Chick-flick is a slang term for a film genre mainly dealing with love and romance and designed to appeal to a largely female target audience. Although many types of films may be directed toward the female gender, "chick-flick" is typically used only in reference to films that are heavy with emotion or contain themes that are relationship-based (although not necessarily romantic as many other themes may be present). Chick-flicks often are released en masse around Valentine's Day.
Generally, a chick-flick is a film designed to have an innate appeal to women, typically young women. Defining a film a chick-flick is, as the New York Times has stated, more of a parlor game than a science. These films are generally held in popular culture as having formulaic, paint-by-numbers plot lines and characters. This makes usage of the term "problematic" for implying "frivolity, artlessness, and utter commercialism", according to ReelzChannel. However, several chick-flicks have received high critical acclaim for their stories and performances. For example, the 1983 film Terms of Endearment received Academy Awards for Best Screenplay, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
Some frequent elements of chick-flicks include having a female protagonist, thematic use of the color pink (along with metaphorical allusions of the color), and romance and/or dating based storylines. Longtime producer Jerry Bruckheimer has remarked about the plots as "How do you cope with money and love?"
MSN.com commentator Kim Morgan has written,
[C]inema just wouldn't be the same without movies for and about women. And we don't just mean movies about pretty women, but all women and their issues – something many guys don't usually have the patience for in real life. That's what sisters are for, right? Right... sisters or movies.
Alternatively, the website My Pick Flick is a crowd-sourced mechanism for determining if a film is a chick-flick or not, where visitors can vote for popular film titles to be either a 'man movie' or a 'chick-flick'.
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The concept of films designed to appeal specifically to women has existed since the early days of cinema and has been known by other colloquial terms, including "women's pictures". Those were generally critically panned upon their release. However, women's films such as the 1950s melodramas directed by Douglas Sirk – Imitation of Life and Made of Honor, for example – are often thought by modern critics as significantly different in tone and content to modern chick-flicks. Specifically, critics cite what they see as the ironic and complex criticisms of American culture in those past films.
The 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany's, commonly known as one of the 'classic' films from the golden age of cinema, is sometimes considered as an early chick-flick due to common elements such as dealing with loneliness, obsessive materialism, and happy endings. Molly Haskell has suggested that chick-flicks are very different from the women's films of the 1940s and '50s in that they now "sing a different tune." She feels that they are "more defiant and upbeat, post-modern and post-feminist."
In the U.S. in the 1980s, a succession of teenage drama pictures also labeled as chick-flicks were released, many by director John Hughes. These often had a different and more realistic tone than previous chick-flicks, with dramatic elements such as abortion and personal alienation being included.
Several chick-flicks have been patterned after the story of Cinderella or other fairy tales (e.g. A Cinderella Story, Ever After, and Pretty Woman), or even Shakespeare in the case of She's the Man and 10 Things I Hate About You; a large number are adapted from popular novels (e.g. The Princess Diaries, The Devil Wears Prada) and literary classics (e.g. Little Women). Other prominent examples include Terms of Endearment and Steel Magnolias.
While most films that are considered chick-flicks are lighthearted, some suspense films also fall under this category. See What Lies Beneath.
After the blockbuster success of the 2008 drama/romance film Twilight, Paul Dergarabedian of the media company Media By Numbers remarked that "[t]he word 'chick-flick' is going to have to be replaced by big box-office girl-power flick" and that "[t]he box-office clout of the female audience is just astounding, and it's been an underserved audience for way too long". He also said, "They have no trouble finding money for the things they're passionate about." For that film, Fandango.com found that over 75% of its opening-weekend audience was female.
- Simpson, John, ed. (2009). Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, on CD-ROM Version 4.0. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-956383-8.
- Stevenson, Angus; Lindberg, Christine A., eds. (2010). New Oxford American Dictionary, Third Edition. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 300. ISBN 978-0-19-539288-3.
- Eber, Hailey. "Our Valentine to You and Yours: 10 Chick-Flicks that Don't Totally Suck". ReelzChannel. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
- Abramowitz, Rachel (February 14, 2009). "'Chick flicks' are really starting to click". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 4, 2010.
- Cieply, Michael (April 9, 2008). "Wary Hollywood Plans More Chick-Flicks (Hoping to Lure the Guys)". The New York Times. Retrieved October 4, 2010.
- "Terms of Endearment". New York University: Literature, Arts, and Medicine Database. Retrieved September 30, 2010. "Terms of Endearment shares with films Beaches, Steel Magnolias, and One True Thing the popular status of melodramatic "chick-flick.""
- "‘Twilight’ is the new breed of chick-flick". msnbc.msn.com. November 25, 2008. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
- Morgan, Kim. "Top 10 Chick-Flicks". MSN.com. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
- Halpern, Michelle (October 27, 2009). "The Best Chick-Flicks: Then and Now". stylecaster.com. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
- "a rare commodity, a military chick-flick".
- Jacobson, Colin (April 13, 2007). "An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)". dvdmg.com. Retrieved August 22, 2011. "Officer manages to be one of those rare films that deftly treads the line between guy movie and “chick-flick”."
- "Memorable and Great "Chick" Flicks". Filmsite.org. Retrieved October 26, 2011.
- St. John, Nina. "10 Best Chick-Flick Quotes". Screen Junkies. Retrieved December 4, 2012.
- Ellison, Richie. "A chick-flick turned b-movie road adventure". LoveFilm. Retrieved October 26, 2011.
- James Berardinelli (1995). "Waiting to Exhale". reelviews.net. Retrieved October 2, 2010. "No doubt about it -- this is a "women's movie" (or, as it's alternatively referred to, a "chick-flick")"
- Spindle, Les (August 5, 2009). "The First Wives Club -- Theater Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 2, 2010. "The menopausal chick-flick "The First Wives Club" (1996), based on the novel by Olivia Goldsmith, primarily demonstrated that mediocrity needn't preclude boxoffice success"
- James Berardinelli; Roger Ebert (2005). Reel views 2: the ultimate guide to the best 1,000 modern movies on DVD and video. pp. 243, 304, 347–348, 370. ISBN 978-1-932112-40-5.
- Boursaw, Jane Louise. "Top 10 Chick Flicks Bridget Jones Diary (2001)". Kaboose. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
- Beyrer, Bill. "The Notebook - Review". Cinemablend.com. Retrieved October 2, 2010. "The Notebook is a chick-flick. Not just any kind of chick-flick, but the kind of chick-flick your parents would like."
- Reed, Bryan (February 22, 2007). ""Music and Lyrics" more than a chick flick". The Daily Tar Heel.
- Debbie Schlussel (February 14, 2007). "Mid-Week Box Office: A Cute Chick-Flick I Liked". debbieschlussel.com.
- Mele, Rick. "The Proposal". AskMen.com. Retrieved October 2, 2010. "this is a chick-flick so Andrew’s choice and what yours might have been aren’t necessarily going to match up"
- "The Movie Report Archive: June 2009". mrbrownmovies.com. June 19, 2009. Retrieved October 3, 2010. "there is something to be said for such a relentlessly by-the-numbers chick-flick programmer that is nonetheless a breezily enjoyable sit"
- "Top 10 Worst Chick Flicks". Time. Retrieved October 26, 2011. "Sex and the City 2 hits theaters on May 27, 2010, and already the news isn't good. TIME takes a look at some other not-so-great films that have been cruelly pitched at female audiences"
- Cook, Samantha. The Rough Guide to Chick-Flicks, Rough Guides Ltd, 2006.