The last few years have not been kind to leading ladies.
First, dozens of female-fueled flicks had trouble selling tickets ("Catwoman," "Domino," "Prime"). Then, the breaking point came in the winter, when Jodie Foster's "The Brave One" and Nicole Kidman's "The Invasion" arrived as back-to-back underperformers, reportedly causing one major studio to declare that they'd no longer make movies with women in the lead.In fact, the last films from such supposedly major stars as Jennifer Lopez ("Bordertown"), Charlize Theron ("Sleepwalking") and Angelina Jolie ("A Mighty Heart") all lost money, and emerging stars like Rachel McAdams ("Married Life"), Emily Blunt ("Wind Chill") and Scarlett Johansson ("The Nanny Diaries") still can't guarantee a big opening weekend.
Now, Hollywood is implementing a new approach, one that will be filling the theaters with reinvigorated estrogen over the next few months. The emphasis is less on the women and more on the male characters that Hollywood hopes will put more boyfriends in those theater seats. The chick flick has undergone a kinder, gentler makeover, and it's leading to a wave of "Girls Gone Mild" flicks.
"This is a film about why she shouldn't get half," Ashton Kutcher told us recently about "What Happens in Vegas," a film that pairs him with Cameron Diaz to duke it out over a Vegas jackpot. "It becomes a dude, bro-mantic comedy."
Then there's "Made of Honor," which cleverly recycles the chick-flick plotline of someone involved in a wedding who is in love with the betrothed ("My Best Friend's Wedding," anyone?) but passes the Julia Roberts role to Patrick Dempsey.
"The tables are turned in this, and it's nice to see the guy, namely McDreamy, in that vulnerable position," explained Michelle Monaghan, who plays the conflicted bride in the flick. "So yeah, I thing guys are gonna dig it."
"It's a romance from a guy's point of view," echoed Dempsey, insisting that he appreciates the departure from the typical "it ain't easy being a gal" mentality of most chick flicks. "And there are a lot of scenes in this that I think the guys relate to."
August 22 brings us "The House Bunny" (formerly known as "I Know What Boys Like") a chick-heavy flick that hopes to become "Old School" with estrogen. The comedy takes Anna Faris, Katharine McPhee, Rumer Willis, Emma Stone and a half-dozen other female actresses and filters them through the twisted eyes of Happy Madison, Adam Sandler's production company.
"Adam has been so supportive of this project, and he has just been amazing," Faris told us of the flick, which casts her as a too-old Playboy bunny attempting to hold on to her glory days by moving in with a bunch of college kids. "He certainly knows what he is doing."
"I play the boyfriend," Colin Hanks chimed in, arguing that Faris' rare mix of beauty and physical comedy appeals to men as much as women. "Her character is under the impression that I'm really smart, so she tries to impress me first with her sexual mojo, and that doesn't really work, so she tries to go brainy, and that doesn't really work either. ... Let's face it: She's sort of like a comedy genius at this point, and she's pretty much the reason why I'm here. ... She's been making me laugh a lot."
Indeed, a revolution seems to be under way, changing the mindset from the days when someone like Jerry Lewis could declare that there has never been a funny comedienne. Names like Faris, Kristen Wiig and Sarah Silverman have made men fall in love with them during recent years for much more than the way they look on magazine covers.
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