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What Makes a “Chick Movie?”

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While I will be the first to admit to the strangeness of the inquiry, particularly from a guy, I can only say that I ask the question only after my personal research failed to produce a definitive answer. The question is, simply enough, what are the shared qualities of a “chick movie?” Are there certain characteristics or common threads that distinguish movies that appeal, almost completely, to the feminine viewer?

I know there must be, before I ask, because there are some movies that are only viewed by men when required by their significant other. [There are, it goes without saying, certain benefits that, the man hopes, might befall the man after paying these sorts of “dues.” However, these are not the subject of this discussion.] I speak of movies that men never talk about (or even admit to actually seeing) with other men but, after their initial viewing, are the topic of female discourse for weeks afterwards. I ask about movies that women take other women to see as a group experience. Movies that women often view multiple times and keep count.

I have spent the past week or so investigating the question from a guy’s point of view. It seems there are common themes that make a movie a “chick flick.” My viewing consisted of several movies that I, from past experience, have come to think of as “chick flicks.” The specimens, certainly not inclusive, I chose to specifically name include:

Steel Magnolias (1989)
Ghost (1990)
Pretty Woman (1990)
Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)
The Notebook (2004)

First, we have to propose some basic rule about what constitutes a “chick movie, hereafter to be denoted as “CM.” The assumption I offer are as follows:

Rule 1: There is no such thing as a sci-fi or horror CM. While fantasy can certainly be used in the storyline (see Ella Enchanted and Princess Bride (I and II), movies that are dominated by technology and, certainly, gore cannot be, by my definition, a CM.

Rule 2: A CM cannot earn the label if the female goes to the movie to see her favorite male star, regardless of the content of the movie. Undoubtedly, female fans of Brad Pitt sat through the interminal “Troy” because he was all muscled-up and showed lots of skin but “Troy” is not, for our purposes, a CM.

Rule 3: While ladies truly love a good romantic comedy, a true CM cannot be a full-on comedy. Take for example “How to Lose a Guy in 28 Days.” It fits many of the criteria of a CM (no guy would see it with a group of guys – unless they have a full-throttle Kate Hudson thing going, and no guy would certainly ever discuss the movie with other guys or admit to having seen it). The same may be said for Legally Blonde I and II. I do not, for my purposes, include these in my sample.

So, what are the characteristics of a CM?

1. The female lead must be a strong woman who faces adversity and overcomes it, usually by pure force of will. (Pretty Woman, et al.)
2. There most be significant tragedy (or tragedies) that the woman must overcome to reach her ultimately-stronger self. In its simplest form, someone has to die (Ghost), often the lead female, herself (e.g. Steel Magnolias). Pretty Woman is the exception that does not prove this rule.
3. There must an overwhelmingly-strong, idealized love interest, not necessarily of a male (et al.). I say not necessarily a man because the love interest in “Fried Green Tomatoes” is one, primarily, of female love – alright friendship – shared between Idgy (Mary Stuart Masterson) and Ruth (Mary-Louise Parker).
4. There may be no “guy violence.” That is, there is no graphic, prolonged war violence. Glimpses of war (The Notebook) are permissable. Fisticuffs between alpha males is allowed but they are not drawn-out, slow-motion, blood-flying-through-the-air visuals.
5. There must be at least one (and, preferably, more) heart-wrenching moment when tears flow. The shedding of tears may be of sadness or elation, but there must be crying.

Before feminist readers begin their attack on this piece as a chauvinist exercise, let me clearly state it is not meant to be interpreted as such. It is a simple request for personal edification and for the female perspective on a topic about which I know (obviously) very little. It goes without saying that there are “guy flicks” (e.g. Braveheart, Gladiator, Goodfellas, ad infinitum) that one could similarly stereotype. This is an attempt to understand what makes a classic female-oriented movie. Feel free to add to my list of characteristics and correct me on which are wrong. In apology, I only offer that I find movies, in general, and the whole genre of “chick movies” (and “guy movies”), in particular, a fascinating subject.

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About Diet Doc

  • Nice – worthy of expansion into a much longer piece.

  • 1. no car chases
    2. nothing blows up
    3. dialog. lot’s of dialog.

    personally, i luv chic movies.

  • Eric Olsen

    relationships, feelings, can you picture it on Lifetime?

  • Eric Olsen

    oh, and most movies feature relationships and feelings, but if the expression and evocation of those things makes me say “ick,” it’s a chick flick

  • If the relationships and feelings are on display only just barely long enough to let you know who to root for when the gunfights, car chases, and explosions break out, it’s still a guy movie.

    (If you can’t tell which ones are the good guys; or, if you can, but the good guys all die anyway, the movie is probably from Hong Kong or Europe.)

  • There may be female nudity. The man’s secret rule to Chick Flicks is that they have better nudity than Guy Movies and it’s true. If you’re a guy, would you rather see Bruce Willis’s butt (in a Guy Movie) or Jennifer Jason Leigh’s (in a Chick Flick)?

  • Eric Olsen

    good point Brent, though I’m not sure I would pick JJL — talented though she may be — by way of illustration

  • I’ve got yer chick flick here: Beaches.

