It’s film night and your heart sinks as you recall the last time you snuggled on the sofa with your better half was to watch a man with a bloodied vest shoot holy s*** out of a thousand zombies.
In other words it’s now her turn to surf Netflix which can only mean one thing – its chick flick night. You briefly consider ending the relationship there and then rather than enduring ninety minutes of insipid nauseating hell, as the plucky heroine eventually realises the bloke with the flash sportscar who kicks the crutches away from rickets-riddled orphans is a virulent a***hole while the dirt-poor artist who cries at sunrises (but who can somehow afford the rent on a cool loft apartment) has been there for her all along. Meanwhile some American Coldplay wannabes are polluting your lugholes and your girlfriend’s teary snot is soddening your favourite top.
But fear not good men of Blighty because we’re here to help with ten films that mostly avoid the sugar and spice of a small-town girl eventually bagging her modern-day Darcy figure and securing her dream job all of course with the support of her sassy and quirky best friend. Or Sandra Bullock hilariously prat-falling in her high heels. Or seeing a woman slide down a wall while sobbing just ten minutes after singing into a hairbrush to a 1980s classic. Or an airport reconciliation so syrupy cloying it makes you want to vomit onto her onesie before hunting down Hugh Grant and punching him repeatedly in the mush until your fist is a gory stump.
Save on the prison time, guide her towards one of these tolerable gems, and remind yourself throughout that next time your speakers will pound to gunfire, explosions and the squeal of car tyres. As it should be.
The Wedding Singer
Before Adam Sandler devoted his entire career to playing f***tards with speech impediments he would occasionally dabble in decent. Okay, ‘occasionally’ is an exaggeration: we basically mean just The Wedding Singer, a likable cracker that includes Drew Barrymore at her absolute cutest and a pissed-up Billy Idol playing cupid. Plenty of lolz moments are extracted from its eighties setting but its biggest sell is a warmth that runs through it like a celluloid Care Bear.
Many swallowed the hype that this is a feminist march on the gross-out cock-comedy monopolised by the Farrelly brothers and Seth Rogan et al. But anyone who has endured a Saturday night in Rhyl will know that girls belching, leering, and squirting out bottom juice in the street is not as rare an occurrence as the film critics made out. Even so, there may not be anything revolutionary about girls being raucous but it was certainly refreshing to see females given such prominence in a corking comedy where not one cast member forgets to bring their A-game.
Lars And The Real Girl
A socially-awkward young guy finding love with a blow-up doll might be a hard pitch when she’s really wanting to see Carrie and the girls in their latest botoxed adventure but when the guy in question is Ryan Gosling you’re quids in. Anyone with a pulse and ovaries adores the man who simpered through the decades in the Notebook before looking moodily f***able wearing a bad satin coat in Drive. Even when he prefers latex women to them.
During a lull in conversation it has happened again, the dreaded query whispered in a deceptively light tone that strikes a chilled fear into every male: “What are you thinking about?” Familiar panic sets in as you briefly consider telling the truth. But surely then she’ll just think you’re weird. I mean, what right-minded person compiles a list of the best Belle and Sebastian b-sides whilst locked in a post-coital embrace?
High Fidelity might be on the laddish side of the rom-com scale but it has ample enough rom and com to justify its inclusion here. Better still it perfectly illustrates to any female viewer what list-based madness, strange insecurities, and deep devotion to obscure bass chords reside in what passes for our minds. Don’t judge us, pity us.
On the face of it this should be uber-torture; a soft-centred sorority queen (already that description stretches reality) is dumped by her boyfriend so enrols in law school to win him back. Except she doesn’t discover him but rather herself. This strange splicing of Paris Hilton and Raquel from Corrie should be the most irritating creature Hollywood has ever spawned but is made palatable, even likable, by a dervish turn by Reese Witherspoon whose sparkle and energy carries on from her ace showing in Election. From a premise sickly as regurgitated candyfloss Witherspoon somehow turns this into a chick-flick Rocky and for a while back there it looked like she could be something special. Then she went and spoiled it all by making Sweet Home Alabama. Dear Christ.
Admittedly Heathers dismantled the prom queen clique with far more venom but this Tiny Fey written debut is still totally fetch. Lindsay Lohan’s breasts put in a career-best performance that makes her consequent spiral all the sadder as her character realises nearly too late that attaining popularity in a country as thunder-f***ingly stupid as America is the equivalent of being the best looking person on a burns unit.
Bend It Like Beckham
Starring Kiera in tight-fitting tops when she was fit and didn’t resemble the remains of Richard III this has enough football and fizz to see you through to the end credits a happy chappy. Additionally this is well worth a watch for a cringeworthy cameo from Rustyballs himself and a performance so wooden by Jonathan Rhys-Meyer than it’s in danger of being wiped from the archives by termites.
10 Things I Hate About You
The teen femi-nazi angst of the Julia Stiles role may as well have come from the Home And Away book of stereotypes – all bedroom heavy reading, acid scorn, and listening to watered down punk – and Heath Ledger has as much bad boy attitude as one of the Shreddies nannas, but this remains a superior and thoroughly enjoyable high school comedy that is a younger, spikier cousin to Grease.
500 Days of Summer
The first encounter between hero and heroine in chick-flicks usually involves an elaborate set-up. This can be anything from a house swap, the male lead dating the female protagonist’s daughter, or even one initially haunting the other as a ghost.
In 500 Days Of Summer the soon-to-be love-birds meet in a lift at work with Zooey Deschanel over-hearing Joesph Gordon-Levitt’s headphones and declaring “I love The Smiths. You have good taste in music”. After floaty-singing the chorus to There Is A Light she exits whereupon a million former bedsit-dwelling men fall helplessly, hopelessly in love.
Gordon-Levitt says it all for us: “Holy s***”.
Punch Drunk Love
Sneak this one under the radar and you gain massive amount of man-points. Paul Thomas Anderson’s paean to loneliness doesn’t have a sentimental bone in its body and is all the more affecting and brilliant because of it. Stripped completely of schmaltz lines such as “I have a love in my life that makes me stronger than anything you can imagine” carry an emotional weight Richard Curtis would kill an African baby for.