Non-Romantic films for Valentine's Day
Not long ago, my sister took her newly single friend to the cinema. The friend was still in that emotional stage where everything reminded her of her ex, and it was decided that Inside Out would be a nice, safe, romance free film. What they hadn't banked on, was the short that preceded it - a little Pixar beauty called Lava, involving cute, coupled up animals and a lonely volcano who wants to find love. As you can imagine, there were tears before Inside Out even began.
This little anecdote got me thinking - how many films (especially those aimed at girls) are not love stories at heart? I looked up a few 'non-romantic' films lists, but the majority of these are action films, or films aimed at lads. So I thought I'd try to make my own list. Valentine's Day is about celebrating love, but if you're single this year and would rather watch films that celebrate friendship, family love, or even love for the beautiful game, I tried to keep you covered (if you're looking for something a bit more in the spirit of romance, you could try this post, on my favourite book-to-film kisses!) I struggled to find girly films without any romantic sub-plot, but any romance in the below list is either secondary to the story or proved to be less important than other things.
When Keira Knightly's singer-songwriter gets dumped by her newly famous boyfriend, she joins forces with Mark Ruffalo's newly un-employed music producer to make an album. This is a nice little film about making music and making your own way. There's some romance in it, but the most important stuff here are the friendships and the music. It's feel-good, the songs are catchy and it's interesting to see Keira Knightly in something other than a period drama - and doing her own singing!
Set in 1950's Mississippi, The Help is the story of three women, Abileen, Minnie and Skeeter, who work together to write an expose book from the point of view of 'the help' - the black women who raise white children in the segregated south. Emma Stone plays against type as 'plain' Skeeter but she does a good job, and I think Octavia Spencer (Minnie) got the Oscar for best supporting actress. Another feel-good film, about friendship and the fight for equality - and great costumes!
A teen chick-flick starring Emma Roberts and Jojo (the singer - remember her??) Aquamarine is about two best friends who are promised one wish by a mermaid who washes up in their pool - providing they help her find love before her birthday. Yes, it sounds like a love story, but the two main characters don't have any romance and the ending might surprise you. I thought this was fun with a sweet message about friendship. And Jojo's acting wasn't half bad.
Thelma and Louise
Okay, so this trailer makes this film look a lot jollier than it actually is, but Thelma and Louise is great on celebrating sisterhood and female empowerment. It gets pretty dark (attempted rape, murder and misogyny) but I love the two main characters and Callie Khouri's writing (she also created Nashville for ABC.) Brad Pitt also makes an appearance, and he's never looked better.
The protagonists may be dogs and a cat, but Homeward Bound is still one of the best films about friendship - in my opinion anyway. Shadow, Chance and Sassy are left behind while their family go away, and (not realising they'll be back soon) they try to find their way back home. It's a proper nostalgic nineties film, but still really watch-able. Covering love between friends, family love and love for pets - plus action, adventure and cute animals - what more could you need?
Bend it Like Beckham
In this classic noughties comedy, Parminder Nagra stars as Jess, a girl who just wants to play football, while her family would rather she married a nice Indian boy and studied to be a solicitor. When she meets Jules (Keira Knightly) and is encouraged to join a local team, her dreams start to feel like they could become a reality - but obviously there are obstacles. For one thing, girls can't play football professionally in this country (although our women's team actually win a lot more than the men do.) There's a bit of a love story in there (with team coach, Jonathan Rhys Meyers), but the football and the friendship takes centre stage.
The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants
Four best friends, four stories, one summer - and one pair of jeans. This is a heartfelt coming of age film with some beautiful locations and a great summery soundtrack. Lena's storyline (and also Bridget's in part) are romantic, but overall the theme is friendship and growing up. I love that the actresses playing the sisterhood (Blake Lively, America Ferrerra, Amber Tamblyn and Alexis Bledel) stayed friends in real life.
When it comes to 'competition' stories, we've had dance films, all kinds of sports films, roller-skating, ice-skating, choir films and cheerleader films. Stick it is a gymnastics film. Unlike Step up and it's ilk though, this did not make me want to become a gymnast - although it did make me respect them a hell of a lot. I loved this because I love watching gymnastics, but I also loved the camaraderie between the girls, and although the heroine wasn't the most like-able all the time, she was a bit different and I liked that.
Although I don't agree with the usual complaint that Disney princesses just sit around waiting for a man (hello? Mulan?) Frozen and Brave were the first princess films where the main character didn't have a love interest. Well, technically Anna has two guys on the go, but let's focus on Elsa. Brave is about mother/ daughter love (although how much did it rip off The Magic Sword and Brother Bear?!) while Frozen is about sisterly love. I'm not going to lie, I still much prefer Tangled to both of these, but I love Brave's look and the Let it Go scene in Frozen is great. And I like that little girls all want to be the sister with the powers, rather than the one with the boyfriend.
Can you think of any girly films without a romance in?
Tricky, isn't it? If you can, let me know in the comments!