Split Decision: Comedies Starring Women

Welcome back to Split Decision! Each week, we pose a question to our staff of knowledgable and passionate film geeks and share the responses! We may never know if it is legal to park in the center of Broad Street, but we’ll answer movie questions all day long. Chime in on Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments below!

This week’s question:

In honor of Amy Schumer’s new film, I Feel Pretty, what is your favorite comedy (romantic or otherwise), with a female lead?

This is a toughie. I love Spy and Melissa McCarthy saying, “Just missing a shirt that says I’ve never felt the touch of a man,” will never not be funny. Also her scenes with Jason Statham are ridiculously good. But for the sake of being different I’ll go with Mean Girls. For one thing, it was written by Tina Fey, and even though I sometimes have problems with her self-deprecating shtick, this movie is hilarious on top of being truthful on a number of issues. It also does a nice job of not judging phases that teens go through but rather chronicles the journey of growing out of being “mean.” In any other teen comedy I think Rachel McAdams character would be the loser, the character everyone turns on in a moment of self-righteousness but that doesn’t happen. Mostly everyone gets a satisfying conclusion that appreciates the unique dynamics of teenage friendship. People change, you’re not always going to be close but you can always be civil. You go Glen Coco! — Jill Malcolm

I am stoopid for Sandra Bullock. She mambos. I tend to lose all critical faculty when it comes to her because she just charms and amuses me no end. I prat-fell for her in Miss Congeniality, which probably ranks as my favorite comedy with a female lead. Hell, I even love the sequel. And to go a step further, and show how devoted I am to Sandra B, I will confess that I adore Bullock’s Razzie-winning All About Steve, where she plays a misfit who lets her freak flag fly chasing a man she thinks she loves. I totally “got” her performance and the film, with is “outsiders unite” message.

And if you want my pick for unintentionally funny comedy with a female lead, The Boy Next Door, starring Jennifer Lopez. Truly hilarious, and a classic.–Gary M. Kramer

I’m late to the party on this one, but it’s gotta be 9 to 5! For years I dismissed this movie, always figuring it was probably good but inessential and not to my specific taste. However, circumstances recently placed it in front of me, and it was simply amazing. Not only was it much less niche than I’d always assumed, but it was downright hilarious. Who knew that a movie from close to forty years ago could feel so modern, so fresh, so relevant?

The trio at the center form a perfect storm of comedy and heart. Lily Tomlin is ice cold as Violet, who works herself ragged and gets no love. Jane Fonda’s Judy finds strength in the naivety assumed to her by her male counterparts. And Dolly Patton’s Doralee reluctantly plays into a system that covets her physicality, ready to spring on any opportunity that comes her way. Their three different responses to sexism in the workplace – and the extremes they unwittingly go to in an effort to combat it – are comedy gold. Truly one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. —Dan Scully

I have to go with the ‘90s teen classic Clueless! It stars three incredible women in its lead roles (Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, and the late Brittany Murphy). On top of that, it was written and directed by Amy Heckerling. I will never get sick of this movie. It goes all out on campy teen movie clichés, it’s dripping with ridiculous slang, and the costumes are so deeply ‘90s. The best part, however, is that it’s incredibly self-aware as it paints the satirical portrait of high school in the ‘90s, totally avoiding being some dated, hokey rom-com. This movie is seriously smart, and somehow manages to stand the test of time as one of the best teen comedies of all time (in my not so humble opinion). Also, Cher (Silverstone) ending up with her step-brother (Paul Rudd) is not weird. Their parents got married (and divorced), like, really recently. They were not raised as siblings, and didn’t even come close to growing up together, so let’s just put this issue to bed. If you think it’s weird, then you’re probably just a virgin who can’t drive. Catherine Haas

I will double down on the Sandra Bullock, as the first film that came to mind was The Heat. Her co-starring action comedy with Melissa McCarthy, directed by Paul Feig, killed me a lot. She is the perfect neurotic straight character, and her team up with the bull-in-the-china-shop McCarthy was inspired. —Andy Elijah

And I’ll double down on McCarthy, as Paul Feig’s Spy was the first thing that came to mind. I saw that on the strength of the talent involved but was kind of dreading what looked like might be a dud. Instead I was treated to one of my favorite comedies of the last decade, that to me was all about feminism and body positivity. There’s a lot to love here, and I love that it highlights Statham’s comedic chops, but the scene that sticks out to me is McCarthy’s glamour moment when she finally decides to ditch the cat lady costumes her superiors keep trying to put her in and gets this gorgeous black dress to attend a gala in. It’s a moment of self realization for her character that sincerely almost made me cry, as she looks so stunning in those scenes and spends the rest of the movie proving how utterly cunning and capable she is. I love how empowering it all feels, and if they ever make a sequel I hope they go even harder at these themes as they continue to be relevant and necessary in entertainment.—Garrett Smith


I’m going to really tie this whole McCarthy/Feig love fest together by picking the Ghostbusters reboot. I liked it a lot when it came out, but I’ve watched it a few times since then, and it manages to be both a love letter to the franchise as well as a very funny comedy with four of the funniest women working today in the same film. McCarthy and Wiig are great, but Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon were huge revelations for someone who never watches SNL. And I love these characters too. They are great to spend time with, and they’ve even done a crossover comic where they meet with the original Ghostbusters that was a blast.  —Ryan Silberstein

I have to go with 9 to 5. It’s perfect, still feels scary relevant and doesn’t revolve around a love interest or female competition. It’s about getting back at the worst boss in the history of bosses and the musical it spawned is also adorable. Plus, Dolly Parton is at her most earnest and Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda are legendary talents. It comments on the grind of working 9 to 5 and is sweet without being saccharine. I also find 70’s decor to be deliciously tacky and soothing.–Jenna Kuerzi

Author: Ryan Silberstein

Ryan spends his days at a company named one of the best to work for in the Philadelphia area, and his nights as a mysterious caped vigilante saving his city from the disease that is crime watching movies. He lives on a diet consisting of film, comic books, experimental beer, black coffee, and those big metal historical markers around town. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.

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