5 Best Chick Flicks Of 201631.12.16 # Chick Flicks # No Comment
Let’s take a look at the best chick flicks of 2016. I watched these, and others that didn’t chart, with female company to ensure the accuracy of reporting. A chick flick is one that appeals to young women, or the young at heart. Usually it indulges in hopes and dreams, and has a fuzzy, happy ending. We’re broadening it a little to include other titles with a strong femme appeal. These are the 2016 chick flicks worth your consideration…
5th = HOW TO BE SINGLE
Four single ladies in New York navigate the modern dating scene. The most nervous (Dakota Johnson, ’50 Shades of Grey’), who’s on a temporary split from her boyfriend, is taken under the wing of an experienced, boisterous new friend (Rebel Wilson, ‘Pitch Perfect’). Meanwhile her 40-something doctor sister (Leslie Mann) refuses to have a baby or any form of relationship, before she falls into dating a much younger man. Finally, a bar wifi thief (Alison Brie), looking for “The One” using dating sites, finds herself with the consequence-free barman… From the director of ‘Love, Rosie’. Dakota is the lead role, but it’s also a (disjointed) ensemble – Alison Brie’s role has no real connection to the others (she never shares a scene with them), and halfway through her perspective disappears, replaced by that of the easy-sex barman she bedded with. The movie’s best asset is that Dakota’s journey is unpredictable, and the message of her plotline (the importance of being single to find yourself) is a strong one, but it’s almost lost in the haze of familiar rom-com moments. The movie could have been bolder, more feminist and more distinct (and no less likeable) but the lead women are ultimately too clingy and needy of a man (they just take a bit longer to get there). The source novel was very different, focusing on a single 38-year-old book publicist who travels around the world to see how different cultures deal with single life. Truth and realism would have served the story well but instead it’s sometimes distractingly artificial, from Leslie Mann’s boyf’s totally cool reaction to finding out she’s pregnant to another man, to Dakota going to her recent ex’s Christmas party, to Rebel Wilson announcing she’s super rich and working at a paralegal firm for fun. ‘How To Be’ could have been a great ode to the benefits of being single (also not constantly chasing sex), but instead is basically just another passable, sometimes witty, forgettable rom-com where the destination is coupling-up.
5th = ME BEFORE YOU
A quirky English woman (Clarke, ‘Game of Thrones’), recently laid off from a village cake shop, is hired by v.rich parents to be an assistant for their recently paralysed son (Claflin, ‘Love, Rosie’). He’s extremely hostile at first, but gradually warms to her upbeat determination. Though they might fall in love, the spinal injury is a life sentence, so he may still end it all at a Swiss euthanasia clinic… Helmed by an acclaimed theater and TV director (‘The Hollow Crown’) from a script by the writing team behind ‘Fault In Our Stars’ and ‘500 Days Of Summer’, this is based on the well-reviewed Jo Jo Moyes’ weepie bestseller. The movie plays like ‘Cinderella’ meets ‘My Left Foot’ but does have a positive message at its core (more so her acceptance of him, than his acceptance of quadriplegia). It exists in a hyper reality where her middle-class sounding family are on the breadline, even though she has thousand of pounds worth of shoes in her room. And where he lives in a castle and has a private jet. It’s picturesque in an English postcard way. While she can come across as quite grating (especially the constantly upturned eyebrows), and his first scene in the wheelchair is fairly offensive, it does come together quite powerfully in the last 20 minutes when hard, impactful decisions have to be made.
4th = HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS
A self-help seminar inspires an eccentric sixty-something woman (Sally Field) to romantically pursue her handsome co-worker (Max Greenfield, TV’s ‘New Girl’), who’s half her age. A skilled manipulator of situations, her journey of (hopeful) seduction will take her to hip music venues, house parties, introduce her to new lingo, have her create a fake Facebook account, and force her to examine where she is in her life… Sally Field (a two-time best actress Oscar-winner in the 80s) gives a funny and vulnerable performance, from the humiliation of the daffy type attempting to woo a gorgeous man, to being a hoarder grieving about her recently deceased mother. Showing an older woman lusting after a much younger man is a relationship hardly depicted on screen and it’s easy to get wrapped up in the cringeworthy yet sweetly optimistic efforts, to where her finger hanging over the post button on a Facebook message provides some of the high drama of the year. As well as being wryly, uncomfortably funny, it goes to some dark and sad places, and certainly it would have had a more broad appeal if it had not also made her a bit nuts and depressed. But it’s a fuller character study as a result.
