Have you ever watched a film with a lead female character or two and enjoyed it so much that at the very end you felt a little bit…emotional? And has this feeling perhaps led you to think, “I need to watch this again with (insert BFF’s name here) and I need to call her RIGHT NOW and tell her all about it”?
It happens. It happens and it doesn’t have anything to do with quantifiable evidence. A feel-good-about-the-sisterhood movie might not have won any Oscars or stars or thumbs up, but it can make you feel lucky to have your girlfriends and it might make you want to be a better one.
A strong group of girlfriends is like having a pot of gold and it’s always a delight to see that magic happen on the big screen (or even the little screen if you're anything like me in college).
Here’s a very short list, in somewhat chronological order, of our favorite movies featuring women helping women.
1. Thelma & Louise (1991)
Iconic; Thelma & Louise is what every woman thinks of when she thinks of films about women helping women. World-weary Louise helps doe-eyed Thelma out of uncomfortable man situations while fleeing to Mexico in a convertible mustang. Their decision-making, how the stakes get higher and higher, the scenery and that soundtrack! This film surpasses the term chick flick and is more a spiritual thriller with some seriously young Brad Pitt eye-candy thrown in. Best movie ending ever. I’d probably floor it off a cliff if Harvey Keitel was chasing me.
2. Steel Magnolias (1989)
Another one not to miss, I think of this film as paving the way for Thelma & Louise. A high-voltage cast of southern women see their friend's (Sally Field) daughter (Julia Roberts) marry and then die a tragic death. The life challenges they face together and the way these old and new friends communicate is so subtle and sensitive it is a good friendship lesson to us all. Full of excellent one-liners and killer scenes (armadillo cake anyone?), this is a woman's classic.
3. Practical Magic (1998)
Okay, this didn’t get many stars, not many good reviews or any thumbs up. There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of it... but it’s fun to watch with your girlfriends anyway. The basic plot is that two sister witches have been cursed upon. The curse entails that the men they fall in love with will die an early death. They also drink piña coladas and have dance parties in the middle of the night. Need I say more? Goran Visnjic -- Dr. Luka from ER, hello! (that’s who put Croatia on the map for me) -- is the swarthy bad guy. The sisters have to work together to exorcise them out of their lives. Maybe not technically a classic, but a fun watch, especially around Halloween.
4. Sex in the City-Movie #1 (2008)
This could not be left out. Like it or not, Sex in the City is the TV series of our generation that taught women to speak to each on another level. The movie features the characters we all know and scenes that we’ve all been through before, packing up and moving, escaping from the love of your life. Buying your wedding dress at a vintage store and then ditching your penthouse -- oh, wait-that would NEVER happen. Regardless of reality these are four friends that stick together through the best of times and the worst of times.
5. Bridesmaids (2011)
Bridesmaids is a great example of women helping women and the dark jealous resentment that some women have the capacity to harbor. This is a film about two frenemies planning their friend’s wedding. Lots of funny and tragic things happen. Actually, many tragic things happen. However the grand finale is the wedding scene featuring the band Wilson Phillips singing “Hold On”, which is an awesome way to show the women had united.
Why We Love Films About Women Helping Women
A few themes stood out in compiling this list: tragedy, bonding, sensitivity and above all, a sense of humor. Leading lady characters carry a depth and grace that isn’t often seen in their male counterparts, and the traits of depth and grace are exemplified when they are helping each other.
Obviously, this is an abbreviated list, but there are so many! Please share your favorites and explain why.