Via the magic of electronic mail (a/k/a “e-mail”), I was asked by a blogging buddy – why hello there, Jess Witkins – if I’d be interested in writing a themed post about women in film whom I consider guilty pleasures, to coincide with her Friday Top 5 Cinematic Men who are guilty pleasures post. She was looking for a male’s perspective and wanted to represent both genders, and came to me
after seven other bloggers bailed on her because she likes my writing. Sniffing an opportunity to do a little bit of link swapping, I ditched my plans for a post on Goatskin Moccasin Weaving Techniques Of Himalayan Sherpas (which I can always cover another time, as it’s a topic that is entertaining all year long) and decided to go for it.
First off, let’s define what constitutes a “guilty pleasure.” Take it away, Wikipedia:
A guilty pleasure is something one enjoys and considers pleasurable despite feeling guilt for enjoying it. The “guilt” involved is sometimes simply fear of others discovering one’s lowbrow or otherwise embarrassing tastes.
In other words, if you think Michael Bolton walks on water and can’t go a day without hearing Time, Love And Tenderness, then you’ve got yourself a bona fide case of guilty pleasureitis (and also, you should really see a doctor about that). So, in order to come up with a list of 5 women in cinema that I consider guilty pleasures, I can’t just talk about the actresses whose work I admire most (favorites like Kate Winslet and Annette Bening and Cate Blanchett, who melt into every role they’re given and turn out truly remarkable performances time and again). Meryl Streep is not a guilty pleasure, but Jennifer Lopez could be, for example. According to Jess’s rules, I can pick either an actress or a specific role.
OK, then. With that criteria in mind, here is my list of the Top 5 Cinematic Women I consider to be guilty pleasures.
- Jessica Alba. Let’s face it, Jessica Alba isn’t much of an actress, but what she lacks in thespian skills, she more than makes up for in sexiness. That body…that incredible body. Happy sigh. I have watched movies that I knew would be absolutely terrible just because there were scenes where Jessica prances around in a bikini (Into The Blue). I have, in fact, seen a whole bunch of films I otherwise had no interest in – none, zero – merely because she appeared in them. Movies like Honey and Fantastic Four and Little Fockers. The mere possibility that I might get to see a little bit of exposed Jessica flesh gets my blood pumping and causes me to rearrange my Netflix queue so that Good Luck Chuck is number one.
- Piper Perabo in Coyote Ugly. Piper who-a-bo?? She may not exactly be a household name – rumor has it she’s working at Subway nowadays – but back in 2000, she burst onto the scene playing Violet Sanford, an aspiring musician who takes a job as a waitress/bartender in Coyote Ugly. What makes Piper so engaging in this role? She slithers around, and sometimes on top of, the bar in various states of undress, occasionally cavorting with her equally scantily-clad coworkers. She’s cute and plucky, an innocent girl who transforms into someone a little grittier and dirtier. I like that. The movie is flashy and loud, with a rock ‘n roll soundtrack, and there’s a surprisingly poignant backstory. Plus, did I mention all that eye candy?
- Julie Andrews. I’m sure I could come up with a long list of actresses I like purely based on sex appeal, but that would be missing the point. Guilty pleasures involve more than just hot bodies, which is not a knock on Julie Andrews at all. I’m sure beneath her nun’s habit she’s rockin’ it, but she made a career in the mid-60s based on a wholesome image…and it’s pretty endearing. I used to mock The Sound Of Music – all that singing and frolicking despite the approach of the Nazis seemed unrealistic – until I actually watched the movie, and fell promptly in love with it. Nannies who burst into song may not be “cool,” but who wouldn’t want to hang out with Maria – or Mary Poppins – for an afternoon? I even – gulp – like her in The Princess Diaries.
- Jennifer Aniston. Sitcom stars rarely morph into acclaimed actors (unless their first names are Tom and their last names, Hanks). Television characters are notoriously one-dimensional to begin with, and Jennifer Aniston will forever be associated with Rachel on Friends. She even had a trendy haircut named after her alter-ego – it’s hard to take somebody like that seriously. But you know what? She’s good, as anybody who has seen The Good Girl can attest, and regardless of the role, she delivers. I like Jennifer because chances are if she’s in a movie, I’ll enjoy it: Office Space, The Break-Up, Bruce Almighty, Along Came Polly, Derailed – I loved them all, and in this summer’s Horrible Bosses she is crude, funny, and sexy as hell.
- Lady in Lady And The Tramp. Nobody said my favorite cinematic females had to be human or non-animated, and simply put, Lady And The Tramp is the best Disney movie of all time. Why? There is danger (a rat on the loose, ready to attack a baby!), drama (Lady is caught by the dogcatcher!) and a classic battle between good and evil (a pair of conniving Siamese cats trying to make the dogs look bad in front of Aunt Sarah, Jim Dear and Darling). Best of all, though? Only the most romantic scene in movie history: Lady and Tramp sharing a bowl of spaghetti under a moonlit sky while being serenaded by an Italian chef, and sharing a surprise kiss. If that doesn’t tug at your heartstrings, you’re made of stone, my friend.
There you go! Those are mine…what about yours? Which actresses (or actors, or cartoon characters) do you consider guilty pleasures?