    Barbara Hershey dying elegantly, Bette Midler in a Madonna-pointy bra, two ladies with nothing in common but a childhood meeting on a beach in Atlantic City, Bette Midler in a bathrobe, brief appearances of men – rightfully ignored by the women – Lanie Kazan and Mayim Bialik; and Bette Midler in any scene…

    What’s not to love?

    [can you tell I like Bette Midler?]

  • Bette Midler needs to do some action movies if she wants to avoid being typecast.

  • Oh, I have to say that it’s “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”, not 28. That shows you how much I liked that movie…

    There’s a “Princess Bride 2” out? I think you might have that confused with the “Princess Diaries”.

  • Dietdoc surely put those in on purpose, Tan, just to see whether any guy would admit to knowing they were mistakes.

    How to Lose a Guy in 28 Days sounds like it could have terrific parody potential, though.

  • You’re right… and I fell for it. NOOOOO…

  • Nancy

    How odd that so far (until me) everyone commenting is male. Or that dietdoc would set such stringent rules. As a chick, I reserve the right to nominate some I consider chick flicks, whether you guys all agree or not:

    Thelma & Louise
    Sense & Sensibility
    Pride & Prejudice
    Lord of the Rings, I & III
    First Wives’ Club
    Death Becomes Her
    A Few Good Men
    4 Weddings & A Funeral
    Gone With The Wind
    Lion In Winter
    Indiana Jones 1 & 3
    Crocodile Dundee 1 & 2

    That’s MY chickflick list. A few are no-brainers (to me, that is): spectacular drama & the bonus of great costumes (GWTW, LOTR, Glory), others are just witty (Lion, AFGM, FWC, S&S, P&P) but with good tension, and some are just a damn good cry – Glory is one of the most kleenex-saturating films I’ve ever seen; the minute Morgan Freeman shows up on screen, I start to snivel. His final line to the kid starts everyone I know (including strong men) snivelling if not howling. Some show women ‘triumphing’ over men (T&L, FWC), but most end w/a happy compromise (S&S, P&P) & the ‘villains’ getting their comeuppance.

    Nudity is irrelevant, or I would have included films like Last of the Mohicans: the scenery was gorgeous; the trees weren’t bad, either. It’s a nice bonus, but it needn’t be the draw of the movie.

    Basically, I think my definition of a chickflick is a film that is well written, well acted, well directed, does not have a lot of gratuitous violence, but if violence is appropriate, at least lets not wallow in gore altho I don’t need it glossed over, either, has some wit, humor, and goes out of the ordinary as far as expected action. In AFGM, Demi does NOT fall in love with or have an affair with Tom. I loved that touch. Ditto Jones pulling out the gun and just blowing away the guy w/the scimitar instead of some crazy, drawn out, improbable duel. Costumes are a bonus. Lush scenery (aside from the male figure) & great cinematography to capture it is not an option.

    NOT my idea of chickflicks: overwhelming, mindless, gratuitous violence (Terminator1 & 2, altho watching Ahnuld was very nice), stupid or pointless plots, juvenile potty humor, bad writing, bad acting, no setting interest – movies taking place only endless warehouses are not generally interesting to me, nor, I think, most women; infatuation w/weapons, the bigger the better (see ‘violence’ above), cars (ditto), or explosions – altho they can also be fun, but a movie of nothing but gets VERY old very fast, for me. It goes w/out saying that I get very bored w/lots of T&A jiggling around. Sorry, wrong religion, altho seeing a gorgeous woman in lovely clothes or appropriately nude is nice. The key word to avoidance in chickflicks I think, is GRATUITOUS: if it supports or is intrinsic/appropriate to the movie & plot, fine; if not, it’s dreck, get rid of it.

    Hope that helps.

  • nancy says: How odd that so far (until me) everyone commenting is male

    isn’t that because ‘chick flick’ is a sorta pejorative term lobbed at movie genres by guys?

  • Nancy

    Only if I let it be. 😉

  • Nancy, hey, you’re basically claiming any movie that is good is a chick flick. So all bad movies are guy flicks then?

  • Nancy

    I didn’t say that… …but if the uzi fits ….

  • With all due respect, Nancy, some of the films you list don’t fit the strict definition of a “chick flick” because they are movies guys can also enjoy without embarrassment.

    By definition, a “chick flick” is one a guy either cannot stand to watch, or cannot admit to liking within earshot of other guys unless he’s willing to put up with merciless ribbing from them.

    Movies that can be equally enjoyed by women and men together are something else, not “chick flicks.”

  • Nancy

    I’m a chick. Those are my flicks. Guys have no monopoly on good action films.

  • Nobody claimed guys had a monopoly on action films.

  • Nancy

    Just by way of a side comment, there are some movies that fit your definition of chickflick that make ME (& my female friends) cringe, too. I think a bathetic (not pathetic, Bathetic) movie repels everyone regardless of gender.

  • Tristan

    by WHOOSE “definition Victor ~~???
    Are YOU the established “Authority” now on Definitions as WELL as Conclusions …???

