Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Top Chick Flicks

For at least 20 years, people have debated the elements that constitute a Chick Flick. While many have posited their conclusions, the definition has always inherently subjective. Until now. Thanks to the glorious entity that is the IMDb, we actually have some data to work with. The website was originally created by some guy in England because he was seeing so many movies, he couldn't keep them all straight in his head. Since its inception, each movie has been rated on a scale of 1-10, 10 being wicked awesome, and 1 being utter trash. The great thing is, anyone who's a member can vote their opinion on any movie. We utilized these rankings when we uncovered the Hidden Gems of the IMDb's Top 250 a few weeks back. But now we're doing something a bit more scientific. We're using the rankings to determine which are the chickiest chick flicks around.

Our methodology is simple. The IMDb nicely breaks down the vote averages by demographic group. Men, women, and ages by gender. After culling through every "chick flick" we could think of, we have come up with a list of the movies that have the largest gap between sexes in average vote. We assume that if women like a particular movie much more than men do, it is inherently "chickier." One could argue that Remains of the Day is a tooooooootal chick flick, but lo and behold the men have given the film a higher average rating than women (7.9 to 7.8). Therefore, this movie is not inherently "for chicks." Four Weddings and a Funeral only has a voting gap of 0.2, therefore it is surprisingly not that much of a chick flick.

However, before we get started, we must state that your help is needed. We went through all the films that came to mind, including everyting Streisand, Bullock, Roberts, Middler, and Keaton (both Diane and Michael) have ever done, but surely there ar some we forgot. Please, if you think of one that's missing, leave your choice in the comments, and if you have the time, look up the gap. So, without further ado, we present the Top 13 Chickiest Flicks.

10 (tie). The Divine Sectrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
Men: 5.1
Women: 6.3
Diff: 1.2

The tagline was "Mothers. Daughters. The never-ending story of good vs. evil." You think a guy wants to see that? I'm surprised the gap isn't bigger. Incidentally, the female under 18 love this movie (though there are very few of them who've voted). I haven't seen this, and in case you can't tell, I don't plan on it.

10 (tie). Never Been Kissed
Men: 5.4
Women: 6.6
Diff: 1.2

Little known fact -- men have no interest in seeing Drew Barrymore do much of anything. In this movie, she plays a reporter who goes back to high school to find out what the kids are thinking these days. She falls for a teacher who (a) probably wouldn't date his students and (b) is way too good looking for Drew Barrymore. But it's a cute enough cookie-cutter idea that clearly is meant to appeal to women before men.

10 (tie). Beaches
Men: 5.9
Women: 7.1
Diff: 1.2

I think frequent contributer Kozy really likes this movie. Or maybe he cried during it or something. I can't remember for sure. Getting back to the point, people often point to this movie first when they think "chick flick." As the evidence shows, it's with good reason. I often think of a rating over 7 on the IMDb is a pretty decent endorsement from the moviegoing public. And anything under 6 is a pretty clear thumbs down. That this one straddles those measures is perhaps mere luck, but I'm recommending women go see it and men do not.

10 (tie). Mama Mia!
Men: 6.4
Women: 7.6
Diff: 1.2

I mean, this one isn't surprising, right? Actually, I'm surprised the gap isn't bigger. 6.4 is kind of high for men. Most of the guys I know only pretend to like ABBA so they can get women to go to bed with them. I figured at some point someone would point out that this gender-based vote-splitting is not taking into account that many of the male voters could be gay and therefore aligning more with women. I don't think this argument holds water in general. Gay men are not going to be feeling the love for the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. However, I am willing to guess that ABBA is another story, and perhaps they would be more into this output. Even if that's the case, enough women have voted their hearts on this one to put Mama Mia! near the top.

6 (tie). Waiting to Exhale
Men: 4.6
Women: 5.9
Diff: 1.3

For a long time, I've wondered why popular movies targeted at African Americans always have low ratings on the IMDb. Invariably whenever the new Tyler Perry picture is released, it starts in the Bottom 100 of the IMDb. That's From Justin to Kelly territory. Waiting to Exhale is an example of a popular film with low ratings. Regardless of whether the users of the IMDb don't get the black culture, it's at least nice to see that chick flicks are colorblind.

6 (tie). Practical Magic
Men: 5.2
Women: 6.5
Diff: 1.3

Here's what I know about this movie. It stars Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as sisters who are witches. Well, they don't know they're witches until they find out that they are. Also, Stockard Channing and Dianne Weist show up making it a movie about old and young ladies for old and young ladies. I have nothing more to offer as I had no idea such a movie existed and only stumbled across it by accident. So there you go.