4th = THE MEDDLER
An overbearing mom (Susan Sarandon) moves to L.A. from New Jersey to be in her daughter’s life (Rose Byrne). She’s loving and caring but doesn’t realise when she’s overstepping boundaries, be it indiscreet open conversations about her daughter’s romantic strife or checking her daughter’s browsing history, it’s all because she wants to help. But when daughter takes a job elsewhere, she’s left to channel her foreful generosity into changing the lives of others and must come to terms with her husband’s passing… The writer-director helmed ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ and adapted ‘Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist’. For the first 25 minutes in particular this is an extremely well observed film (no doubt heavily based off the author’s parent). It’s not crass, over the top, or swinging for big laughs (see next year’s mother-daughter caper ‘Snatched’ for that), instead it’s subtly amusing, nailing the universal traits of most older moms. Then the daughter exits for New York and it goes a bit overboard as mom offers to pay for a near-stranger’s wedding and starts driving an apple store employee to night school. The romance with J.K. Simmons also moves center stage, and his wooing means her ‘meddling’ gets lost. It should have stuck with the mother-daughter relationship throughout, as that’s gold.
3rd – MAGGIE’S PLAN
30-something Maggie (Greta Gerwig) has a plan: to become a single mom through a sperm donation from an old pal turned pickle-salesman (Travis Fimmel). But midway through the process she falls for an academic turned wannabe novelist (Ethan Hawke) whose marriage to a stern intellectual (Julianne Moore) is in crisis. Three years on and one child later, Maggie realises he’s a self-absorbed bore, and hatches another plan: to get him back together with his ex-wife… Indie from the director of 2005’s ‘Ballad of Jack and Rose’ and 2009’s ‘Private Lives of Pippa Lee’. ‘Maggie’s Plan’ is well observed, with a believable performance from Gerwig. The humour is dry and subtle, doing a particularly nice job of mocking academic pretentiousness through strong work by Hawke and Moore. It doesn’t have the romantic-comedy excitement of your favourites getting together – By the end everyone feels somewhat selfish, flawed, and unsympathetic. But the point is to take a unique and interesting relationship journey where the protagonist is actually trying to undo her own relationship in the best interest of everyone.
2nd – BRIDGET JONES’S BABY
British TV news producer Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) has entered her 40s. After hooking up with a dating site millionaire (Patrick Dempsey) at a music festival, she reconnects with Mr.Darcy (Colin Firth) at Cleaver’s funeral. Soon she is pregnant but doesn’t know who the father is or even who she would prefer it to be… The director of the first movie, who didn’t helm the disappointing ‘Edge of Reason’, returns. Zellweger didn’t gain weight this time but the character’s age is the new insecurity so that works fine. Zellweger was Oscar-nominated for Best Actress for the first film and here she proves more likeable than ever. Yes she is a surprisingly fertile 43 year old, conceiving after a single night with two men in their 50s. Yes Hugh Grant’s exit is clunky. Yes it all should have been made 10 years ago, but this is a thoroughly charming movie. Production company Working Title made ‘Four Weddings’ and remain the masters of romanticised middle-class witty antics. Grant isn’t particularly missed since Dempsey does well as the free, spiritual counterbalance to straight-laced Firth and makes Bridget’s decision an intriguingly difficult one. Emma Thompson is a mini-stand out as Bridget’s matter-of-fact doctor.
1st – LA LA LAND
A song-and-dance romance about a pair of dreamers – a cocky yet charismatic jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling) and an aspiring actress who’s desperate to fit in (Emma Stone) – who fall in love in modern day L.A. However the city that brought them together may tear them apart, as they soon discover that balancing love and art in such a cutthroat climate isn’t easy… This ode to old Hollywood has received a record 14 Oscars nominations (equalling ‘Titanic’), including Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and two noms for Original Song (“Audition” and “City of Stars”). It won in every category nominated at the Golden Globes. And (unlike previous musicals like, say, ‘Chicago’) this one deserves the hype. It romaticises the underbelly of Hollywood brilliantly, swelling the heart, inspiring, and conveying the crushing pains of two people reaching for the near-impossible. Stone is at her most expressive and Gosling is pure film star, displaying a chemistry together they have been fine-tuning over three films now (in the same way the likes of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire used to pair regularly). The songs are memorable, sometimes raw, and never outstay their welcome, even for someone who’s no big fan of musicals. The camerawork is strikingly inventive and confident, painting beautiful flight-of-fancy tapestries, and taking in entire scene-and-dance sequences in brilliant one-shot setups. With writer-director Damien Chazelle’s (‘Whiplash’) musical background this is as much a passionate love letter to jazz as much as it is to film, and at the close stands as a tribute to artistic ambition of any kind.
The Choice, Edge Of Seventeen, Bad Moms, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, Southside With You, The Light Between Oceans, Passengers