    Heh ……heh ……..

    (some people are sooooo serious they just haven’t a clue that they are being played with ………) ………..

  • I agree with Crocodile Dundee 1 & 2 being chick flicks.

  • Tristan

    and in honor of fair coverage for all~~~~

    what are the fav Dick Fliks ….??
    (the opposing diametric of chik fliks, eh…)

  • Nancy

    Well, kinda the point I was trying to make.

    BTW – where are all the other ‘chicks’? Huccome no one else of the femme persuasion is blogging this? I am, after all, just one chick. I may be an anomaly.

  • Nancy, are you offended by the term “chick flick”? It seems to me that you are missing the original question that dietdoc asked. It’s not asking what movies a “chick” likes. It’s asking, what movies do “chicks” like that no guy likes (or admits to liking)?

  • Oh and of course there are movies that both genders like, but I don’t think anyone can deny that there are movies that, in general, appeal to one gender and repulses the other.

  • Somebody goes to those hankie-wringers, Nancy – and from your list, I’d say only Thelma & Louise and Whalerider automatically qualify as non-guy movies. (I use that term instead of “chick flick,” because it may make the distinction clearer.)

    May be non-guy movies: Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, and Lion In Winter. Although they might admit seeing them, few guys would want to discuss them over a beer at the barbeque.

    First Wives’ Club, 4 Weddings & A Funeral and Death Becomes Her are right on the edge, but because they’re comedies, it’s considered OK for a guy to admit seeing them.

    No way you can put any of the rest (well, maybe Gone With the Wind) into the chick-flick category. You’ll have to share!

  • Nancy

    Offended, ‘visual’? Good lord, no! It’s just on mulling it over while reading the thread, I considered that a lot of what I like – and my femme friends – don’t really fit in that category. I loved Pirates Of The Caribbean, too (my niece & sister in law turned me on to it; it’s their fave), & I’ll bet that can’t fit into the dietdoc specs! Chick flicks… as far as I can tell, what dietdoc is thinking of are the old 1940s movies like Back Street & Stella Somebody-or-other. I don’t even KNOW any women of any age who watch those. Girls/women have changed a lot in their psyches in 60 years. Just check the violent crime rates. Methinks it’s a cultural thing – altho there’s a good article in May’s Scientific American about male vs female brains.

  • I don’t especially like the practice of labeling some movies as “chick material,” but I recognize the term has a generally accepted meaning.

    There are some guys who enjoy “chick movies” and there are some women who choose to watch movies with lots of car chases and gunfights. These examples do not change the concept.

    They merely prove the concept has limited power to predict what any particular individual woman or man will like.

  • Nancy

    I really don’t want this to become acrimonious/serious. It’s a fun subject & comments. I want to hear from other chicks! Maybe I’m weird.

  • Dick-flick (and what a great term that is!): The most emotional scene (MOS) involves a car, an explosion, or a weapon. (Really great DFs have MOSes that involve all three…)

    Chick-flick: The MOS involves death or abandonment.

    Dick-flick: The main female character (if there even is one) is young, buxom, and scantily clad. Her clothing will be strategically torn in at least one scene.

    Chick-flick: The main female character(s) may appear without makeup, in ugly clothes, or even caked with mud. (See The Color Purple, a quintessential chick-flick.) A cosmetic or clothing makeover will be a significant plot-point.

    Dick-flick: You know the central problem of the story is solved when the villian is dead and bleeding on the floor.

    Chick-flick: You know the central problem of the story is solved when the used Kleenex pile is higher than your ankles.

    Dick-flick: The male main character will not appear in Spandex or wear mascara.

    Chick-flick: The main character will not be male. Period.

    Dick-flick: Bring your ear-plugs.

    Chick-flick: Bring your hanky.

  • Awesome!

  • JR

    Dick-flick: The male main character will not appear in Spandex or wear mascara.

    What about Tango and Cash? Or is that exempt by virtue of being a buddy flick and therefore technically not having a sole male main character?

  • Action films may not necessarily be dick-flicks. Stallone in Spandex? Not a dick-flick (especially since he confesses to missing his wardrobe…)

  • Nancy

    What about one of my faves I forgot when I was making my list: To Wong Foo?! ALL the male leads wear mascara & spandex!

  • Alright, I’m going to have to say that what makes a movie a “chick flick” or a “dick flick” is tough to define, but like what constitutes pornography, I’ll know it when I see it.

    Here’s a list with a short pattern that I would consider “chick flicks”:

    Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
    Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

    I haven’t seen any of those and don’t care to because they seem sort of “chick” flickish to me. Although I am tempted to try to watch Traveling Pants only because Amber Tamblyn has dared any man to watch it and not shed a tear.

  • Dick-flick: The male main character will not appear in Spandex or wear mascara.

    And what about those superhero movies?

  • Nancy, you seem to be aggressively missing the point: dick-flicks and chick-flicks are two diametrically-opposed categories. To Wong Fu is not a chick-flick, because it’s a comedy – but it sure comes close.

