We admit it: there was a time when we were as devoted to the original Sex and the City TV series as any other 21st-century girl. But then came the first movie, which was so fluffy and inane and contrived it seemed to negate any affection we could have had for Carrie and friends. Now, Sex and the City 2 has landed and promises to dominate the Memorial Day weekend box office… despite the fact that critics have declared it an irredeemable stinker. The movie’s current Metacritic score? Thirty-two. Stephanie Zacharek at Movieline calls it “a sad and ugly example of how terrific television can mutate into something that feels a lot like torture porn.”
So why are women lining up hours in advance to watch this demented spectacle? Many speculate that it has something to do with a lack of great movies about female friendship. While we would love to see more gal pals on the big screen, the Flavorpill staff would like to point out that there are a number of films out there featuring lady cliques we would much rather meet for cocktails. After the jump, check out 20 of our favorites.
1. 9 to 5 (1980) We have six words for you: Lily Tomlin. Jane Fonda. Dolly Parton. And if the cast isn’t enough to send 9 to 5 to the top of your Netflix queue, consider the plot. These three office ladies conspire to bring down their tyrannical, sexist boss. And Parton does the soundtrack, which includes her classic title track.
2. Friends with Money (2006) It’s hard to pick just one movie by Nicole Holofcener, who has been quietly making incredible movies about women’s friendships for the past 15 years. The women at the center of Friends with Money may be in the same age group as the SATC gals, but their problems are real and relatable: Failing marriages, professional angst, general aimlessness. But through it all, their commitment to each other is what holds the film together.
3. The Women (1939) Forget the awful Debra Messing/Meg Ryan remake. The original, starring Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford, was scandalous when it was released. This group of women may be scheming and competitive, but you can bet they have each other’s backs in the end.
4. Daisies (1966) Not familiar with the Czech New Wave? Get to know it with this ’60s masterpiece, featuring two wild girls named “Marie I” and “Marie II.” They make mischief, dance to music, and play men for fools, in a film so great it was banned by Soviet censors.
5. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (2007) There are the friends that go with you to buy condoms… and then there are the friends who go to great, dangerous lengths to help you procure an illegal abortion in ’80s Romania. Otilia Mihartescu (played with grace and subtlety by Anamaria Marinca) is nothing short of a hero.
6. Josie and the Pussycats (2001) An obvious precursor to Lady Gaga, this film about a teen-girl rock trio is packed with but also critical of product placement. The real heart of the story, though, is the friendship between the three girls in the band, which endures in spite of cartoonish record-label villains’ mind-control schemes. Plus, the casting (Rosario Dawson, Rachel Leigh Cook, Parker Posey, Steve Coogan, and Tara Reid in perhaps the only truly great role of her career) is brilliant.
7. Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) Featuring a cast of all-star actresses (Jessica Tandy! Mary Stuart Masterson! Kathy Bates! Mary-Louise Parker! Cicely Tyson!), this film is all about intergenerational female friendships among strong ladies in the South.
8. Thelma and Louise (1991) 1991 was a good year for gal-pal flicks. We all know how Thelma and Louise ends, but, as the cliché goes, isn’t it the journey that counts?
9. The Craft (1996) Deny it all you want: We know that in middle school, you secretly wanted to be part of this quartet of troubled teens turned witches. Aside from Fairuza Balk and Robin Tunney as ’90s-goth fashion plates, the film also features Skeet Ulrich, one of the era’s great forgotten hotties.
10. Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion (1997)
Ditsy but lovable, Romy and Michelle take their tenth high-school reunion by storm, decked out in plastic dresses. Sure, they haven’t done a whole lot with their lives since graduating, but at least they’re always there for one another.
11. Now and Then (1995) If you were a tween girl in the ’90s, the release of this movie was an event. Christina Ricci, Thora Birch, and Gaby Hoffman, with Teen Beat fave Devon Sawa… oh, and Rosie O’Donnell, Melanie Griffith, Demi Moore, and Rita Wilson, whoever they were. We were especially fond of the ’70s-tastic soundtrack. Jackson 5!
12. Céline and Julie Go Boating (1974) Sure, this Jacques Rivette epic is a whopping 193 minutes long. But this endorsement by a Flavorpill friend is good enough to make us set aside over three hours of time: “It’s the only movie where I totally wished I could be in that friendship (and wear those outfits!).”
13. Muriel’s Wedding (1994) Toni Colette plays an ABBA-crazy ugly duckling (unlikely, we know) living in Porpoise Spit, Australia. But she finds the way out of her family nightmare with the help of freewheeling new buddy Rachel Griffiths (better known as Brenda from Six Feet Under.)
14. Steel Magnolias (1989) Like Fried Green Tomatoes, Steel Magnolias stars a dream team of actresses playing tough Southern ladies: This time, it’s Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Julia Roberts, Olympia Dukakis, and Daryl Hannah. Watch them together with friends, a plateful of rich, Paula Deen-style food, and a jug of bourbon. And maybe some tissues.
15. Waiting to Exhale (1995) All you need to know about this movie about the friendship that unites four African-American women is this: Angela Bassett sets her cheating husband’s car on fire and then looks hot as shit walking away from the burning mess. A pre-meltdown Whitney Houston is also a treat.
16. Ghost World (2001) In this hipster/comic nerd favorite, Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson star as recently graduated high-school outcasts. As they fumble toward their futures (or lack thereof), forge unlikely friendships (hello, Steve Buscemi!), and begin to grow apart. Hey, not every female friendship lasts forever.
17. A League of Their Own (1992) This used to be their playground! One of the most memorable women-without-men movies of all time stars Rosie O’Donnell, Geena Davis, and Madonna(!) as the pioneering ladies of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. They spit, they get dirty, and they have the time of their lives… at least until the boys get back from war.
18. Boys on the Side (1995) It’s the all-American female roadtrip movie! And the title says it all. Who would you rather spend time in a car with than Whoopi, Mary-Louise Parker, and Drew Barrymore?
19. Foxfire (1997) The ultimate revenge fantasy, Foxfire tells the tale of teen girls who take matters into their own hands after they’re punished for reporting sexual harassment. Don’t miss a young Angelina Jolie, in one of her first major roles.
20. Me Without You (2001) Anna Friel and Michelle Williams play teenage BFFs in ’70s London. Michelle is sugar and Anna is spice, and the film follows them through three decades of rocky, on-again-off-again friendship.