“Bridesmaids” has been promoted and praised as the rare comedy that crosses the gender divide, appealing to women because of its female-centric storyline, and to men because much of its humor has a stereotypically male sensibility. That’s an accurate assessment. After all, we rarely see films that feature a bunch of women suffering from serious intestinal distress while trying on bridal gowns.
But while “Bridesmaids” is hilarious and absolutely refreshing, it may seem more groundbreaking than it is simply because of Hollywood’s limited view of the sexes. Studios tend to release comedies that are either test-marketed to appeal to boys (i.e., filled with crass humor and, if possible, Adam Sandler) or programmed to win over girls (i.e. filled with man-hungry women and, if possible, Kate Hudson).
Most of us realize that life is less he-said, she-said than that. When it comes to great comedies, men don’t always reside on Mars and women don’t necessarily frequent Venus. Often, both sexes have their feet firmly planted on Earth where they laugh at the same things.
With that in mind — and with “Bridesmaids” opening Friday in theaters — here’s a list of five movies that could be perceived as chick flicks but that definitely appeal to ladies and dudes.
Obviously there are more films that fit in this category. Post your own favorites.
“Nine to Five”: The 1980 classic about a trio of office workers (Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton) who seek revenge against their sexist pig of a boss (Dabney Coleman) beats a pretty loud female empowerment drum. It’s also deliciously, darkly, universally funny.
“16 Candles”: John Hughes, the undisputed master of the coming-of-age comedy, gave us this often un-P.C. gem that’s filled with both Long Duk Dong jokes and a fairy tale ending that made kissing Jake Ryan over a birthday cake the ultimate romantic goal for a generation of women.
“A League of Their Own”: This celebration of the female athlete plays into a few stereotypes about women. (FYI: We know there’s no crying in baseball.) But its ability to draw audiences from both sides of the gender aisle undoubtedly helped turn it into a $100 million-plus box office hit.
“Clockwatchers”: Parker Posey, Toni Collette, Lisa Kudrow and Alanna Ubach star as bored temps who dream of one day earning the right to be perpetually bored as permanent employees. Like ”9 to 5,” “Office Space” and other great workplace comedies, “Clockwaters” proves that dysfunctional office politics is always relatable, regardless of gender.
“Clueless”: An update of Jane Austen’s “Emma” about a teenage girl obsessed with shopping and falling slowly in love with Paul Rudd? Uh, sounds like a chick flick. But plenty of dudes genuinely love this one thanks to its energy and uniquely Beverly-Hills teenspeak, courtesy of a smart script by Amy Heckerling. The husband of a close friend — a decidedly masculine man with fairly sophisticated cinematic taste — swears that “Clueless” is his favorite movie of all time. Ask him why, and the answer always comes back the same: “Because I’m keeping it real.”