    It absolutely, positively, without question, could never be slotted into the dick-flick criteria. (See the list above. Stockard Channing is the hottest woman in the movie, and she appears in the first half in a shapeless sack of a house-dress.)

    I think many females cannot identify chick-clicks, because the primary parameter (no guy would be found dead watching it, except to qualify for some nookie later) isn’t one that all women will be able to spot.

  • Nancy: Thanks for the input. I, also, lament the lack of female input, save your very, very appreciated insights. Your vision was what I was actually seeking. Thank you again for taking the time to edify we men, Wish we had a way for you to recruit some other regular ladies on BC for their comments!

    DrPat: A perfect classification scheme! You seem to have the idea framed perfectly.

    I was wondering when someone would mention Ya-Ya Sisterhood! (grin) The ladies in my office definitely did the group-thing with that one. They also, to this day, talk about Dirty Dancing but I have never seen (nor intend to see) that one.

    Nancy (or anyone): Would Casablanca be a CM or a DM or mixed? I personally loved it but, other than a couple lame shootings, it was 96% a romance. Anyway, I do wish someone would join the brave Nancy from the feminist viewpoint!

    Thanks to all. I have already learned a great deal, as I always do when I ask for opinions in this august company.



  • Nancy

    Dietdoc – flattery will get you just about anywhere. Casablanca? Gotta be a chickflick. At least, I never hear any guys I know mention it. DrPat, not aggressively missing any points, because I’m not sure what points are being made, except that the classic definition chickflicks are passe. For some reason, Judy Garland films are beloved by some of the gay community, but I don’t think that qualifies. I never could stand her myself. Haven’t seen either Pants or YaYas yet, and probably won’t, either. Like I said, I may be an oddity in this regard. I admit it. But, DrPat, I do insist, that being a chick, those are my flicks.

    BTW, all the big, burly guys at my volunteer firehouse are addicted to the daytime soaps. What does that say about dickflicks vs chickflicks, even tho they’re TV & not films?

  • Ron, guys are willing to watch a movie with Humphrey Bogart in it because he was Sam Spade. He gets to fly on that for a long way. So Casablanca isn’t a chick-flick.

    But it isn’t a dick-flick, either, because it is 96% romance. So it falls in the great middle.

    Fast and Furious
    Gone in Sixty Seconds
    Adrenaline: Fear the Rush (Check out the review, pure DF!)
    Con Air

  • Shark

    re: Comment 32 by DrPat – there are development people in Hollywood who’d get quite a paycheck to produce such a list.

    Your talent is wasted.

    …Or at least pilfered now… due to copyright issues.

    I’ll write from LA!


  • Nancy, you can be a chick, and still miss the point. Chick-flicks are not movies that “chicks” like, they are movies that (according to the great unwashed male masses) only chicks should like.

    If you’re a chick and you like a movie, it might be a chick-flick. If you can’t find a guy to go to it with you, for love or money, and the response of all the guys you ask is “[expletive of choice] NO!” – it probably is a chick-flick.

    I have to say, having said all this, that I am a sensitive viewer, and have sat through Beaches, Ghost and Pretty Woman. I’ve even watched both innings of Legally Blonde. I do have daughters, after all…

    But overall, I’d rather watch Hunt for Red October. Not a dick-flick, but damn close – you only need one hand to count the women in that movie. The MOS is either a male chorus underwater or the scene where Jack Ryan diffuses the tension by bumming a cigarette. Classic!

  • Nancy Writes: “For some reason, Judy Garland films are beloved by some of the gay community, but I don’t think that qualifies.

    Reply: Also, I am superficially aware that Barbara Streisand movies are also big with that group. Hopefully, not Yentil – with any group. I suspect this is more for her support of gay right and AIDS research than actual movie content.

    I really wish I could have titled (or better written) this in such a way that we would have more feminine input. But – donning my Sir Walter Raleigh cloak – Nancy has done a fine job “representing.”



  • ok…fascinating Thread

    i do feel most romantic comedies fall into the “chick flick” category…such as Hugh Grant fils ( 4 weddings, etc)…His Girl Friday ( classic Cary Grant..some of the best dialogue ever)

    here’s one i woudl like to see the “panel” define..

    “Eyes Wide Shut” …chick or dick?



  • Half and half… all the talking is chick stuff, and all the nudity is dick stuff.

  • Who/What got blown up in Eyes Wide Shut? (I haven’t seen it.)

    But if the answer is “nobody/nothing,” how could it be a dick-flick? And I don’t think any movie can be half-and-half, Tan, so if there’s any admixture of appeals, it isn’t either.

  • CrPat…go out and rent this flick..Kubrick’s last film, and some very nice shots of Nicole Kidman (drool)

    and Tan..not only guys liked the “masked” scenes..i know anytime we watch it, my wife is much more “aroused” than i am


  • ooops..i meant DrPat, of course..my apologies for the spelling error

    mea culpa…


  • On the other hand, Tom Cruise nude would be a real turn-off – that’s why I’ve never watched it.

