Movies:Summer of Women

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Magic Mike XXL
Mad Max
Inside Out

Movies:Summer of Women

By Jacob Oller

The three best films this summer were all about the ladies.

Mad Max: Fury Road, Inside Out, and Magic Mike XXL, the first two certified critical darlings and the third a divisive test of carnal appreciation, share an important factor traditionally ignored by Hollywood: they love, love, love the ladies.

No, they’re not your standard romantic comedy drivel of unlucky-in-love would-be brides and hunky, smoldering, and damaged-but-fixable love interests.

Fury Road is a pounding, fiery hell scream of Valkyries in a desert escaping from the apocalyptic terror that has abused them.

Inside Out journeys into a preteen’s emotions (of whom, three-fifths are voiced by women) in a loving, nuanced, affecting way.

And Magic Mike XXL, well… You know how most romantic movies feel sterile? Like the shredded cowboy abs were just airbrushed and disinfected before plastically appearing from under a t-shirt like a G.I. Joe action figure? Magic Mike isn’t afraid to acknowledge that women have desires a lot like men have desires. They can be different, sexual, and dirty – but most importantly is that they’re unique.

If anything, Magic Mike sums up the radical new way this summer’s hits have approached their female audience: as a mixed demographic of individuals. For too long, movies have taken the approach of a movie for action fans, a movie for comedy fans, a movie for serious drama fans, and – oh here – a movie for women. Here’s an Eat Pray Love to tide you over while our sci-fi and action films have laughably few females. The most female protagonists in genre filmmaking appear in horror, where our leads have the exciting opportunity to be tortured, raped, stalked, and eventually killed.

Surprising no one, the films that are thinking beyond box office dollars are also thinking beyond this outdated conception of women in film.

I heard a friend of mine say he wouldn’t see Magic Mike XXL because it would make him feel bad about his body. That this is his first brush with the body-image issues rampant in our culture (especially in TV/movies – look at all the slobby Kevin James types of the sitcom world married to their skinny, beautiful wives) makes it apparent how important and depressingly novel this summer’s crop of female-centric films has been.

So take yourself, or that woman in your life, to Magic Mike. Rent Fury Road. Embrace these films that go against the grain so that we get more of them. Let your daughters have a superhero to dress up as for Halloween in Charlize Theron’s one-armed star in Mad Max: Fury Road and let your girlfriends have a movie exploring their fantasies in Magic Mike XXL. Embrace maturity with your whole family with Inside Out.

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