Cinderella gonna cut a bitch: Ever After
By Erin K. O’Neill
I love Cinderella. I watched the Disney version of Cinderella every day when I was four years old. I thought my Dad was Prince Charming (WAY before I learned all about Freudian psychology and Electra Complexes). But, Cinderella is a rather flawed fairy tale from a feminist perspective, as Cinderella is saved from the drudgery of women’s work by marrying a handsome prince. There is no amount of singing mice that will save the story from THAT.
Ever After fixed that problem. In Ever After, Cinderella, here called Danielle, reads Thomas Moore’s Utopia and fights off the bad guys with swords. Dude. Cinderella has a sword. It really doesn’t get any better.
There’s a lot of other stuff; like the incorporation of Leonardo da Vinci’s flying machines, the way Prince Henry of France falls in love with Danielle for her brains and spirit and not because she fits into a class slipper, and Anjelica Huston as the evil stepmother is always a pleasure. But for me, really, it boils down to one thing:
Cinderella has a sword. She knows how to use it. And that is awesome.
I Hate Chick Flicks …except The Wedding Singer
By Lindsay Patton-Carson
I hate chick flicks.
Really, I don’t think you understand. Hate them. Loathe them. Want them to cease from existing.
Chick flicks ruin the expectations of a normal relationship. Real men can’t compete with dead guys who send their widows messages (such as Gerard Butler did in P.S. I Love You) or sparkly vampires who stare through your window while you sleep (which, by the way, is not romantic. It’s creepy). Chick flicks turn perfectly normal women into mindless fools when it comes to romance, and worst of all, build up jobs in journalism to be glamorous careers. (They’re not.)
So why is my favorite movie of all-time The Wedding Singer?
I asked myself that a while ago, and, given my distaste for chick flicks, I still can’t come up with one concrete reason. There are actually many reasons why I love this movie, but the main one – and most important in any chick flick viewing – is that I don’t take it seriously.
If you’ve ever seen The Wedding Singer, you’ll notice that its humor is based in over-the-top scenarios. While every woman would love to have a man track down her flight to Las Vegas and serenade her with a sweet, well-thought-out song he wrote while he friends drove him to the airport, it’s completely absurd. Once you throw a drunken first-class-riding Billy Idol into the mix – in one of the best cameos of the ‘90s, might I add – it’s downright impossible. And that’s why I LOVE it.
Another reason why I love this movie is that although the plotline is timeless (two people who are engaged to someone else meet, become friends, fall in love, blah, blah, blah), it’s set in 1985 – another factor that adds to the over-the-top humor of the movie. In the ‘80s, everything is bigger, brighter (hell-o day-glo!) and more sparkly. Plus, lines like “Please get out of my Van Halen t-shirt before you jinx the band and they break up,” wouldn’t have the same effect if it were a present-day movie.
Like any of Adam Sandler’s early dude flicks, The Wedding Singer also features a brilliant supporting cast of characters that, most of the time, steal the best lines from the film’s stars. Steve Buscemi nails it as a drunken best man in the first 15 minutes of the film, and I’d rather party with Holly (played by Christine Taylor, best-know as Ben Stiller’s hot wife) than her wet-blanket cousin Julia (Drew Barrymore), the heroine of the film.
So, yeah, I’ll admit it, I not only like a chick flick, but I love a chick flick. Not because of the obnoxiously happy ending, but because of the obnoxiously awesome cameos, one-liners and pop culture references. Oh, and Billy Idol.
Shut up, I’m charmed by dial-up. And everything else in You’ve Got Mail
By Tara Cavanaugh
You’ve got Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, an implausible plot and an archaic internet connection. Bring on the charm.
The two main characters of You’ve Got Mail – the independent bookstore owner and the asshole book-chain executive – go head-to-head and then fall head over heels in love, thanks to the amazing technological advancement of AOL. (Email! Online chatting! What will these kids think of next?)
I think this may be one of the first – if not the first – movie that talked about the online turned-real-world romance. So even though the dial-up is all 1998-sounding, the robotic “you’ve got mail” that lights up Ryan’s and Hank’s faces somehow makes us smile too. Because when you’ve got mail, it’s a sign somebody wants you, and that feeling has only increased in our collective consciousness since then, thanks to our obsession with being connected.
But today, we’re not always connected in the most meaningful of ways, are we? I mean, how much connection can you truly fit in 140 characters? But Hanks, as the cutthroat Joe Fox and Ryan, as the sweet Kathleen Kelly, write emails as if they’re penning letters to a long-lost friend.
Plus, the two are so freaking likeable. Hanks, who has been America’s Favorite Everyman since Forrest Gump, stars as a silver-tongued good guy who occasionally snarls on the job (and at Ryan) and then scrambles to redeem himself and win Ryan over. Ryan, America’s go-to Rom-Com Sweetheart until she did that movie where she mostly wore Botox and boobs, stars at the height of her loveliness, as her sweetness is pushed to sassiness.
So put the two together and you just can’t help yourself. The second this shows up on TNT, my ass is on the couch. The quirky cast of characters (Chapelle makes an appearance), the awkward dialogue and the boxy 90s wardrobe all swirl together for a magnificent finish. I know love is never like what it is in the movies, but this time, I wanted it to be real.
Guilty Pleasure: Save the Last Dance
By Michelle LeGault
It’s hard to say no to Julia Stiles. I feel myself getting glued to the couch whenever she appears on my TV as a hard-working student with misunderstood angst alongside the pretty face of Heath Ledger in “10 Things I Hate About You” or that dreamy (albeit obnoxious) prince in “The Prince and Me.” And then there’s my all-time favorite: “Save the Last Dance” where Julia’s character uses hip-hop to overcome adversity.
I remember the first time I saw “Save the Last Dance.” It was opening week and the theater at the local mall was packed, something you don’t see often anymore (the last movie I attended I was one of two people in the theater). Because my friends and I arrived after the previews began we had to sit in the very, very front row. With our necks strained so far that the backs of our heads touched our shoulder blades, we fell hook line and sinker for Sara Johnson’s romance with the hunky Derek and his smooth dance moves. Any movie that combines love, drama and dancing is an Ace in my book.
This movie is addicting because it reminds us of the classics our parents loved to make us watch. If you took a few elements of “Grease” and mixed them with the plot of “Dirty Dancing” and then changed the setting to an inner-city high school in a black neighborhood you would have “Save the Last Dance.” Sara is Baby and Derek is Johnny and their relationship is scorned and forbidden because they run in different circles. Sara is also Sandy and Derek is Danny Zuko and Sara must learn how to walk, talk and act like her peers so that her relationship with Derek will get the stamp of approval.
Because of its familiarity, “Save the Last Dance” doesn’t require a lot of concentration from the viewer. You can put this movie on while folding laundry or while writing a paper for class or something else that requires any amount of concentration and you don’t have to worry about missing details that affect the plot. There really aren’t any. If you watch the first and last ten minutes of this movie I’m pretty sure you could guess what happens in between. That sounds bad. It sounds like I’m telling you that I don’t like this movie at all. But really, don’t we all love chick flicks for their simplicity? Don’t we crave them for their ability to draw us into the same story that we’ve already heard but with new actors and an obvious twist?
The Way We Were
By Lindsay Ray
I’m a classic movie kind of girl. Gimme Bogie and Bacall, Hepburn and Tracey, Rodgers and Astaire any day. When I’m feeling particularly sappy, I reach for An Affair to Remember. When I want something I can quote and that will give me the warm fuzzies, I grab Sabrina. When I want that perfect sepia tone-tinged romance, I put in Casablanca.
But my real weakness is a Robert Redford romance, particularly The Way We Were. There’s just something about Redford as the golden boy with the writer’s soul behind his all-American smile. And something about Barbra Streisand as his unlikely love interest – the passionate Jewish activist. There couldn’t be two people who seem more unsuited for one another, but they make you believe in them. You can understand what Redford’s Hubbell Gardiner sees in the spirited Katie and why Katie brings out the best in him. You can love them as flawed individuals – his need for ease and comfort and her always longing for a cause –and fall in love with them as a couple as they fall in love against the backdrop of iconic American time periods.