    And you didn’t answer the explosion question – in a dick-flick, y’know, you don’t care about the jealousy, sexual exploration, nudity (even Kidman) – unless there’s some fireworks!!

  • nope, no explosions, no guns at all

    it was all about plot and dialogue

    but i don’t think explosions are a defining issue, myself…definately an indicator , granted


  • Hmmm… Lessee, no guns or explosions, nudity of a male icon who “explores his sexuality”… probably not a dick-flick.

    Rule 2 from the post (rememeber the post?): A CM cannot earn the label if the female goes to the movie to see her favorite male star, regardless of the content of the movie… So, probably not a chick-flick either.

    The list of movies that fall in the middle is VAST, HUGE, MEGALITHIC!! You’ll THRILL… Sorry, channeling Cecil B. there for a second.

    So, let’s have a quiz. In which of three categories do the following belong (DF, CF, or VM – Vast Middle):

    Princess Bride
    Night of the Living Dead
    Soylent Green
    Light in the Piazza
    Demolition Man
    Smokey and the Bandit
    Pitch Black
    Bridges at Toko-Ri
    I Spit on Your Grave
    October Sky
    In Cold Blood
    The English Patient

    Crib sheets allowed – I find IMdb an excellent resource.

  • corrrection here DrPat…no Tomkat nudity..some good shots of Nicole, and others in certani “masked” scenes…

    see the flick..it’s worth it

    as for your list

    english Patient for “CM”

    the rest seem vast middle, with some of them unseen by your humble Narrator


  • As with any quiz, please show your work. [grin]

    I really would like to hear back from a few more folks – Nancy and other gals especially. We might see a pattern develop.

    So, please, Gonzo, do the whole list – just indicate the ones you have never seen.

  • dreck..hoist by my own petard…

    as you Wish, DrPat

    Princess Bride – VM
    Night of the Living Dead – DF
    Soylent Green – VM
    Light in the Piazza – not seen
    Demolition Man – DF
    Smokey and the Bandit – VM with DF leanings
    Feds – not seen
    Pitch Black – DF
    Moonstruck – CF
    Bridges at Toko-Ri – VM
    I Spit on Your Grave – not seen
    October Sky – not seen
    In Cold Blood – not seen
    The English Patient – CF
    Platoon – DF

    just my Opinions there, based on the criteria above

    how’s that?


  • bhw, Lisa, Patfish, Barbara, Justene, Natalie…

    We need the ladies’ opinions here!

  • Princess Bride – CF
    Night of the Living Dead – DF
    Soylent Green – DF
    Light in the Piazza – No Clue
    Demolition Man – DF (with oak leaf cluser)
    Smokey and the Bandit – DF (with two oak leaf cluster)
    Feds – CF
    Pitch Black -DF
    Moonstruck – CF
    Bridges at Toko-Ri -DF
    I Spit on Your Grave – No Clue
    October Sky – VMF
    In Cold Blood – DF (could we call this a “buddy film?”) (knowing wink)
    The English Patient – CF
    Platoon – DF (three oak leaf clusters)

  • dietdoc

    Where oh where, have the women gone,
    Long time passing.
    Where oh where have the women gone,
    Commenting on this thread?
    Where oh where have the women gone?
    Gone to email, everyone.

    When will there ‘ere return?
    When will they ‘ere return?


  • Joan? Loretta? swingingpuss? Violet? Margaret? Miriam?

  • “and Tan..not only guys liked the “masked” scenes..i know anytime we watch it, my wife is much more “aroused” than i am”

    Hah. You mean they actually told you they were aroused. Lucky. All the girls I know say they hate it. I must look through their DVD collections and see if they have it…

  • Okay, here’s a woman’s opinion – and I’m a huge movie buff, for what it’s worth.

    First of all, I think dietdoc hit the nail right on the head with his definition of a chick flick. Having said that, I wouldn’t (generally) watch a chick flick with a gun to my head – I *loathe* them. I think they appeal to the same women who watch Lifetime and read romance novels – I’m not putting those down as choices, but they’re definitely not my taste, and I suspect that the women who watch chick flicks also do not, as a rule, watch a *lot* of movies.

    So what do chicks watch when they don’t watch chick flicks? My tastes cross a lot of different genres. I’ll watch some (but not all) action flicks with my husband. He’s also a science fiction fan, so I’ll watch that with him from time to time. He, in turn, will watch a Merchant-Ivory film with me, although he did fall asleep during Howard’s End (it’s one of my favorite films of all time). I love The Godfather. I love Airplane. I love Woody Allen. I love Scorsese. I’ll watch Anthony Hopkins in almost anything. I love the Marx Brothers. My husband is building a complete Hitchcock collection, and I love those, too. We both like old movies from the ’30s and ’40s, and he collects classic 1950s sci-fi films, which I enjoy watching. I love the Evil Dead movies. We’re collecting the Universal Studios boxed sets of classic horror films (as an aside, I will offer Frank Langella’s portrayal of Dracula as a horror film that violates dietdoc’s rule about there being no horror chick flicks). I like a lot of the current crop of indie films. We have a very active Netflix account, and I’m always finding something new to watch. Our son is a film student, and he’s been broadening my tastes even further by exposing me to films I might not have gravitated to on my own. I don’t like graphic violence all that much, or movies with rape scenes, or torture scenes, but there are exceptions to those things, too.

