Chick Flick vs. Guys Movie
 
There are many ways to caricature films aimed at certain target audiences, but here’s one spin on it, using the movies “Julie and Julia” and “Transformers:  Revenge Of The Fallen”:
 
1)      The stars:  a chick flick will, naturally, feature female characters, and the men are at best secondary, and oftentimes an impeding or negative influence.  In “Julia and Julie,” Meryl Streep plays Julia Child, the American in Paris in the 1950’s whose husband worked for the U.S. Embassy, so she took a French cooking class.  So we follow her struggles to learn the cuisine and the language, eventually finding her groove in the kitchen, preparing gourmet food, which she later parlays into a book, and a prototype cooking show on American television.  Julia, played by Amy Adams, was a 2002 frustrated office cubicle-worker who decided to channel Julia Child by cooking 524 of her recipes in 365 days, and blogging about her experience.  Her (male) boss is insufferable, and her husband is, at first, supportive, until he feels she’s become obsessed.  In the end, though, he sticks by her, which also channels Mrs. Child, whose husband Paul (played by Stanley Tucci) is portrayed as incredibly supportive throughout.  In “Transformers,” the star is a guy (Shia LaBeouf) who seems normal but also seems to have an extraordinary ability to communicate with transformer robots.  The former Hasbro child’s toy, where you twist and c lick on the pieces until you transform, say, a fire truck, into an alien action figure, is now an elaborate, though ill-formed, story about an alien race that used to inhabit earth, back in the Stone Age.  And now two warring alien transformer-robots are taking the battle to modern Earth, which hardly has the technology to withstand the onslaught.  But somehow our regular guy star has the resources to overcome the obstacles, and in that dynamic, the two films are very similar.
2)      The screenplay:  In the chick flick, you gets lots of talking.  The emphasis is on character development and interaction in relationships.  In the guy movie, you get lots of action:  fighting, explosions, advanced weapons, chases, combat scenes.  They both overdo their own idiom.  Much has been made of Meryl Streep “nailing” the persona of Julia Child, but there’s a fine line between charmingly eccentric and screechingly irritating.  She’s a little too much, and we get a little too much of her.  (And is it blasphemy to say about Meryl Streep that her grating accent is a bit inconsistent?) Amy Adams, while playing kind of a normally neurotic young American woman, may not be acting so hard, but her character is more endearing.  “Transformers” suffers from similar overplaying:  it’s way too long, the fight scenes are confusing, and beyond-belief unrealistic (a tank scraping down the side of a pyramid?).
3)      The context:  in the chick flick, the women are struggling to find their place in the world, and with it, their self-identity.  In the guy flick, he knows who he is (a college freshman with a hot girlfriend back home).  He gets pulled into a crisis situation that he didn’t seek, but once he’s in it, he’s going to find a way to survive.  The hot girlfriend (Megan Fox) is mostly just eye candy.  But the two films have in common an assumed faithfulness to each other.  That’s admirable in a guy flick that’s going to feature some serious temptations (other random eye candy).  It’s downright uncharacteristic of Hollywood to feature the benefits of a strong, working, joyful marriage. 
4)      The unrealistic goal:   in the chick flick, you get to eat incredible amounts of gourmet food in the company of gracious and appreciative attractive friends, and feel really good about yourself without gaining weight.  In the guy movie, you get to save the world.  And since everybody knows you’re the hero, you get to play the humble “Aw, shucks” act. 
 
True, “Julia and Julie” are based on real characters, and “Transformers” is pure fiction.  But they still are true to their respective genres.  And provide for their target audiences (older women and younger guys) precisely what they have come to expect.
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas