Savannah’s Top Ten Underrated Chick Flicks
Ignoring the inherent flaws in the system that turns out romantic comedies and dramas on a regular basis, there’s a lot to be said for films chronicling the human journey to finding picture-perfect love. Unfortunately, for every shining gem filled with feel-goody, squishy love juice, there are a dozen dried-out sponges of cinematic torture, waiting to grate themselves against your eyes as you contemplate your empty popcorn bowl and the fact that you will probably never find that special someone to play bedsheet twister with.
What’s a person to do? Thanks to the ubiquitous and often unvaried nature of movie trailers, and romantic movie trailers in particular, it’s difficult to tell the gems from the scrubby sponges. Fortunately, I have seen your plight and have composed a list of cinematic love quests which will entertain and delight you. These films, I find, are part of a popular genre but go largely unappreciated. They are the diamonds in the rough, as it were. So if you’re looking for a tale of heartwarming affection, or just looking for something to throw on the TV while you attempt to breach second base, look no further. Here are ten fail-safe films that deserve a second look:
Immature coming-of-age comedy? Yes. Possibly misogynistic themes perpetrated by unrealistic protagonists? Yes. Supremely entertaining? Abso-freaking-lutely. Everyone remembers a time when the ideas of sex, romance, and other relations with your favorite gender were new and uncertain. We may have dealt with it in different ways, but the idea of sex being desirable–in theory, if not in practice–seemed pretty universal. This film calls to mind those awkward teenage years, and provides a method of wish fulfillment. Because honestly, don’t you wish YOU were that comfortable with the idea of sex, romance, and burgeoning adulthood at that age?
He’s Just Not That Into You
Honestly, I wouldn’t say that this particular film is necessarily unpopular, but I would say it gets a bad rap. Many have written it off as a bad comedy, or lambasted its premise as antifeminist. Still others have it put down as the ultimate cliche chick-flick even though the producers have gone to great lengths to display exactly how few cliches it subscribes to:
But it does have good themes and if you tend to get bored of one couple’s story, it’ll keep you entertained as it weaves through the story of a number of different relationships. It’s not the best example of comedy, admittedly, but it does have its funny moments.
Ultimately, I think people tend to downplay the complexity of He’s Just Not That Into You, and I think a lot of it has to do with the film’s name. I mean, what person hasn’t had to deal with a tepid relationship at some point in their lives? If you’re feeling cynical about your love life, this would be a great film to watch.
I should clarify: if you thought this list was all about romantic comedies, I am afraid you are quite mistaken. This is not a happy film by any stretch of the imagination, rife with heavy, adult themes. But, that being said, it is extremely well done, star-studded, and possessed of a very specific depth that’s generally only found in live theater. This is largely because the film is based on a stage play, a point that usually makes for dry content, but in this case lends richness to the character interactions. If you want a break from the airheaded comedies, I would definitely put this on your list.
Imagine Me and You
Proof that love is more flexible and complicated than a bipolar basketweaving contortionist, this British film takes a close look at budding attraction, love at first sight, and finding “the right one,” even if you don’t get it right the first time. It’s a touching, varied narrative with funny moments and deeply philosophical themes. And it’s a little sad. But ultimately, so is the quest for love, so maybe it’s a good thing.
This is a mostly forgotten little jewel of a comedy made in a time when Brendan Fraser was still relatively good looking. Chronicling the tale of a nerd who accepts seven wishes from the devil in exchange for his soul, this film is filled with surprisingly witty humor, which is why I’m so sad it has been lost to the harsh mists of time. Though it’s one of the older entries on this list (it came out in 2000) it has aged pretty well. A funny, lighthearted take on deep themes regarding the soul and one’s purpose in life, it’s a great film to bring you up if you’re feeling lost and depressed. Just try not to spend too much time ogling Elizabeth Hurley’s boobs.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Okay, there had to be at least one raunchy comedy on this list. Forgetting Sarah Marshall reflects a trend that I think genuinely needs to continue in romantic films: really gross humor. Because let’s be honest, people are both complicated and disgusting, and getting into any relationship forces a person to allow their partner to see both their complications and their grossness. It’s a real, vulnerable process. In addition, because the film features all kinds of hilariously distasteful references (including multiple instances of Jason Segel’s penis, if you get the uncut version), this film tends to get written off as “stupid.” However, the plot itself is a great look at how arduous a process getting over an ex is. It’s got a lot going on beneath the surface view, and it’s definitely worth a second look.
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Before the time of hipsters and emos, before Pabst Blue Ribbon sales exploded and wearing a scarf in July was accepted practice across all cultures, before horn-rim glasses, fedoras, and skinny jeans came roaring back into style, there was a brief window of time when the desire to find music outside the radio-friendly guidelines was a genuine cause, without the stigma of elitism attached. We genuinely wanted to find obscure bands and music, not because we wanted to be thought of as deep, cultured, and quirky, but because the music was good. Ah, what innocent times those were. Back in those days, if your favorite local band achieved success, you were happy for them, instead of complaining that they “sold out.” I miss those days…
Anyway, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is about a quest to find the ultimate local concert, but it’s also about growing out of old fears and habits to find one’s true happiness. Plus, it’s got Kat Dennings’ luscious lips goin’ on. Watch this movie.
The mostly true tale of the invention of the vibrator. Yeah, don’t let the wee ones watch this one unless you’re prepared to answer some pretty direct questions. It provides some nice historical insight to the psychology of the age while setting the scene for an adorably frank love story that you’ll love… provided you aren’t bothered by fairly straightforward and unabashed talk about sex. If you can put aside your reservations for a couple of hours you’ll be delighted by this film.
The Invention of Lying
This film takes an interesting concept–a world without lies, fibs, or exaggeration–and explores it in an unexpected way. The comedic style is a bit more dry than most of the entries on this list, but I’d say that’s a good thing in this case. It’s very understated, but extremely entertaining.
I have to say, the casting is fantastic. That’s what sold it for me. In a film like this, it would be extremely easy to overplay it, but everyone plays it straight, to marvelous effect. It makes for a very immersive world. If you’d like something a bit more quiet and intellectual for a nice evening in, this is the film to go for.
Knight and Day
Okay, I won’t lie. Upon first viewing, I didn’t really care for this film. I didn’t hate it, I just wasn’t super impressed. But here’s the thing: this is the film that redeemed Tom Cruise. Remember how, at one point in 2010, it was cool to mock him for things like his dedication to scientology, his obsession with then-wife Katie Holmes, and of course the understated-but-present implication of closeted homosexuality that has chased him around since Top Gun? And then, suddenly, all those jokes just… went away. You can still mock him for any of those things today, but they’re small, clearly tired “aside” jokes, no longer the robust pieces of Jay Leno’s opening monologue (if , indeed, Jay Leno’s comedy could ever be considered ‘robust’). And how did that happen? Knight and Day. This film showed us that Tom Cruise can still act well in a film that is entertaining and over-the-top. The premise is completely unbelievable and ridiculous, and yet Cruise pulls it off. It may not be oscar-winning material or scripting but damn, he is fun to watch. And ultimately, isn’t that what it’s all about?
These are ten great (fairly recent) examples of films about love that have been overlooked, ignored, or simply forgotten. They cover the funny, fickle nature of love and romance in a variety of ways, each intriguing and amusing. Though I can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to make a romantic connection with their guidance, nor can I guarantee that any of us will find love and happiness in this cold, soulless void of a universe, I can provide reasonable proof that these movies can at least distract us from it for a little while. Good luck in all your romantic endeavors, comrades! I’m off to find bedsheets printed with Twister polka dots.
This article was originally published on Atheiatrical.