Category Archives: Movie Review

Strong Women Rom Coms

clueless

Clueless

This one may seem like a silly choice for a strong female rom com but Cher (a ditsy high schooler) is actually a fairly strong character.  She doesn’t let immature high school boys turn her head, she stands up for what she believes in (even if it’s giving sports equipment to disaster relief), and is nice to everyone, even the school “losers”.  She’s very much her own person for all her valley girl ways.  Plus, her whole talk about her virginity being an important thing is a great message.

[about keeping her virginity]

Cher: “You see how picky I am about my shoes and they only go on my feet.” 

13-going-on-30

13 going on 30

Jenna is an insecure 13 year old girl whose only wish is to be popular.  She makes a wish and wakes up as a 30 year woman with a successful job in publishing.  While at first her life seems perfect, she soon realizes her success and popularity were due to acting in a horrible manner to the people around her, including her friend from when she was young (a boy).  Lots of soul searching with the boy from her past (now a hot man) she realizes that friendship and being a good person are the keys to happiness and not being popular.  This leads to love and a new future of happiness.  

Jenna: “Who are these women? Does anyone know? I don’t recognize any of them. I want to see my best friend’s big sister, the girls from the soccer team, my next door neighbor, real women who are smart and pretty and happy to be who they are. These are the women to look up to.” 

the-prince-and-me

The Prince and Me

Paige is a smart, driven, woman in her senior year in college with dreams of medical school.  Edward is a carefree, spoiled prince from Denmark.  Edward come to the US in pursuit of “Girls Gone Wild” type women and ends up falling for Paige when he realizes there is more to life than fast cars and faster women.  I love how Paige teaches him that kindness, hardwork, and fairness are keys to happiness and love.  The ending is especially great because Paige holds to her values and dreams but still gets the prince (who respects her even more because of it).  

Edward: “I want you in my life Paige.  I want to marry you.  If that means I have to wait until you finish medical school, become a doctor and anything else you would like to do then I will do it. I will wait.”

Paige: “Denmark isn’t ready for a Queen like me.”

Edward: “But then they will have to be.  Because I am.”

the-last-holiday

Last Holiday

There isn’t as much “romance” in this movie as others but there is enough to put it in the rom-com category.  Georgia is a shy, introverted woman who has big dreams but limits herself to a small quite existence.  When she learns she is “dying”, she takes her life savings, travels to Europe and learns to live like she has always wanted.  Along the way she learns to be strong, confident in who she is, and to enjoy life.  When the guy she has always loved but never let herself pursue come to “rescue her” she ends up saving those around her instead.

Georgia: “Next time… we will laugh more, we’ll love more: we just won’t be so afraid.”

 romancing-the-stone

Romancing the Stone

Oh how do I love this movie. It used to be in the regular rotation for my mom and I as one of our go-to rentals when my dad and brother were out of town (back when you had to drive to the video store).  It has everything a a girl needs in a rom-com.  Strong female lead in Joan (Kathrine Turner), handsome male lead in Jack (Kurk Douglas in his prime), comedy, adventure, romance, and subtle message that a woman can bring a man along for an adventure but doesn’t need him to save her.  Seriously, no matter what the movie poster shows, for all of Jack’s effort, by the end of this movie you will realize that Joan ends up saving herself every time they get into a pickle.

The story revolves around a shy romance writer named Joan who dreams of being swept away in a grand passion by a strong “manly man”.  Her sister gets kidnapped by a drug lord who wants a map the sister’s husband sent Joan.  She travels to Columbia to exchange her sister for the map, gets on the wrong bus and meets Jack.  Lots of adventures later they find the treasure, save her sister, and live happily every after.  Or at least until the sequel which isn’t worth watching.

Publicist: “Joanie, you are now a world-class hopeless romantic”

Joan: “No, hopeful. Hopeful romantic”.

Do you know of any other romantic comedies that star strong female characters that do more than wait around for “the right guy”?  I would love to hear about them.

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Will the Live Action Beauty and the Beast be an Inspiration to Young Girls?

I saw the teaser trailer for the new live action Beauty and the Beast this morning (shown above) and it’s twinged my feminist radar.  Regular readers of my blog know that after the birth of my daughters I’ve become more and more of a feminist.  Not the exactly the bra burning type but more towards making sure the influences in my girls lives don’t subtly tell them they are less than a man.  This extends from the toys they play with, the books they read, and the movies they watch.  I don’t need to be a research scientist to know that watching a princess wait around to be rescued over and over again will give any girl a complex.

Two years ago I saw an advanced screening of Disney’s live action Cinderella movie.  After I got past the beauty of the set and costumes, I realized that poor little Cinderella was still stuck in the Dark Ages in terms of using her own strengths to rescue herself.

Then I heard about Emma Watson staring in a live action version of Beauty and the Beast.  The cartoon it’s based on already has a lot more going for it in terms of strong female characters.  Belle is surprisingly independent for an early Disney princess between staying strong to her beliefs and fighting to save her father and the beast.  On top of that, the fact that Emma Watson is Belle will hopefully guarantee that the writer/director will not be allowed to make her character too subservient/helpless.  Emma is a outspoken feminist herself having helped launch the UNs HeForShe campaign.  It would be hard to imagine that she would tie herself to a movie that was anti-feminist in any way.

So Disney, please don’t let me down again.  Please have listened to people like me that complained about the message Cinderella was telling our young girls.  Please have Belle be the strong independent woman I know she can be portrayed to be.

And while your at it, can you make the new live action Tinkerbell movie have an engineering minded Tink and not just a funny fluffy headed fairy?  Pretty please?

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Is the Cinderella 2015 movie an inspiration for young girls?

I’m not one to post movie reviews on this blog but I was lucky enough last night to be able to watch a screening of the live action Disney Cinderella movie coming out in March of 2015.  I was excited to see if it was as inspirational to young girls to be a strong independent female as with previous Disney movies (Brave, Frozen).  Although I didn’t hold out hope for an engineering role model like I found Tinker Bell. (wishful thinking of a engineering mom)  I took Rose (and her Aunt) and am very happy to say that unlike Maleficent it was very age appropriate for even little girls.  I came out of the movie with that nice warm fuzzy feeling that good romantic comedies give.  The guy gets the girl, the bad people are punished, and everyone lives happily ever after, all interspersed with some comedy and light drama.  Rose’s aunt was almost giddy because it paired an actress from Downton Abby (Lily James) and an actor from Game of Thrones (Richard Madden) together as the romantic leads.  😉

The story line follows the cartoon movie almost verbatim but with a nice addition of expanded back story and heartfelt drama.  The acting was great (how could it not be with Cate Blanchett as the Evil Stepmother) and the scenery beautiful.  (Rose wanted to take home the gorgeous grey horse she rides around on)  If the costumes don’t win an Oscar, I don’t know what’s wrong since they were absolutely stunning.  I think her wedding dress alone is going to inspire a whole new wedding dress line.  And of course, the shoes*….

Here’s the thing.  Once I got home and started to move beyond my initial “awwww” reaction, I realized that Cinderella is still a bit of a subservient character.  I get the whole “wait for your prince to come” theme from in the 50’s when the cartoon was made but this is 2014 (or 2015 when it comes out).  Cinderella’s mom’s dying quote is “have courage and be kind”.  So I guess the whole “have courage” thing is have to courage to wait around for rescue?  Or maybe it was to have courage to be kind in the face of adversity?  But does being courageous and kind mean you should stay quiet and kind in a bad relationship/home life because something good might happen if you do?  (50 Shades of Grey anyone?)  I think they were trying to make Cinderella be “self assured” and “finding joy in the life you live no matter what” but it seemed like she was a bit of a door mat.  I know, I know, it’s just a Disney movie and a remake of an existing one at that.  I shouldn’t expect huge life affirming, girl empowering stuff every time.  Sigh…  (Of course they remade Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent and Aurora turned out pretty bad ass)

It isn’t all bad of course.  For the most part, she doesn’t let herself get depressed over her situation and she did have a stand up for yourself moment at the end but then apparently gave up and sat around moping after that.  As of the editing on the screening, she didn’t even free herself with the help of the mice like she did in the cartoon.  Humph.  I think I am just spoiled by the Ever After story line with the female lead that saves herself in the end but still gets the prince.  I know this was the “olden times” where it would be very difficult to be a woman out on her own but as a mom who is taking her young daughter to this, I know she will not be analyzing the social economical trials of the time period.  She will be looking at Cinderella as someone to look up too.

The Step Mother is actually the strongest female character but of course, she is evil.  It almost gives the message that being strong and opinionated is “evil” and being quite and subservient is “good”.  Deep thoughts there!  There is a whole nuther blog post that can be written about her but I’ll wait until the movie is out since it would contain a bunch of spoilers.

Oh, and don’t get me started on how skinny they made Cinderella’s waist.  Like “did they computer generate her waist that skinny?” skinny.  Not a good message to our girls.

Disney really did a step back for our impressionable girls with this movie.  After wonderful strong female character movies like Brave and Frozen (sister power!), it was disappointing to see them go back to the old standard.  Maybe because it was directed by Kenneth Branagh who isn’t exactly known for his movies with strong female leads?  There was a woman writer (along with a man) but….

So long winded rambling aside, the latest Cinderella is a beautifully filmed movie with a nice romantic story line.  Your little girls will love it.  Just don’t expect it to inspire them much beyond playing dress up.  Or dream of galloping a beautiful horse across flower strewn fields until a prince comes along to save you from your run-away horse…. wait.  Damn it!

*On an engineering side note, I have to give props to the prop department (see the pun I made there?) for designing a glass slipper that might just hold up under the force of Cinderella running around.  The thickness of the heel and area under the ball of the foot are surprisingly thick.  The heel is even thicker then in the poster and not as high.  Hopefully the fairy godmother put some Dr. Scholl’s in there for shock absorption but otherwise I bet a stress analysis would show the shoe would withstand basic use. 

Update 5/23/2016:  I just saw the teaser trailer for the live action Beauty and the Beast.  Please let it be a better influence for our girls!

cinderella 2015 Live Action

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