    Good post, dietdoc, and a good conversation all the way around, I’d say.

  • Nancy

    Oooooo…I forgot about Langella’s Dracula! Yeah, definitely a chickhorrorflick.
    Princess Bride – CF, but open ended to VM
    Soylent Green – VM
    Smokey – DF
    Moonstruck – CF
    Bridges – VM
    Cold Blood – VM
    Platoon – DF

    Haven’t seen the rest, so I couldn’t validly comment. Gotta say one of my faves I left out (I do have a lot, don’t I?) is The Great Escape. It could be argued it’s a DF, but I would put it in the VM category.

    I love anything w/Alan Rickman – even Harry Potters; ditto Hopkins, brilliant in just about anything he does. Ditto Daniel Day-Lewis. Nice to look at, too.
    Ditto on what Lisa said: an awful lot of what DrPat qualifies as chickflicks I wouldn’t be caught dead watching, either. Have never seen Fried Green, or the latter half of Steel Magnolias, or Color Purple. Can’t stand anything w/Bogart or Bergman, simply because I consider their acting talent to be nil. I’m always aware they’re Bogart or Bergman playing the role of B or B in a role.

    On the other hand, stuff w/a lot of dialogue isn’t necessarily CF; what about A Few Good Men? Almost nothing BUT dialogue; but ripping GOOD dialogue. I adore watching Jack Nicholson chewing up the scenery in that one, just like I love to watch Rickman chewing the scenery and incidentally pulling Robin Hood out of the fire.

    I really hate to say this, but I have to conclude it’s true: DFs are (not necessarily but they tend to be) dumber, lots more violent, and more weapon/vehicle/chase/explosions oriented than CFs, and they don’t have a whole lot of plot, frequently, either. Sorry, guys. Hmmm…instead of ‘dumber’, maybe a better word would be more ‘simplistic’? Less plot complications or convolutions? But that’s not true of quite a few DFs I could think of, either. Thanks, Lisa. C’MON – MORE WOMEN COMMENT; AM I ALONE OUT HERE?!

  • I will confess to having seen Dracula two or three times in the theater when it was released, and many times on TV since. Big crush on Langella.

    And I forgot to take DrPat’s quiz! So here are my votes:

    Princess Bride – VM
    Night of the Living Dead – DF
    Soylent Green – VM
    Light in the Piazza – CF
    Demolition Man – DF
    Smokey and the Bandit – DF
    Feds – haven’t seen it
    Pitch Black – DF
    Moonstruck – VM
    Bridges at Toko-Ri – VM
    I Spit on Your Grave – haven’t seen it
    October Sky – VM
    In Cold Blood – VM
    The English Patient – haven’t seen it
    Platoon – VM

  • A “chick flick” has at least one depiction of a man they wish most could be like – or at least one they could meet.

    And – but rarely at the same time – a strong female character.

    Other than that I always thought of “chick flick” as slightly derogatory because it narrows down the idea that women like a 360-degree range of movies. But as generally understood – yes there are movies that just bore me to tears and they are the manliest of films (Priscilla Queen of the Desert fer instance) and the sloppiest of goo – um, um, ….

  • dietdoc

    Huzzah! The women have landed! And what great opinions and insights! My quest is successful. Thanks you ladies, and gents.

    Temple writes: “A “chick flick” has at least one depiction of a man they wish most could be like – or at least one they could meet. And – but rarely at the same time – a strong female character.”

    Reply: Rarely a strong female character? I agree with the “idealized” love or love interest but I think a strong female – usually overcoming difficult odds – is almost essential.



  • Nancy

    LOL…Temple, you’re putting your foot in it! Like the trailoff….

    I think a liking or even tolerance for sloppy goo has a very limited appeal, admittedly to women of a certain taste, usually those that also love Betty Neals, Barbara Cartland, and similar books. Not even just romance novels, but ICKY romance novels. My ex-roomie wallows in them, and also loves drippy romance movies that gag me. How we’re still friends I can’t figure, but so we are. She tolerates my love for classical & historical stuff (Vanity Fair, Master & Commander). The more I think about it, the more I really do think the classically-defined chickflick really doesn’t have much audience any more, being limited to Bergman filmfests, etc.

  • dee

    I am a chick who does not like most chick flicks…okay, Ghost is one of the exceptions. I like action flicks. I like the bloody gorey murder stories but I do not like those who are just for he gore…Halloween and such. Ones like The Ring and Thirteen ghosts are on my list too. I think that chick flicks are slowly losing in popularity.

  • Dee writes: “I think that chick flicks are slowly losing in popularity.

    Reply: You may very well be right! Notice the dates of the first 4 movies I listed – circa 1990. It would appear that the classic CM peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s and have been replaced by the VM and even in your case, the “classic” DM. It is truly an interesting genre to exlore and, thanks to you all, discuss.



