Thursday, May 07, 2020

Worst five all-female films

Who you gonna call? The Samaritans, probably. 

1. Ocean's 8 (Ross, 2018)
2. Ghostbusters (Feig, 2016)
3. Hustlers (Scafaria, 2019)
4. Charlie's Angels (Banks, 2019)
5. Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (McG, 2013)

How many women make an 'all-female film'? 3? 8? What makes an all-female film? A lack of men? Women behaving like men? Women behaving worse than men? Women getting one over on men? All of the above?

What's interesting – and I realise I'm now perpetuating this – is how many articles there are highlighting the failure of these all-female films (not Hustlers, mind, which inexplicably got 4 stars in the Guardian – we (one of whom is a woman) found it unwatchable; I mean, not just that it was boring and had no plot or characters; no, rather that this is what a feminist film apparently is: women getting their own back on men. And buying lots of expensive handbags.), but any recent film consisting of a female reboot – Ghostbusters in particular bore the brunt – is automatically going to be accused of cashing in on the #metoo movement rather than being a genuine celebration of womankind.

Of course there are lots of excellent, genuine films featuring strong, female characters who are not just out-doing men: look at virtually the whole Studio Ghibli output, most Ingmar Bergman films, the recent Little Women adaptation, The Duke of Burgundy, 3 Women (inspired by Bergman's Persona, and a dream), Bridesmaids, and the French 8 Women and Girlhood are a few that spring to mind.

Previously on Barnflakes
My daughter's top ten films, aged 13


Anonymous said...

It was always a comedy trope that men were just more funny than women - and that was largely because it was true (however politically incorrect that sounds in today’s media environment). That’s not to say there weren’t absolutely tons of hilarious comediennes and characters packing out the casts of any old movie or tv show you care to mention. Gut busting in their own rights, as well as playing ‘straight man’ to a perhaps more showy Male performer. Tony Hancock is very funny in The Rebel - but it’s Irene Handl who gets the biggest laugh... “Oh you poor man, fancy knocking around with women like that”.

Stand up comedy however, until a few years ago, was a Male preserve. First of all in the 1960s and 1970s the women self edited (so didn’t have the edge required), they also weren’t sharp enough with a few exceptions - then in the 80s they decided they needed to break barriers (cue a ton of exclusively female issue comedy / periods, femidoms etc). I guess that growing, awkward teenage stage needed to be gone through and endured - but it didn’t lead to many laugh out loud moments, and none that have really lasted (when did you last see a retrospective of Rita Rudner on the telly?). The feminists then complained for years that there were no women on panel shows, or one token female - but it’s very clear when you watch shows from 20, 15, or even 10 years ago that the woman (or ethnic) on the panel was often contributing by far the least, and was only there to fill out a quota.

I do think it has changed over the last 10 years though. The women have got funnier, and sometimes edgier, which process ironically corresponds and overlaps with a process where the Male comedians have got much less funny, more insecure, and desperate to virtue signal and jump on any PC bandwagon. Political posturing is only funny if you’re a really clever performer and forensic about your subject matter, and most of them aren’t.

With these all female movies you’re talking about the whole approach is wrong. Red Dwarf is a typical example of an all Male comedy (which incidentally got less funny when they added a woman - but I assume that was just down to the writing losing it a bit over the later series)). A bunch of sad losers together winding each other up, getting into scrapes, and generally failing miserably / which has always been a constant since the Greek classical plays, Shakespeare and the Canterbury Tales. Steptoe and Son is another example - Porridge - every army comedy ever - etc etc. The thing all these Male based comedies have in common is that no-one ever, and I mean NEVER EVER, wrote an opinion piece in The Guardian saying that any of them was an example of ‘Male empowerment’. Never did that happen once. On the contrary, these people were sad and pathetic - and we’re meant to laugh at them, sometimes with them, and occasionally feel sorry or identify for their inadequacies. When you prioritise a political agenda and putting a message over the desire to produce a piece of genuine art you’re already lost (as I said, unless you’re very very talented enough to make it work - and those people are rare comedy geniuses).

I don’t think I’ve ever even smiled while watching a Melissa McCarthy movie. The humour is crude, obvious and just not funny at all. I am consistent there (in case you thought I was being sexist), because I never thought The Hangover was even mildly amusing either. Ray

Anonymous said...

If you want an example of a largely Male comedy long these lines, with a group of similar losers, but which has actually managed to incorporate women into the standard narrative relatively successfully, then there’s the example of The Big Bang Theory tv show. As with most of these things, that’s down to the quality of the writing and appropriate handling of the characters. Ray

Anonymous said...

(A few typos in there, but I was live typing so I have an excuse.)

Barnaby said...

Thanks for your thoughts Ray – longer than most of my posts! Some controversial comments made there, and I largely hear what you’re saying. I do agree, modern comedy is mostly gross-out puerile nonsense, no matter what the gender or agenda.