6 (tie). Hocus Pocus
Men: 5.7
Women: 7.0
Diff: 1.3

The reason this is a Chick Flick not hard to sum up. In fact, I'll do it in ten words: The movie stars Bette Middler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy. Also, they intentionally ugly up caParker. Also, they're supposed to be sisters. And yes, I realize we just covered that territory in the last film. Anyways, I have no idea why this is getting a 7.0 from the ladies, but perhaps it's "cute". At this point, I think it's fair to say that a movie about witches who are sisters is not going to appeal to men.

6 (tie). Ever After
Men: 6.4
Women: 7.7
Diff: 1.3

This is a remake of the story of Cinderella starring Drew Barrymore. I don't need to explain this further, do I? It appears quite clearly that women love this movie.

4 (tie). Now and Then
Men: 5.5
Women: 7.0
Diff: 1.5

Cravenly devised as a female version of "Stand By Me", this features four girls when they're young paired with stories of their lives as adults. The adults: Rosie O'Donnell, Demi Moore, Melanie Griffith (who I thought all women hated...), and Rita Wilson. I really don't know much about this movie other than what I wrote in the first sentence. I suppose it's kind of like the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" except with a lower rating.

4 (tie). Twilight
Men: 5.7
Women: 7.2
Diff: 1.5

The newest film to make the list, Twilight has been dividing couples all over the world since its release last year. Many, many fights were had on a number of issues ranging from the sparkly skin, running around on treetops, and Edward's goofy family. Several sequels are in the works (however with more competent directors). We'll see if the series can work its way into the top 3!

3. Yentl
Men: 5.9
Women: 7.5
Diff: 1.6

Babs had to make the list somewhere. And here she is. She plays a Jewish girl (not a stretch), who has to dress up to look like a boy (uhhh, ok I'll say it - also not a stretch). Also, Babs directed and co-wrote the thing and was already 41 years old when she played the Jewish girl-boy.

2. Dirty Dancing
Men: 5.8
Women: 7.6
Diff: 1.8

The odds-on favorite and potentially real champion after all (we'll get to that in a minute). Every girl loves this movie and the 7.6 is pretty clear evidence of that. Guys can take it or leave it. Perhaps nobody puts Baby in a corner, but somebody did knock her out of the expected position of the Chickiest Chick Flick of them all...

1. Sex and the City
Men: 4.8
Women: 7.1
Diff: 2.3

A differential of 2.3? Now, perhaps this makes perfect sense. This is clearly a movie targeted to women and their female friends and family members. However, I am somewhat suspicious of the 7,441 people who gave this movie a "1". 1s and 10s always get a lot of votes, but I have to wonder if men who are sick of their girlfriends forcing them to see the show logged on and voted it down even though they've never seen the film at all. The IMDb is an imperfect system in that if enough a-holes independently decide to mess with the mechanics, the works can get fouled up. But based on our methodology, Sex and the City is the clear winner of the Chickiest Flick in history.

I should note, that there was one movie I rejected out of hand that had a differential of 3.7(!). That film is Bratz, and the reason I did not include it was because the high female rating was almost completely driven by girls under 18 whereas the male voters were almost entirely older than 18. So it wasn't an apples-to-apples comparison.

If there's time, I will try to look at the factors that are driving this differential. In the meantime, if you have any that you think belong in the Top 10, please leave a comment and we'll check it out. A complete list of all the movies we looked at can be found here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

One Word Review: Ikiru

85: Weighty

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

First Blush: Dinosaur Jr. - Farm

What was originally just the experiment of "getting the band back together" for Dinosaur Jr. soon became the restart of the group's career and a new album. Lead singer/songwriter/guitarist J Mascis, bassist Lou Barlow, and drummer Murph are apparently getting along like peas and carrots these days, and a tour is imminent. We did a First Blush on 2007's Beyond the day it came out, and generally liked it a lot before Serge brought us back down to earth with some poignant comments. This comes a few weeks late after release thanks to the whole living in Argentina thing, but here's the take on their latest effort, Farm. Anyway, enough of my yakkin, let's boogie!

Track 1 - Pieces
A quick pop from Murph brings us to some heavy strumming and we're on our way. The production seems too slick. Vocals feature something about "the pieces of our love" repeated many times. It's a low-intensity track which seems like more of a vehicle for some decent J Mascis guitar solos. I'm intentionally avoiding the word "boring." Not a bombastic opener.

Track 2 - I Want You To Know
Really fuzzy guitars, even for these guys. It's like they hired the guitarist from The Black Keys for overdubs. There's much more of a groove now, and at the 1:30 mark, the pace picks up a bit. This could be a really fun one live. It's more reminiscent of the Where You been era that didn't feature Barlow, but with some of his influence mixed in just a bit."Hey I want you to know, stay with me, I can't let it go. Hey, you put it in my head, stay and see, you know what you said." This is not J's most shimmering lyrical moment.