  • Shark

    Possible scenario for a future chick-flick:

    A rich, handsome gay man finds out he has a terminal illness; he is ‘converted’ to heterosexual by an ‘experience’ with a beautiful nurse, who, btw, also discovers he’s been misdiagnosed and will continue to live. They make-out in the final scene — as he crawls from an open grave and kisses her before watching a Baywatch rerun on TV. He gets a boner AND cries at the tragic finale of that episode. (a baby seal is hit by a speed boat and dies in Carmen Electra’s arms)

    Final line:

    ex-gay Hero: “I’m cured!”


    PS: Lifetime Network execs: CALL ME!

  • Shark, my good fellow, can we not be more creative than that? First, it involves too many sociopolitical/religious issues. We must be more specific with the simple issue of love. Love that conquers all, love that lasts, love that…well…is!

    All these peripheral points and issues simply cluter the screenplay. Perhaps, simply a lone crusader against the seal-clubbing villains…living out of an igloo in the frozen north….when, a deadly plane crash occurs near his camp. The only survivor is a beautiful, wealthy lady. He nurses her to health (in between fighting off the poachers) and he learns (flash-back style) or her life in her ramblings as she lapses back and forth into consciousness. He has been alone for months, fighting the cruel elements and poachers, all alone. Did I mention he has been alone?

    She wakes up and the first question she asks is: “Did you ravish me?”

    The story of love grows from there and she joins in his cause…yada yada yada.

    I must admit, I do like the baby seal/Carmen Electra touch, though.



  • Thanks to all who had the courage to take the quiz. Now some answers:

    Princess Bride: VM – The story is told to appeal to a ten-year-old boy. Cannot be a chick-flick, despite the romantic center.

    Night of the Living Dead
    : DF – I would argue that most B-movie horror and cult horror films are dick-flicks. The purpose is to raise the adrenaline levels and arouse the viewer. Put American Werewolf in London in this category, too.

    Soylent Green: VM – Yes, it’s devoid of significant female characters. Nevertheless, the action and horror are too cerebral for a dick-flick. Many SF movies fall into the vast middle fason.

    Light in the Piazza: CF – It’s a classic that’s being revamped for Broadway, the story of a woman who takes her brain-damaged child to Florence to keep her from smooching the delivery boy, only to have be wooed by a rich Italian boy. Pure chick fare.

    Demolition Man: VM – The humor and silly antics brought into the story by Sandra Bullard and Benjamin Bratt distract suffiently from the gore and mayhem to bring this just out of the dick-flick range. Besides – Stallone knitting? No way, almost as bad as Stallone in Spandex in Tango and Cash.

    Smokey and the Bandit: DF – “What we have here is a total lack of respect for the law!” What is more DFish than that?

    Feds: VM – It’s a comedy about two women who want to be FBI agents. Cannot be a chick-flick because it does not take these women seriously, and there are NO hanky-required scenes.

    The English Patient: CF – For cying out loud, it’s used as the trigger for the gal who cries just upon hearing the description in a commercial for Pay-per-View TV.

    For partial credit, try your hand at the rest of the list:

    Pitch Black:
    Bridges at Toko-Ri:
    I Spit on Your Grave:
    October Sky:
    In Cold Blood:

  • Marcia L. Neil

    as a process of exclusion — they are not womb/at movies — too much fluff.

  • Peter Hull

    I am an 18 year old straight male who watches a lot of films. I watch films classic and current. There have been films that I like that are considered chick flicks:
    1. The sisterhood of the traveling pants (2005)
    2. stage door (1937)
    3. I captured the castle (2004)
    4. Little women (1933)
    Also I think the idea of calling something a chick flick is a modern standard. For example when Stage Door and Little women came out in the 30’s I’m sure plenty of males went to see them. It wasn’t until about the 80’s that movies began to be given brands.

  • nkc

    I’m a chick. I have some serious things to say, so bear with me.
    I have to admit that I’ve always been bothered by the label “chick flick” because of the way it’s used and what it usually implies. It’s nice to see some acknowledgement here that “dick flicks” exist too.
    There definitely are a lot of movies that generally appeal (or are targeted) to either men or women, but usually the ones that appeal to women get slammed and written-off the most, and that’s what bugs me. When do we ever see “dick flick” (or equivalent) used in a movie review?

    Another thing that bugs me is that sometimes movies that really do have universal appeal – really good movies with good characters and deep themes and interesting storylines – get written off as chick flicks just because they have mainly female characters that don’t pander to male tastes. I guess you could say they have a female centric viewpoint. There are lots of really good movies that show the reverse – they’re from a male centric viewpoint – but these movies are generally treated as universally appealing. Not that they shouldn’t be. It’s just that the female centric movies should also be considered universally appealing. We’re all human. We all love, we all hate, we all age, we all face adversity… We should be able to relate to each other regardless of sex and recognize common themes. It seems to me that women are either better at doing it or more willing to do it than men are, and that’s a shame.
    I read a review somewhere that mentioned that any movie about women is a chick flick, which is pathetic. And… telling?