But what really gets me about this movie is that it traces the whole evolution of a relationship. It’s what The Break-up wishes it could be. (Spoiler alert!) There’s no riding off into the sunset with Redford. It’s the story of the unlikely girl snagging the golden boy – and you know what? It doesn’t always end in fairy tale castles. Two people can really love each other, really try, and it just doesn’t work.
Maybe I love the movie because I have a special weakness for Redford. Maybe I like that these two people learned from each other and genuinely cared enough to know when to call it quits. Maybe I like that Katie ultimately refuses to compromise who she is. Or maybe I just like that the film doesn’t try to sell me a fantasy or sugarcoat the difficulties of a relationship. Or maybe it’s because even though their relationship fails, you still feel that they were better off for being together for the time they had.
All I know is that whenever I hear Babs warble about misty water-colored memories, I tear up a little and tune in again to the star-crossed romance.
P.S. If you want a modern, bittersweet take on star-crossed love, watch Before Sunrise. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy may not have a lifetime of romance, but their one night more than makes up for it. And catch the sequel Before Sunset if you just can’t leave things hanging. One of the best ending lines to a movie ever.
In Defense of the Underdog: Bridget Jones’s Diary vs. BBC’s Pride and Prejudice
By Jenna Cooper
Bridget: I suddenly realized that unless something changed soon I was going to live a life where my major relationship was with a bottle of wine and I’d finally die fat and alone and be found three weeks later, half-eaten by wild dogs. Or l was about to turn into Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction.”
Within these few lines, I knew found a kindred spirit in Bridget. Although I admire Elizabeth Bennet for her intelligence, wit, and independence, I can never quite relate to her. Sure, her life was far from ideal—her family embarrassed her, her mother tried (and failed) to make decisions for her, and she found it difficult to find her niche in society as a bright, headstrong female. However, when did Elizabeth impulsively say something ridiculous or feel compelled to measure up in her weight, career or love life? Certainly, Elizabeth made bad judgment calls when it came to Wickham and Darcy, but would she ever lack the “right” words for the likes of Salman Rushdie? (I literally did a *facepalm* when Bridget asked him “where are the toilets, huh?” when he asked for her opinion.) Bridget serves as a character to which many modern women can relate, especially those of us women who feel like we make gaffes on regular basis, grimace at our weight on the scale, feel unsatisfied with our careers, and guiltily entertain bad habits like smoking, drinking, and not exercising.
I felt traitorous for secretly enjoying Bridget Jones’s Diary more than the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice. Helen Fielding openly admitted that she paid homage to the 1995 BBC adaption of Pride and Prejudice in her novel and in the movie as well. Furthermore, Bridget Jones’s Diary doesn’t offer its audience significantly different plot twists or themes from Pride and Prejudice. The major discrepancies in plot consist of Daniel Cleaver, the dastardly “Wickham” character played by Hugh Grant, having a fling with the “Elizabeth” character (Bridget Jones), and the omission of the Jane-Bingley relationship.
However, these incongruities with Pride and Prejudice don’t take away from a central theme the movies (and novels) share: actions speak louder than a veneer of charm or “stiff upper lip” arrogance. Both Darcys say some incredibly insensitive things to the female protagonist, but both redeem themselves in innumerable ways. For example, Mark Darcy makes amends with Bridget and says the most swoon-worthy words in the entire film:Mark Darcy: I like you, very much.
Bridget: Ah, apart from the smoking and the drinking, the vulgar mother and… ah, the verbal diarrhea.
Mark Darcy: No, I like you very much. Just as you are.
And at that moment, Mark Darcy became my favorite Darcy. Of course, the reindeer sweater was pretty endearing, but what woman doesn’t want someone who accepts her just as she is? I can’t imagine Fitzwilliam Darcy, had he lived in the 21st century, ever being able to get past the impropriety of Bridget wearing a playboy bunny costume to a cancelled Tarts and Vicars party. All in all, I suppose the main reason why I like Bridget Jones’s Diary better than Pride and Prejudice is that it illuminates how two very imperfect, relationship-challenged people can get past each other’s flaws and find uncontrived bliss.