So after seeing far too many chick flicks in my day, I have realized there are some very basic elements common to all of them. I couldn’t help but write this out.
The movie always starts with the protagonist who is an undeniably cool person but the audience is shocked as to why he (or she… this whole setup goes either way) is single or dating a archetypal loser. The best friend/ bar tender/ landlord/ ex-sister in law/ coworker quickly enters the picture. This confidant then helps the audience understand why the protagonist is in this situation: he has given up on love. This is usually because of a previous or ongoing bad relationship, but it could be just because this guy is completely unlucky.
Enter the love interest. They must meet in a very mundane place. They are in a store or on a park bench; he is completely surprised by her wit and charm. They typically have some meta conversation about how awkward/unusual their situation is (sneaking in a “… with a cute girl/guy” in there) and they linger just a titch. Then one of them leaves… but typically without exchanging numbers or deciding on a place to meet up again.
The protagonist returns home and the confidant instantly realizes something is different, the protagonist is happy… even giddy. The protagonist gets teased a bit and sheepishly tries unsuccessfully to deny the allegations. He then explains that it doesn’t matter because he will never see her again.
Surprise of all surprises! They meet up again, in the absolute most random way. You always wondered why most chick flicks are in big cities? It’s so them meeting back up is completely impossible! But alas, destiny finds a way and he sees her again. Usually this queues the mini-chase scene where he asserts himself to get her number, perhaps interrupting a Yoga class or a business meeting.
The date scene. This is absolute blissful innocent love. If a guy is the protagonist they do something simple, if a girl is the protagonist they go someplace crazy (like flying an airplane, or to a famous museum, or a baseball field). No matter where they go, they end up having an intimate conversation about their childhood or something similar. They end up looking up at the stars/lights and talking about the deep thoughts of their soul.
Oh my goodness, they are in love. The movie usually keeps up with this for a good time, just to show how perfect these two people are and how in love the protagonist is.
But then the big misunderstanding. The protagonist discovers that his new-found girlfriend has a girlfriend, or was only dating him for a dare, or is the evil big bookstore owner… The protagonist completely overreacts, but the audience is led to believe that his actions are rational.
He gives up for good. Not only on love, but our protagonist gives up on his current way of life. He takes the nice job or school opportunity or old girlfriend on the other side of the nation (or is going to move in with her) and begins to pack up his stuff.
Return of the confidant. The confidant has up to this point only given marginally helpful advice, but usually just comic relief. This is his/her time to shine, he gives the one jewel of advice to the protagonist or the love interest, either way he/she is able to ultimately dispel the misunderstanding. But there is just one problem, our protagonist is already leaving and has given up hope.
THE CHASE SCENE! It isn’t a chick flick without a chase scene. This is where the love interest fights for the love of the protagonist. The chase scene just seems to get more and more ridiculous in recent movies. After stealing a kid’s tricycle, renting a plane, and getting a rock star to help out… the love interest finally is able to catch up to the protagonist and express her love, dispelling all doubt. Typically this has the exasperated love interest exclaiming (in the rain/mud/snow/in front of a packed stadium/street/wedding chapel) “did you really mean this?!” To which the protagonist declares his undying love. The audience is shocked, there was no way they were getting back together.
That’s pretty much the end, but typically the movie shows a wedding just for the doubters in the audience. The confidant ends up with some minor character in the movie, usually meeting at the wedding.
Theme. The general theme of a chick flick is balancing the harsh “reality” of life with the innocent optimism of love. Usually characters bounce back in forth between the two extremes, ultimately siding with love with a dash of reality. The writers know they are writing for a bunch of girls wearing their pajamas eating chocolate ice-cream on a lonesome Friday night as they attempt to console the one girl who just broke up with a boy.
The difference between adult chick flicks and teen ones. Love in the adult ones has to do with working out your differences whereas the teen ones portray love in a Twilight manner: someone is completely obsessed with you and will do everything for you. Also the teen ones are typically much more crude and talk about sex/anatomy for cheap laughs. Essentially adult films are more mature, but I suppose that makes sense.