Movies like “Dear John” have been demasculating men since the beginning of movie dates. Men have become so used to accepting these films as a necessary part of maintaining a relationship with their lady, they have seldom stopped to wonder what attracts women to these flicks. The leading women in romance movies like “Dear John” have the upper hand in relationships, sending the message that women not only seek a romantic lover, they also want someone who will pine for them. The following four movies appeal to women’s romantic notions by sending a message to the men forced to watch them: love me beyond all reason, and come chase me even after I leave you. Gentlemen, expect to cuddle. Hard.
“The Notebook” – Not only do Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams make a believable screen couple, but they also exude a passionate sexual chemistry. Women like “The Notebook” because the main characters are dynamic, and Allie (played by McAdams) displays a level of independence that any woman can admire. She is adorably feminine (it’s impossible not to fall in love with her), but she also has all the control in the situation. Poor Noah pines away for years going to lengthy extremes to prove that she’s his one and only. Even at the story’s end, Noah devotes his entire life to Allie’s happiness. And dies.
“Sex and the City“ – Okay, so the characters are flat and one-dimensional, the dialogue is sappy, and Sarah Jessica Parker resembles a horse, but there’s something about this god-forsaken show that makes people lose their minds. In the melodramatic movie version of the popular HBO show, Carrie (Parker) decides to marry her longtime on-again-off-again fling, who she calls “Big.” (As in “Mr. Big.” And no, that’s not referring to what you think it is.) The movie is actually an extended version of the show: Big hurts Carrie, Carrie gets over it with the help of her three sassy friends (who also have their own crises developing into uninteresting plotlines), Carrie realizes that she can be okay as a single woman, and then Big does something romantic, and Carrie gets back with him.
“When Harry Met Sally” – As far as chick flicks go, this is one of the most endurable. Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal have an onscreen chemistry, the writing is snappy, the dialogue is funny, and the movie addresses one of the much-believed maxims of this day and age: “men and women can’t be friends.” Harry (Crystal) posits that that sex always gets in the way. While that view is somewhat dismal, you may find yourself finding Harry’s belief coming close to the mark. For men, this is a point-of-view victory over the course of the film, as Harry and Sally do in fact demonstrate the impossibility of a non-sexual relationship. For women, it provides a glimpse of the right kind of relationship. While Sally is beautiful, she’s not a flake. She’s difficult, engaging, and smart, and the fact that Harry wants so badly to be her friend shows that men do differentiate between good old-fashioned harlots and real women with actual thoughts and passions.
“The Way We Were” – This movie, starring Robert Redford and Barbara Streisand, deals with the idea that opposites attract, but are destined for relationship failure. Women can sympathize with Katie (Streisand), a stubborn liberal who never backs down in any argument. Katie follows her principles all the way to the death of her relationship, and the cheating Hubbell doesn’t even have to take the blame for his indiscretions. Men, if you’re watching this movie with your lady, and you look over to see a far-away look in her eyes, she’s thinking about her own Hubbell, the guy she really wants. So pull her in for a romantic kiss, take advantage of her sappiness, and maybe during this moment of vulnerability, she’ll let you feel her up.