Chick flicks: Bad boys and good girls
It's been awhile, but I still have more to add to my chick flicks guide! It's an age old theme in chick flicks. He's the bad boy, and by bad I mean he has a girl on every corner. The perma-bachelor. The playa. The ladykiller. He's sworn off love, but he hasn't sworn off women. But then he meets a girl who doesn't yield to his charms. A girl who looks down her nose at him. Maybe at first it's a game and he's got something to prove, but eventually he's smitten. He has to win her heart and she makes him into a new man.
Usually there's another love interest vying for the good girl too - a good man, who is solid, respectable, handsome, but dull and lacking charisma. Of course, his presence as a rival makes the bad boy pursue harder, and the good man has no hope of winning the girl (or the audience) against the bad boy's charisma.
I've often wondered if these movies are just a male fantasy. The one-way standard is infuriating. And I watch these men cast one easy woman off after another and I say Come on. No one really lives like that. This is a joke. And why would any woman throw themselves at such a pig? But you could also argue it as a female fantasy to be the one to finally change the man, to truly capture his undivided attention, to tame the wild beast.
Now I must warn you, something about this storyline lends itself to cheese. And almost all of these movies are inherently cheesy. But if you're in the mood for some queso, dip right in.
Doris Day was the queen of these movies. Oh, and by the way, these films are worth watching just for stunning early 1960s fashion and interior design. They seem to straddle the sexual revolution. They directly address the question of sex more head-on than the previous era, yet still cling to traditional notions of love and purity. They also bridge into an era when girls who would typically be married began to infiltrate the professional workforce (still looking for a husband of course). And you can see all of these tensions represented in these movies. These are the best:
Lover Come Back
That Touch of Mink
These 1960s Doris Day films inspired Down With Love, the campy movie starring Rene Zellweger and Ewan McGregor. Don't try to watch this movie unless you've recently watched one of the above Doris Day movies. Then you will totally get just how twisted and funny this movie is. Plus as a writer, I smile with glee at the ridiculous over the top fantasy of Rene's character publishing a bestseller and going to New York and living in this crazy penthouse. The set and costume design on the movie is killer.
Indiscreet is a more sophisticated adult take on the theme starring Cary Grant and the fabulous Ingrid Bergman.
Made of Honor - This movie is a little different, because the bad boy, played by Patrick Dempsey, has been best friends with the good girl for years. But when she gets engaged, he realizes that he wants more and goes off in pursuit, making a fool of himself. But guess what? The bad boy always gets the girl eventually.
The Ugly Truth - I'll be a bit snarly and say I'm not this movie's biggest fan, although I liked the cast. Way too much lame gross out humor and sometimes I wanted to slap Heigl, but I had to include it on the list because it is just such a prime example of bad boy-good girl. And who makes a better modern Doris Day than Katherine Heigl?
And speaking of lame gross out humor. There is My Best Friend's Girl starring Kate Hudson and Dane Cook, as a serious jerk, who gets paid by dumped guys to take girls out on dates so bad that they'll want to run back to their ex-boyfriend. Guess what happens when he uses his act on Kate Hudson, who happens to be his best friend's girlfriend?
Oh wait. Now we're back to Katherine Heigl. Life As We Know It - Ah, once again she plays the neurotic uptight blonde foil to Josh Duhamel's slouchy bad boy. But it worked for me because it felt more sincere. Plus there's a goofy "oh my gosh we have to take care of a baby" story in the mix to shake things up and I even felt a bit weepy at the sappy parts.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past - Matthew McConaughey does cocky and smarmy really well. (Also see 10 Days to Lose a Guy or Failure to Launch (worst movie ever keep that in mind) where his name is Tripp, seriously). In this Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, he's reliving his past love life ala Ebenezer Scrooge, when he realizes that Jennifer Garner is the one who got away. I can't say I adored it, but it was fun.
And while Jane Eyre is hardly the stuff of romantic comedy, I can't help but wonder if it is perhaps a precursor to this bad boy-good girl theme? Rochester is not only arrogant ("Do you find me handsome?" ha!), but he already has a wife in the attic, he's been roaming across Europe meeting women, now he's hunting for a rich second wife when meek Jane wins him over against his better judgment. Hmmm.
Suggested Double Features:
Classic with a twist: That Touch of Mink and Down with Love
Uptight blondes: Life As We Know It and Pillow Talk
Modern men: Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and My Best Friend's Girl
Any movies you'd add to the list of bad boy/good girl films?