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03/28/2008 02:47 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Three Reasons to Toast the Chick Flick

The Ladies Who Launch series gives members of the Ladies Who Launch Incubator a platform for sharing their stories of giving back and doing good through their business'. Why isn't it cool to like movies with less developed characters, actors with expertly ironed jeans and plot lines you might have come up with yourself? Why is the happy ending so bad? Because "deeper" movies with "real" messages are so much more worthwhile and frivolous drivel starting Meg Ryan, Cameron Diaz or (lately) Diane Keaton just aren't up to cinematic snuff. As someone who looks forward to weekends when emails slow down, the phone rings less and any type of entertainment sounds appealing, I have an unrequited love for chick flicks. They're easy on the brain. They don't cause deep reflection. They inspire laughter, even if you resist the impulse. There's room in this culture for a little silliness, and as Ina Gilles points out, the less-than-celebrated Chick Flick should really get its due among the critic hoi polloi. Irony, intellect and reflection are always on tap thanks to filmmakers like Wes Anderson, Ang Lee or Niel LaBute; but how often do you get to think less and smile more for 2 hours straight?

Amy Swift Editor in Chief, Ladies Who Launch
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Three Reasons to Toast the Chick Flick

By Ina Gilles, writer

2007-10-31-lwl.jpgA rare snowfall covers Seattle. My sister, brother, and I watch the new TV version of "Pride & Prejudice" debut on A&E. Colin Firth as Lord Darcy steps from the carriage. Will he fill the shoes of Sir Laurence Olivier, that perfect Darcy in the 1940 movie?

He does. We exchange smiles. And our mother seems to be smiling with us despite the party, in place of a funeral, we're giving this weekend to remember her life.

Years of family togetherness inhabit the room, and of watching favorite TV shows: not violent, sexually explicit, or dark, but stylish and upbeat.

Thus, for me, it seems odd to even question the worth of the romantic movie and its happy ending. I unabashedly side with the value. And that value must be stood up for, because serious critics often dismiss the so-called chick flick. It's too sentimental.

In the Seattle Times, AP movie critic Christy Lemire discusses that attitude, quoting an awards expert who suspects most critics are "taking their own esoteric side trip." They are "academic types who want to prove how smart they are," and "professional grouches who ... tend to bash sentimental movies," says Tom O'Neil.

In a personal encounter with one of these professional grouches, I naively said one of my favorite movies is "You've Got Mail."

He said he walked out of that very movie in disgust.

I countered that the film represents a pinnacle of movie making.

With good humor, he laughed. But his view came through clearly--"You've Got Mail" was not to be taken seriously.

Why are romantic movies rated so low? I think the crux of the issue is not so much the love story, but our ethics and ideals.

Through a passion for factual truths, we have lost those of the imagination, Helen Luke writes in From Dark Wood to White Rose. Yet the happy ending does not evade facts and suffering. It affirms the joy at life's heart -- a faith in beauty and love the modern age has abandoned.

In the midst of life's ups and downs, the romantic movie creates a sense of that joy. It believes in people's best side, the ability to rise from sadness and despair towards ideals and loves.

In the wise words of children's book author, Cooper Edens: "If there is no happy ending, make one out of cookie dough."

Here are three practical benefits I think offered by romantic movies with happy endings.

1) They provide a safe, tasteful, uplifting focus for family get-togethers.

2) They bridge cultures. Like great love songs, great romantic movies touch people worldwide. In a recent PBS special, Lionel Ritchie says that, as he tours the globe giving concerts, he is a common thread. Even Shiites and Sunnis know his songs.

3) They create positive feelings. Today's world is so topsy-turvy, it reminds me of a joke. If you can keep a level head in this confusion, you just don't understand the situation.

Yet challenges like terrorism and global warming require action backed by calm and hope. The romantic movie helps create those good feelings. Like a double martini without the side effects, romantic films turn stress into sparkle.

Too sentimental? Think of the movie "Holiday Inn" and the song "White Christmas." In 1942, as America put its full power and heart into World War II, that romantic movie heartened the country.

So here's to the chick flick!

And here's to happy endings made out of cookie dough!

Speaking of cookie dough--the British have recognized the value of cookie dough to make happy endings for centuries. Every day, as the light ends and dusk falls, they enjoy treats like shortbread cookies and scones along with their tea.

I believe that is called romancing the small things of life.

Ina Gilles is a writer. You can get in contact with her at Inagilles@aol.com or
206.352.5342

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