I’ll admit it. I am a bit of a movie snob. I prefer indie darlings over blockbusters, understated character studies over action-packed thrillers. My favorite directors are Wes Anderson and Stanley Kubrick, two hipster-approved auteurs.While these examples support my snobbery, I still own a few DVDs that are just begging to tell of my low-brow teenage years. These flicks cannot even be classified guilty pleasures at this point; they are simply guilty. In an attempt to become more accessible, humble reader, let me share them with you.
A Walk to Remember (Adam Shankman, 2002)
Starring: Shane West, Mandy Moore
Filed Under: Laura’s Unreasonable Romantic Expectations
Every film buff has to start somewhere. I started with this cloyingly sentimental Nicholas Sparks adaptation. My family did not even own a DVD player when I got it; I sat at our geriatric desktop computer and sniffled my way through multiple viewings.
The appeal: I was in the seventh grade and Shane West was an über-hottie. I plastered his pictures all over the inside of my locker. In the film, he was just as sweet as he was attractive. I had yet to realize that seniors in high school did not have his kind of bone structure, nor his level of blind commitment. A reformed jerk hitching himself up to a reverend’s dying wallflower? As far as I knew, that situation was archetypical of the teenage experience.
The message: Develop leukemia = get the guy.
The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants (Ken Kwapis, 2005)
Starring: Alexis Bledel, Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrera, Blake Lively
Alternate Title: Best Friends 4Eva!!!!!1!!11
Everyone knows the phrase “I am woman; hear me roar!” Movies like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants uphold a similar slogan: “I am girl, hear me talk about my besties for two hours.”
The Sisterhood came out during the stage of my life when friendships, especially those of the gal pal variety, were a life source. It was not enough to see chums in the hallway or send them notes in class. I went home with them after school. My mom chauffeured us on the weekends. I got a separate phone line in my room for three-way chats in between hang out sessions. (Looking back, it’s no wonder I’ve since adopted more introverted tendencies. I set myself up for social burn out.)
The appeal: Seeing four girls palling around was a treat because it was just like my life, right down to the Grecian getaways and soccer camp hijinks. Okay, not exactly. But my friends and I delighted in comparing and relating ourselves to the characters nonetheless. (My curves usually pegged me as a Carmen, but I still insist I am a Tibby.) These days, The Sisterhood is a little too saccharine for my taste. However, I cannot rag on it too much. It encourages the viewer to “Love your pals and love yourself.” That’s what it helped me to do.
Message: If the pants fit, share them.
The Hot Chick (Tom Brady, 2002)
Starring: Rob Schneider, Rachel McAdams, Anna Faris
Alternate Title: Clinging to Relevance: The Rob Schneider Story
There are three things I would like to tell my younger self. First, don’t waste your time thinking about boys. Second, if drama arises, ride it out. Third, if you genuinely like a film from Happy Madison Productions, remember that it has zero artistic merit and your fondness for it will someday become embarrassing.
Of course, I cannot share any of this wisdom. My twelve-year old self will go to my friend’s house, eat a Big New Yorker pizza, and watch The Hot Chick for months without every reflecting on the inanity of this routine.
The appeal: Simple, unadulterated buffoonery. The Hot Chick was the perfect antidote for times when I took myself too seriously (which was almost always). I shut my brain off for a while, chuckled uncontrollably with my cohorts, and repeated one-liners like a parrot. I reveled in the combined beauty of Rachel McAdams and Matthew Lawrence. I forged a connection with the Fat Best Friend Hildenburg. In short, The Hot Chick allowed me to embrace immaturity in a vicarious–and arguably necessary–way.
Message: If you suddenly become Rob Schneider and your partner still loves you, start thinking long-term.