“Legally Blonde” has been a cultural staple for little girls since the creation of the first film starring Reese Witherspoon as the pink and powerful Elle Woods. That was way back in 2001, though.
Luckily for all the children of newer generations looking to be inspired by a brilliant law school babe, Witherspoon, while wearing a hot pink bikini no less, recently confirmed the production of a third installment of the girl-power movie franchise. In light of the news, here are four other girl-power movies that also deserve remakes (or sequels, in some cases).
1. “Mean Girls” (2004)
Of course, anyone who has ever been on the internet for longer than five minutes has heard of this highly quotable high school comedy starring Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams and Tina Fey. Although the film did have a made-for-television 2011 sequel, the small-screen adaptation never reached the level of cult-following, meme-making fame that the original garnered.
In the hands of an intelligent screenwriter — perhaps even the next Tina Fey? — the high school atmosphere can be a fecund source of inspiration for the next girl-power movie, especially nowadays, given the extra drama that social media and cell phones provide.
Still, as a number of high school film flops have proven, the formula can be difficult to balance, and no movie has come close to rivaling the bizarre verisimilitude that “Mean Girls” achieved nearly 15 years ago.
Characters like the smart, confused, home-schooled Cady Heron mashed together with queen bee Regina George and oddball Janis Ian to create a pathos-filled narrative that underscored the importance of compassion.
In their competition for popularity, neither Cady nor Regina ends up successful, and all the conniving side characters ultimately find themselves in some kind of turmoil before everyone eventually realizes that high school is temporary, most girl fights are superficial and friendship is the only thing that matters.
By immersing the viewer in a wacky, hyperbolic high school experience — where everybody talks in that really weird way that adult writers try to portray as the vernacular of teenagers, such as trying to “make ‘fetch’ happen” — “Mean Girls” is able to communicate a message about kindness and bigger-picture living without sacrificing humor or memorability.
Maybe audiences could even see Lohan reprise her role as Cady by being a teacher at her high school, dishing out lines on par with Coach Carr’s “Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die!”
2. “The Princess Diaries” (2001)
Anne Hathaway made this early-2000s girl-power movie a crowning achievement by embodying the newly appointed princess Mia Thermopolis, who begins the film as the awkward, shy, high school daughter of a single mother with a secret. The movie gives viewers a makeover narrative with strong family ties, lessons on responsibility and the visual testimony of a young woman gaining the confidence to rule a country. Overall, a win in my book.
What “The Princess Diaries” has to offer for a remake is much more than the nostalgic empire it’s built; indeed, the movie presents an unlimited number of possibilities for another sequel or a remake, though updated for the modern age.
Audiences could watch Mia teach her own child about being a kind ruler, deal with problematic diplomats or become a royal hostage. Maybe, Hathaway could even toy around with some cool princess tech, à la the bachelor screening system in “The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.”
Contemporary additions could give viewers the same fantasy princess sense of the original while stepping past the boy drama issues of the first two films (which, face it, gave the film that extra teen emotional edge, especially with the coveted foot-popping kiss). In a day and age where male leaders are still dominating the political landscape, being able to see a thoughtful and eager princess helping out her country would be some welcome relief.
3. “13 Going on 30” (2004)
Although not as much meme material or gif fodder as the first two movies seem to be, this comedic, time-traveling, girl-power movie starring Jennifer Garner as the grownup Jenna Rink is memorable in its messages of acceptance, integrity and girls making it in the world. Plus, everyone got to see a boyish-photographer version of Mark Ruffalo.
I can only imagine the beauty a remake of this movie would radiate. The 1990s or early 2000s young Jenna could jam out to NSYNC, collect Beanie Babies and wear a tank top and jeans combo that exposes the majority of her midriff without a care in the world about an afternoon breeze.
Adult Jenna could have all the complications of being thrust into a world bursting with social media and finding her childhood love interest online would be so much easier. A remake of this movie is perfect for any generation, not only for the girl-power vibes but also for the reminder to stop and take life slowly. If any movie could survive a remake, the time-hopping, pop-culturally rooted “13 Going on 30” would be a near perfect choice.
4. “10 Things I Hate About You” (1999)
The ultimate girl-power movie of the last 20 years has to be this “Taming of the Shrew” inspired high school rom-com starring Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger and an itty-bitty Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Stiles plays the catty feminist, Kat Stratford, who stands up for her beliefs in English class and distances herself from boys she deems unnecessary.
Kat’s witty and fierce persona makes her seem unapproachable (even her father asks, “Make anyone cry today?” to which Kat responds, “Not yet, no. But it’s only 4:30”), but through Heath Ledger’s help as love interest Patrick Verona, Kat comes into her own as a strong girl who isn’t afraid to be in love, too.
This movie, a well-loved teen comedy classic, embodies the girl-power movie vibe in a way that can easily be transferred to 2018. I mean, who hasn’t heard the endless talk about angry feminists? Kat’s character could explore a stereotype of feminism for younger girls and older viewers to learn from, and the pointed critique of Kat’s white feminism by English teacher Mr. Morgan could be greatly expanded in this day and age.
Still, aside from all the great messages of empowerment and thoughtfulness (like when Gordon-Levitt’s character Cameron tells off his love interest, Bianca Stratford, for using him when she knows he likes her — although, this conversation does end in a kiss, so it’s not much of a message), “10 Things I Hate About You” also shows the sweet love story of Kat and Patrick, and the way the Stratford sisters’ father deals with being a worried single parent.
Hilarity ensues when Kat drunk dances on a table and knocks herself out, and when Kat and Patrick pelt each other with paintball guns on a beautifully childish date. This movie is raw and magical, fantastical but with true high school issues. Society could only benefit from a remake of this endearing film.