottle of wine, your best friends and a night in full of laughter, tears and thought-provoking films that will let your imagination run wild as you fantasize about what could be if your life were a fairy tale.