Reel Jane’s Favorite Friendship Flicks

Published: June 14, 2007 | Last Updated: June 16, 2007 By | 2 Replies Continue Reading

I asked Jane Louise Boursaw, a freelance journalist who specializes in movies and television, to recommend her favorite flicks portraying female friendships. She has created a wonderful list of movies that reveal the depth and richness of these bonds.


If you haven’t seen one or more of them, rent one with a friend, sit back with some popcorn, and use these movies as a springboard for thought and discussion. Read Jane’s list:

There’s a saying that goes like this: "Friends help you move. Good friends help you move a body," says Jane. "I’m sure the gal-pals in these movies would all agree with that. Read on for my top ten friendship movies."


1. THELMA AND LOUISE (1991). Who among us hasn’t had "one of those days"? Things go from bad to worse, and you just feel like kicking butt, shooting something, and escaping to Mexico in a classy convertible. Not an option? Ok, then watch Thelma and Louise do it in style. Tall and beautiful, Geena Davis plays Thelma, a woman whose surly hubby wants her to stay home and be quiet so he can watch football in peace. Susan Sarandon plays Louise, a streetwise waitress with her own relationship woes. After a girlfriends-night-out, the two end up on the road trip from hell — no money, a trail of crime scenes behind them, and the cops in hot pursuit. Hey, guys come and go. Girlfriends are forever.


2. BEACHES (1988). When rich debutante Hillary (Barbara Hershey) meets struggling child performer C.C. (Bette Midler) at an Atlantic City resort, it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Oh sure, they have their ups and downs, and even fall for the same guy at one point. But through it all, they discover they really ARE the wind beneath each other’s wings. Pass the Kleenex, please.


3. MYSTIC PIZZA (1988). Julia Roberts was a nobody ’til this movie launched her into stardom. She’s one of three pizza parlor waitresses in the small Connecticut town of Mystic. The girls ponder love, marriage, and of course, that secret pizza recipe ingredient that’s making headlines. Annabeth Gish and Lili Taylor also star in this 80’s girlfriend movie.


4. STEEL MAGNOLIAS (1989). Dolly Parton runs a local beauty salon in a small Louisiana town. But girls don’t just stop in for perms and manicures. They dish about everything under the sun. Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Darryl Hannah, Julia Roberts… It doesn’t get much better than that.


5. FIRST WIVES CLUB (1996). Middle-aged men everywhere better watch their step and think twice about dumping their wives for younger women. Especially if those wives are Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, or Diane Keaton, who don’t mind taking Ivana Trump’s advice: "Don’t get mad. Get everything."


6. FRIED GREEN TOMATOES (1991). This sentimental movie paints a picture of two friendships – one in the present, one in 1920’s and 30’s Alabama. Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy play the modern friends who meet at Tandy’s retirement home. Mary Stuart Masterson and Mary-Louise Parker are the spunky friends from the past whose friendship survives an abusive husband, a seriously injured child, and a murder trial. Towanda!


7. A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN (1992). Penny Marshall’s popular dramedy sheds light on a little-known chapter of American sports history – the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, formed when guys went off to fight in WWII, leaving a shortage of men’s baseball teams. The movie begins with savvy baseball scout (Jon Lovitz) finding a pair of promising sisters (Geena Davis, Lori Petty) on a farm in Oregon. They’re signed to play for the Rockford Peaches and end up forming strong friendships with the other girls, including Mae (Madonna) and Doris (Rosie O’Donnell). But don’t forget Tom Hanks’ memorable line as an alcoholic coach: "There’s no crying in baseball!"


8. BAGDAD CAFÉ (1988). This quirky movie stars Marianne Sägebrecht as a German woman abandoned by her husband in the Mojave desert and taken into a kooky community at a remote café. She forms an unlikely friendship with the café’s owner (C.C.H. Pounder), and a blossoming romance with artist Jack Palance. The sepia-toned colors give this film a magical, time-standing-still feel, and the music is indescribably beautiful.


9. THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS (2005). Four close friends discover a pair of magical jeans that fit them all perfectly, even though they’re physically very different. Heading in different directions for the summer, the four pledge to each wear the pants for a week and then mail them to the next girl. The pants see life, love, and loss in their journey. Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrera, Blake Lively, and Alexis Bledel give standout performances in one of the best teen movies ever.


10. DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA-YA SISTERHOOD (2002). Sidda (Sandra Bullock) is a successful playwright still wrestling with her manipulative mother, Vivi (Ellen Burstyn), after a traumatic upbringing. But longtime friends (Fionnula Flanagan, Shirley Knight, and Maggie Smith) are determined to heal that rift – through their secret club, "Ya-Ya Priestesses." "Now our blood flows through each other as is done for all eternity. Loyal forever, we raise our voices in the words of Mumbo Gumbo…Ya Ya!"


If you would read more about Jane and her work, visit her website ReelLifeWithJane, her blog at, or email her at [email protected].


Thanks, Jane!


Which are your personal favorites? Please post if you have other friendship flicks to add to the list!

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I liked the friendship between the two sisters, Diane Keaton and Frances McDormand, in the Nancy Meyers flick “Something’s Gotta Give.” I don’t know offhand of other Meyers movies, but would like to hear more about why you think she is so dreadful. I thought The Banger Sisters was embarrassingly bad. The female friendships you mention in Six Feet Under were great, I agree.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I would rather have root canal without anesthesia than watch most of these (with the exception of A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN). I’m surprised TERMS OF ENDEARMENT, one of the worst movies of all time, isn’t on this list. Isn’t there a way to make movies about women’s friendships without making them sappy? Even THE BANGER SISTERS, which stars two of the most powerful women in Hollywood, is ultimately sappy. THELMA AND LOUISE isn’t sappy, but of course the wages of their independence is death, so where does that leave them?

    This isn’t a movie per se, but one of my favorite treatments of women’s friendship is that of Ruth (Frances Conroy) and Bettina (Kathy Bates) on the late HBO series SIX FEET UNDER. In friendships there is often an element of one tightly-wound party and the other one playing the role of “little demon on the shoulder” that helps the tightly-wound person step out a bit and reach potential. These characters “breathe” in a way the characters in “chick flicks” are rarely allowed to. And Nancy Meyers should never be allowed to make a movie ever again.

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