A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Chick Fight is a female-driven comedy from mostly male filmmakers about an underground women's fight club. The idea is that beating other people up is therapeutic and gives you courage to make bold decisions in life. Under the guise of feminism, the movie suggests that if women handle their frustrations like men, they'll be better equipped to deal with life's challenges. This problematic message is accentuated by the fact that apparently the only person capable of training lead character Anna (Malin Akerman, also a producer) is a grizzled, drunken man (Alec Baldwin). The movie's title also has sexist, demeaning connotations. In addition to heavy drinking, characters smoke pot, cigars, and cigarettes. Extremely raunchy language ("f--k," "s--t," and much more), crude gestures, and explicit sexual details are abundant, but on-camera activity is limited to kissing. One character realizes late in life that he's bisexual. Other than one bar fight to counteract bullies, all the fighting (punching, kicking, body slamming) occurs in the ring -- and it gets bloody.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Is it any good?
Adults can figure out whether this funny-but-imperfect film rings their bell, but as a go-girl comedy for teens, Chick Fight doesn't quite make weight. When you're creating a (supposed) female-empowerment film, you can't ask women to lace up the gloves and then also make them the punchline. "Learn to fight, stay in the ring, and beat the s--t out of life" is this film's oft-repeated mantra. As a metaphor, it's a cheer line: Yes! But then the concept gets KO'd. First, there's the message's literal execution, earnestly stating that pummeling another person is therapeutic. Things get further confused by making female fighters a joke. And then there's the demeaning title, which drums up stereotypes of women at each other's throats. While stating that women put on gloves to let off steam or settle a beef ("we fight it out, then we hug it out"), primary characters Anna and Olivia (Bella Thorne) are squabbling about a man (sigh).
The issue could be that men made this film about women. At moments, the lack of an authentic voice is felt. For example, Anna has taken a vow of chastity, but when a male doctor (Kevin Connolly) makes a lewd overture to her, she jumps on him, and they have sex in a hospital broom closet. Is it funny? To a few. Is it straight male fantasy? More likely. Does it completely sell out Anna and her values and beliefs? Absolutely. The raunchy humor doesn't ring true either -- it's not Bridesmaids, it's Beavis and Butthead. It could be that women aren't so much the audience here as the packaging -- after all, who does child-actress-turned-erotica-provacateur Thorne wearing tight, revealing fight gear really appeal to?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Chick Fight's messages. What rings true? What doesn't? Is "fighting" intended to be a metaphor -- or do you think they mean it literally?
Is this a feminist film? Do you think male filmmakers can tell a story about women authentically? What about the other way around? Why, or why not? Are there exceptions?
What positive representations did you notice in the film? Why is it important to see characters from different walks of life in movies and on TV? Can crude behavior detract from a character's effectiveness at representing a marginalized group?
Considering that nearly all of the film's violence is in a controlled atmosphere, would you consider this a "violent" movie? Do you think it glamorizes violence toward women?
- In theaters: November 13, 2020
- On DVD or streaming: December 15, 2020
- Cast: Malin Akerman, Bella Thorne, Alec Baldwin
- Director: Paul Leydon
- Studio: Quiver Distribution
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language and sexual material throughout, some violence and brief drug use
- Last updated: October 4, 2021
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