Track 3 - Ocean In The Way
On the one! We get a great downbeat opening with all instruments at once. Then J starts singing in a slow honky tonk. Obviously, Dino is always trying to push the boundaries of feedback fuzz, but right now this is not sounding very clear for me. I heard rumors that some of the CDs pressed for this release had some "sound issues", and right now I'm hoping that I didn't get a lemon. Hopefully it's just lousy headphones, though I didn't know these were lousy. The song breaks down at 2:16, a chance to catch our breath. J croons, "Come on down," but not at all like he did in Puke + Cry. There aren't a lot of hooks in this track, but I've enjoyed the mellow ride.

Track 4 - Plans
Really digging this one, and I don't even have much to say about it. It's like a classic Dino track, each guy doing his thing with a steady beat behind it all. It's gone on for over five minutes now and I have nothing new to say. Just that I'm enjoying it. I don't even know what this song's about.

Track 5 - Your Weather
We get our first Lou Barlow track, and it's got some punchiness to it. This is the first one we've heard that actually sounds "new." It started a bit dark, but by the 1:20 mark it's building to something else. "If it's rainin on your island, how am I deciding, why can't you?" Not sure if I heard that right, or if it means anything at all. Best track on the album so far.

Track 6 - Over It
J is wanking like crazy! Please read that in the cleanest possible interpretation. But this again just feels like he's going through the motions. Things get skippy around the 2:00 mark, but then we settle back in 30 seconds later. J's vocals sound sleepy. I guess I'm looking for something extra and just not getting it so far.

Track 7 - Friends
This is as Thin Lizzy as Dino can get. Murph is busy, but the snare is definitely popping on every 2 and 4. There's a certain singalong aspect to this tune, though it's in J's high, whiny octave. This is Rock and Roll and not much else. "Even if you don't see me, I promise I'll be here. I wanted you to lose control, I wanted to reheal my soul, and nothing seemed that strange, and my goal was in range." Man, these are bad lyrics. What happened? J used to be able to turn something simple and poignant at the same time. Now he's throwing out utilitary rhymes like the dude who wrote Miss Saigon. Great solo near the tail end of this one, though.

Track 8 - Said The People
The second-longest track on the album starts off with some promising darkness. It feels heavy in an intense way. "Of all the people to let me down, Of all the people while I'm out. Saaaaave me." This is the first track on the album where J acts like he cares what he's singing about. And it makes a difference. With a different band, this song could be a cheesy stadium rocker, complete with lighters hoisted aloft. Here it feels more meaningful. Halfway through, we hear sounds reminiscent of "Not the Same." They are welcome. There's a lot going on here (finally), and this track is definitely a keeper.

Track 9 - There's No Here
A wild solo can barely be heard over the driving guitar and drums. And then it goes on like that.

Track 10 - See You
This track is called "See You" and right now sounds almost exactly like "What else is new" which begins with the lyric "I'd like to see you." I'm not complaining, just noting. Kind of a sweet, simple one that finally matches J's laidback approach to vocals on this album. This is a nice song. Nice. Now we come near the end and it kicks just a bit. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiice.

Track 11 - I Don't Wanna Go There
A thick sheen of rawk greets the opening of the last J Mascis track on the album. "You're the one who told me what to say. Would you come and hold me? Would you come and show me right away?" Again, these lyrics are simply vague. I don't think anyone would be able to connect to them. But this is the longest tune on the album, and they're making the most of it. Murph is filling in a lot of sound around what I can only imagine is three or four overdubs of guitars. I was raelly bored at first, but this album is making a comeback! J takes the last four minutes to completely shred his guitar. I am thankful for the shredding.

Track 12 - Imagination Blind
The other Barlow track sounds straight outta 1999 or so. Or at least whatever the hell I was listening to in 1999. It's got a decent fuzz to it, but really just passing time until the album ends. Which is soon!

Man, at first I was really, really worried. I thought this whole thing was giong to fall flat. But then things started to pick up at least a little. It seems clear that as a songwriter J Mascis is past his prime, but he can still play like dynamite, which is probably the most important thing. This certainly doesn't pass Beyond, and I don't think it will hold up in comparison to their heyday output, but on the whole, it is at least a decent record, and I look forward to getting to know it better.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thursday Youtube: Child Labor Edition

...because I didn't want to call it the 10,387,395th MJ Tribue Edition. This comes by request from Winston Wolf. In The Wolf's words, "How does a 10 year old sing with this much emotion about a girl he 'broke up' with?" He also says, "If only they didn't put those silly lyrics in there." You'll see what he means. Enjoy.

Bonus Thursday Youtube - 10,387,396th MJ Tribute Edition. I heard the rumors that Stevie brought the house down. Of course he did. He's the most amazing performer I can think of. As sad as everyone seems to be about Jackson's departure, when Stevie goes I know I'm going to be despondent for a month. Here he is performing one of his most passionate songs (also one that Jackson chose to cover). Enjoy.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Chick Flick Data List

Click to enlarge: