Friday night comes around, and the latest blockbuster is opening on seven screens at the nearest cineplex-ripe with gunfire, explosions, car chases and gratuitously bared breasts (in surround sound). And yet, you find yourself listening to it all through the wall of the theater next door while you watch Matthew McConaughey-or possibly Richard Gere-fall in love with a girl, scorn her, and ultimately rekindle their love while weepy women sniffle all around you.
How the sweet holy hell did you wind up in a chick flick? At this point, the question is moot. Your girlfriend-or gay friend who paid for the tickets and laid a guilt trip on you-has dragged you into this. Now it's up to you to make the best of it.
Every weekend, millions of couples sit through Hollywood's most recent chick flick offerings and nearly half of them enjoy themselves. That's millions of dollars spent just to rent a seat for two hours. "I wish I could get a slice of that money pie," you're thinking. Now you can,
using CRACKED's patented How To Write the Ultimate Chick Flick Guide.
Culling our knowledge of every chick flick we've sat through-or at least the parts during which we didn't doze off-we've scientifically devised this list of elements that, when combined, will create a chick flick so oozing with estrogen it could make Charlton Heston lactate. Use them to help outline your screenplay and wait for the cash to start rolling in.
1. Deadly disease
Your main character must have a Terrible Disease For Which There is no Cure. You can write it so she was already diagnosed, or maybe receives the diagnosis during the second act, preferably after falling deeply in love with the Perfect Man. The obvious choice here is cancer, which did gangbusters for Susan Sarandon in Stepmom
, Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment
, Charlize Theron in Sweet November
... well, you get the point.
Feel free to branch out. For example, Julia Roberts died of diabetic-related kidney failure in
and, in Beaches,
Barbara Hershey had viral cardio myopathy, for God's sake. Try leukemia or multiple sclerosis or just Google "terminal diseases." Complications related to the protagonist's pregnancy are also acceptable, and you get bonus points if she dies within a minute of safely delivering the baby and holding it in her arms. A word of warning though: steer away from ebola, leprosy, or anything else that will require bringing Rick Baker on to do makeup effects.
2. Flawed boyfriend
The object of your main character's desire shouldn't be perfect in every way. It is every woman's dream to meet a man, fall in love, and then change
him. Perhaps he's too uptight, like Richard Gere in Pretty Woman;
or a misogynist, like Richard Gere in Runaway Bride;
or obsessed with his work and harboring a secret desire to break out of his rut, like Richard Gere in Shall We Dance?
Of course, outside of the solitary flaw, for which the protagonist is the perfect counter, the romantic interest must be perfect, thus making your main character "complete" him.
3. 60's soul sing-along
At some point late in the first act or early in the second, the main character and the people she cares most about (friends or children) must hear a soulful 1960's song either on the radio or a jukebox, and sing it together-ideally into combs, and while dancing about in a way that is carefully choreographed to look completely random and spontaneous.
Explore the discographies of Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke. Nothing helps three-dimensionalize a white, twenty-something, upper middle class woman like having her a) know all the lyrics to and b) be driven to uncontrollable dance by Motown.
4. Strained mother-daughter relationship
The roots of this are probably Jungian. Jung proposed an Electra Complex as counterpart to Freud's Oedipal Complex, explaining hostility by daughters toward mothers. Whatever the reasoning, the ultimate chick flick must have an underlying theme of Matronly Disapproval of the Protagonist and/or Her Life Choices.