How To Write the Ultimate Chick Flick

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.
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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.
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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
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Steel Magnolias 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.
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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.
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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.
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Perhaps she moved away from home, forgetting her roots and never living up to her mother's hopes and aspirations, like Sandra Bullock in
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The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Barbara Streisand in The Way We Were and Sandra Bullock in Hope Floats and Barbara Streisand in Yentl and-you know what? That's pretty much the reason for a mother-daughter conflict in every movie. Regardless, the underlying hostility culminates in at least one openly confrontational scene between the main character and her mother, ultimately resolving itself on the main character's deathbed when she and her mother realize they fight to no end because there is No End to Their Love.

5. Matthew McConaughey or Richard Gere

In fact, for the ultimate chick flick you probably need both. One should play the guy who broke the main character's heart and the other should be the rebound who turns out to be Mr. Right. We'll leave it to you to decide which is which.
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6. Someone else's wedding

At some point, your female lead has to go to a wedding for a friend or family member and reflect on their love and the love or lack thereof in her own life. See My Best Friend's Wedding, Chocolat, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Sweet Home Alabama. Every guy knows a few drinks and a wedding reception is a recipe for panty peeler. Romanticize that idea, make her date more interested in talking about her feelings than getting her ankles on his shoulders, and you've got it.

7. Room full of flowers (balloons optional)

Don't ask us. For some reason, nothing says a Character's Boyfriend Loves Her Until the End of Time than the fact he is impulsive and irresponsible enough with money to buy an entire florist's inventory and have it secretly delivered to her house. Just make sure this scene comes well before the revelation of the deadly disease or things could get awkward.
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8. Scheming

Prior to meeting the perfect (though, remember, Flawed in One Way) man, your protagonist must take part is some ridiculously idiotic scheme,
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a la Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days or Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed or Melanie Griffith in Working Girl.

While entangled in this web of deceit, she learns that she truly loves the guy, but can't let him know without Revealing All Her Lies. A few suggestions might be making your protagonist be very rich but posing as a bag lady, or a childless woman joining the PTA. Now try your own! Note: A woman pretending to be a man is acceptable (see
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Just One of the Guys, Victor/Victoria), but a man pretending to be a woman will not have the intended effect (see The Crying Game).

9. Damaging "guy" property

To know love is to know heartbreak. Your protagonist must have had her heart broken at some point by a man she thought was The Right Guy, but who wound up cheating on her or putting his career first or in some other way putting his desires before her needs, which is, of course, Just Wrong. The best revenge against such an affront is to destroy some of his typically masculine property, such as a sports car, old Playboy collection, big screen TV or Johnny Unitas autographed football.
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You may also opt to have her trash his wardrobe, which honestly wouldn't have as much impact on most guys as seeing those other things destroyed, but certainly hits closer to home with the women in the crowd, who are your target audience. Case in point, Angela Basset hit several of these points when she torched her cheating husband's car after filling it with all his possessions in Waiting to Exhale. Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes did the same to Andre Rison's shoes and bathroom, but that wasn't a movie.

10. No fart jokes


Jake Bell is a regular contributor to, and head writer of the extremely funny, daily updated blog Ye Old Comic Blogge.

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