Science fiction movies and chick flicks have been mortal enemies ever since Annie Hall trounced Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Star Wars at the 1977 Oscars. They exist at opposing ends of the convenient audience stereotype spectrum, with the sci-fi films representing adolescent male power fantasies wrapped in gratuitous special effects and implausible techno-babble, while the chick flicks embody all the unrealistic expectations of comically perfect fairy tale courtships. Or so the Hollywood marketing departments would have us believe.
But what, pray tell, of when worlds collide, and the sci-fi geek needs a genre film that will satisfy his romantic comedy-craving muggle girlfriend? Well, he consults this list of conflated sci-fi/fantasy chick flicks:
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - In a world where you can pay a doctor to erase painful memories (hey, sci-fi), Jim Carrey has second thoughts about deleting his recollection of dating Kate Winslet (hey, relationship drama). Deep, meaningful, and creepily non-linear. Plus, a B-plot with Spider-Man's girlfriend and Frodo Baggins.
- The Princess Bride - What do you get when you cross When Harry Met Sally with The Lord of the Rings? The only romantic comedy to make Andre the Giant a comic relief sidekick, Billy Crystal an alchemist, and a son's quest for vengeance into the most ironically funny punchline ever. Inconceivable!
- Contact - What looks like a space nerd's dream quest to prove the existence of life on other planets, or perhaps even validate the role of faith in the human condition, is really just the story of little girl who misses her dead father. Guys, enjoy the math puzzles. Ladies, enjoy the emotional manipulation.
- Gattaca - Ethan Hawke's determination to fulfill his childhood dreams despite genetic chauvanism is a classic emotional journey to which women — who deal with their own glass ceilings based on biology — will readily relate. Men, however, will have no trouble rooting for a guy who wants nothing more than to become an astronaut and date Uma Thurman. Bravo.
- Deep Impact - A giant plot device forces the entire planet (which is to say, a bunch of people from the United States) to deal with their own mortality and resolve their outstanding relationship issues ASAP. Don't worry guys, that plot device is a ginormous asteroid that does eventually smack up Mother Earth, despite some awesome astronaut-and-nuclear-weaponry action sequences that, somehow, lead to yet more weepy tearjerker scenes. It's a win-win for everybody.
Did I miss a sci-fi chick flick? Make the case in the comments section.
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Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can also follow him on his personal blog.