Chick flicks: Realistic

As I continue my guide to chick flicks, I want to share a bit of my philosophy. I think most chick flicks tend to veer into the cheesy arena.  So you may hear me using the word "cheese" a million times.  What is cheese to me?
  • Unrealistic, fantasy (example, having a dream job, like working at a magazine or in fashion)
  • A little corny (bad jokes often involving animals, body fluids, old people, etc.)
  • Over the top (not just 7 dresses, 27 dresses!)
  • Exaggerated acting  (I will name no names here)

I have a love-hate relationship with the cheese.  I can pop in a chick flick and enjoy a light, fluffy dose of cheese. But when it comes to rating a movie, when it comes to LOVING a movie, I often love the ones that have a more realistic tone. Sadly, those are rare.

So today, I'm honoring more realistic chick flicks!

The chick flicks:

5 stars
Ah, how I love this film.  It's not just a girl's film. It's actually more from a guy's POV.  A guy who is going through something of a life crisis and he's on a journey of discovery.  Along the way he meets a girl and watching their funny back and forth dance is what makes it a chick flick's dream.  But what makes it 5 stars for me are the deeper themes (that I can very much relate to), the music (it's a music lovers movie), the deep south, the quirky characters, Bob and Cindy's wedding, all night phone calls and the fact that it feels kinda real.

Some kind of wonderful
4 stars
It's been FOREVER since I've seen this - need to see it again, so I'm starring it off of distant, warm memories. These aren't fantasy characters - the slightly geeky boy, his tomboy best friend who fixes cars and plays drums.  And you totally fall in love with them.  I remember thinking Watts was so cool. 

Reality Bites
4 stars
The 90s, okay. Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke in all their angsty glory go through the pains of getting out of college and finding a "real job" - and this is no cheesy version.  This movie has a soft spot in my heart.  Maybe because I'm angsty too. 

Say Anything
4 stars
It's been too long since I've seen this... I need to go back so I can examine the roots of Cameron Crowe.

3 stars
The 90s again.  If you are too young to know what grunge was or where the Seattle scene started, watch this movie.  If you're old enough to remember it, watch and reminisce. I love the casting on this movie (an ensemble of unique actors - none of them cliche rom-com stars).  It sort of echoed "He's just not that into you" for me. I gave it a re-watch recently since I remembered liking it, but wasn't sure why.  I had my "aha" moment as I realized Cameron Crowe directed this movie.  He also directed Elizabethtown and the resemblance shows.  I looked up Cameron Crowe on IMDB and saw that he also directed Say Anything.

Notting Hill
3 stars
Okay, so this wasn't perfectly realistic, but definitely more in that direction.  The giant glowing head of Julia Roberts on the movie poster as the "unattainable actress" and the presence of Hugh Grant as the bumbling suitor puts this in typical chick flick territory.  But somehow it feels a little different. Maybe it's because it's set in Britain and Hugh Grant works in a small unsuccessful bookshop and has quirky friends.
See this house on Hooked on Houses.

500 Days of Summer
4 stars
I expected not to like this movie.  Maybe that's why I ended up liking it.  I was told it was an unconventional romance and I was afraid an unhappy ending was coming. But I gritted my teeth, pushed play and ended up being happy I watched it. I won't give anything away, but for me, it all wrapped up very satisfyingly.  There is a playful style to this movie, but still, it shows the reality of love juxtaposed against the fantasy of it, and that makes it a refreshing change.  And of course, Zooey Deschanel's signature style is always a draw.  In fact, someone liked it so much they started a whole blog about style inspired by 500 days of summer!

4 stars
Kirsten Dunst as a tennis pro? I was skeptical But she must be a pretty decent actress because I bought it. 

The Family Stone
4 stars
I mentioned this one before, but I couldn't help throwing it in again.

About a Boy
3 stars
Hugh Grant - can't get away from him.  But this is at least a nuanced, non-cheese film.

The Thing Called Love
3 stars
Ah, back to the 90s again.  Why did River Phoenix have to die? This was such a great movie with young songwriters trying to make it big in Nashville.  

Mystic Pizza
3 stars
A young Julia Roberts with big hair working in a pizza shop with two of her friends in a coming of age tale.  Plus I love Lili Taylor in this movie.

Hope Floats
3 stars
Being from Texas, I can't help but get a little flutter at the small Texas town that this film celebrates.  This story is a little on the bittersweet and serious side, but it combines Sandra Bullock, as a woman just getting on her feet, and Harry Connick Jr. as a cowboy sweeping her off her feet.

Recommended double features:
90s GenX uprising: Singles and Reality Bites
80s Teenage love: Say Anything and Some Kind of Wonderful
Go south: Hope Floats and Elizabethtown
Quirkfest: Notting Hill and 500 Days of Summer

Do you have any recommendations for "realistic" chick flicks that you would add?


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  2. Love Actually: Along with The Family Stone, it's a Christmas tradition at our house.

    Singles: I can recite this entire movie. I remember quoting Bridget Fonda religiously in my mid-20s, "Time's running out to do something bizarre. Somewhere around 25, bizarre becomes...immature." How and when did I get so far on the other side of that?! Plus you gotta love the Pearl Jam cameo and the soundtrack. Makes me feel young again!

  3. Great list! I would add "Sweet Home Alabama" and "You've Got Mail."

  4. Love your list! Glad to have found you through The Diversion Project!

  5. Great list! But I think Say Anything is a waaaaaaaaaaaay better movie than Elizabeth Town and for me Mystic Pizza goes straight to the top - but I'm old so that's probably why. Thanks for reminding me about Hope Floats, gotta watch that again!

  6. I know exactly what you mean about the cheese factor. I am a chick flick lover myself and I can totally relate to the movies on your list. I would add the movie "Untamed Heart" with Christian Slater and Marisa Tomei.

  7. Nice list, thanks :--) Before the sunset/the sunrise are part of my favorite romance films and it is also have realist tone. I highly recommand it!

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