    All of that said, I generally don’t like chick flicks or dick flicks, the way they’re defined here, because they’re usually crappy movies.

    Princess Bride -VM – one of my all-time favourite movies when I was a 10 year old girl. I had a huge crush on Wesley, and come to think of it, on Buttercup too. I didn’t realize it was a spoof until much later.
    Night of the Living Dead -VM -another all-time fav. I disagree that the horror genre is more DF than CF.
    Soylent Green – have not seen
    Light in the Piazza – ”
    Demolition Man – ”
    Smokey and the Bandit – ”
    Feds – ”
    Pitch Black –
    Bridges at Toko-Ri
    I Spit on Your Grave
    October Sky
    In Cold Blood
    The English Patient -VM- I know as many men that liked this movie, and wanted to see it, as women. I didn’t like it.
    Damn, I haven’t seen most of those movies. Not much input from me there.
    I would say that most “romantic comedies” could be classed as chick flicks, and most “action” movies could be classed as dick flicks. I’m also thinking that comedy appeals more to men and drama appeals more to women, in general. any opinions?

  • Nancy

    I’ll add to my earlier list: I’d also include
    Pirates of the Carribean #1
    and I’d definitely include Princess Bride; spoof or not, it’s a classic.
    Dancing w/Wolves
    The Devil Wears Prada

  • lisa

    I think that you were thinking of 28 days with sandra bulloc sorry for mis spellings this is also a great cm another funny and good one is Her Minor Thing

  • Mellie

    Ok for my media exam I am researching chick flicks so this has all been quite interesting for me to read, very helpful.
    Now for my thoughts,

    1. Films have been branded since early days of cinema. Though the term ‘chick flick’ wasnt used the genre still existed.It was originally called ‘womens pictures’. Though this genre has evolved since it first came about. Nowdays its more defiant, upbeat, post-modern & post-feminist.

    2. The term ‘chick flick’ doesnt imply that the film is only aimed at women, and that if a man did go see it he would have to deny it. ‘Chick Flicks’ are infact aimed at typical characteristics linked with women. It doesnt mean that all women enjoy a good ‘chick flick’, I infact do but I know tones of girls that love a good ‘dick flick’. Similarly I know plently of males that love ‘chicks flicks’ and not all that into ‘dick flicks’.

    3. Quite commonly ‘chick flicks’ are based on fairy tales such a cinderella (e.g. A Cinderella Story, princess Diaries, Pretty Women), or Shakespeare (e.g. Shes the Man, 10 Things I Hate About You) or on popular novels/literary Classics (e.g. The Devil Wears Prada, Little Women).

    4. There are very few characteristics of a ‘Chick Flick’ that they all have. ‘Chick Flicks’ vairy so much from the outlaw, vulnerability of Thelma & Louise to the soapy wisdeom of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. The only characteristics that I think every ‘chick flick’ has are a powerful female lead or at least appears powerful for majority of the film, example of this is meal girls, any of the plastics + Katy. The only film I can think of which is a slight exception to this rule is What Women Want, but in it he starts to understand women & in some ways starts to have characteristics of women.

    Oook i think thats all I have to say on the subject, at least for now.


  • MCH

    Well, you start with a group of pro-war conservatives who’ve never served, spouting bellicose military rhetoric, and then…er, oops…

    …um, never mind, I misread the title, sorry…thought it said “Chickenhawk Movies”…


  • I really think someone said it best when they said that nudity is irrelevant….I don’t think nudity holds any bearing on whether something is generally accepted as a chick flick or not, though female nudity IN a chick flick might give a guy an excuse when his friends make fun of him for liking it.

  • Adam

    Sappy titles are always good (e.g. ‘Imitation of Life’). Men’s movies, though, can be every bit as tear-jerky (‘Brian’s Song’, &c.).

    Women absolutely HATE gritty, grubby scenes. Cold, dirty, tattered movies (‘Saving Private Ryan’, ‘Alien’) make women flee in horror. Nice decore and costumes–especially haute couture, or period clothes–are de rigueur. This is much of the difference, for example, between ‘girl’ movies (‘Twilight’) and ‘guy’ (‘Underworld’) ones, even of the same genre.

  • Anonymous

    I know that I am just reading this now but I read and saw “how to lose a guy in 28 days”, seriously it is 10 DAYS, not 28, get with it

  • “how to lose a guy in 28 days”

    Is this that movie where the heroine takes that amount of time to realize that a rogue virus has turned her boyfriend into a mindless rampaging flesh-eating zombie?

  • JKOH

    Kaye suggests movies that have serious dual appeal (some favorites of mine):
    Avatar – Great male human lead. Great female alien lead, tragedy, noble, lots of violence though.
    300 – Strong woman, great man, great love story, both very noble, tragedy, but lots of blood and guts.
    Jurassic Park – Has almost an ideal woman role model, but also a great male lead, both of whom are noble, lots of tragedy, lots of mostly non-human-on human violence
    Fearless by Jet Li. Not terribly romantic but noble and tragic.

  • sammi joe

    its how to loose a guy in 10 days not 28! ahhh un educated hypocrites these days …