Sexism, feminism, and patriarchy are not new thematic fodder for film. From “Carrie” to last year’s underrated “Excision”, filmmakers have a long track record of wrestling with the idea of feminine self worth, body image, and a woman’s place in this male-centric world. Girls Against Boys, the latest from writer/director Austin Chick, joins that well attended pseudo-feminist cinematic potluck but, unfortunately forgot to bring their own dish.
Like many of its peers (“Excision”, “May”, “Carrie”, etc.) Girls Against Boys is an examination of feminism and expected female sex roles through the lens of a male filmmaker. While this fact upon itself is not inherently wrong, many a fine feminist themed films have come from men, it does add the extra question of the filmmakers intention. This is especially true in Girls Against Boys, when the intent of scantily clad women traipsing through the film straddles that questionable line between simple testosterone induced gawking and an intentional artistic statement. Luckily, the film never falls obviously into the gawking territory, ala Zack Snyder’s “Sucker Punch”, but it does manage to stay uncomfortably hazy about the real intention of so many low angle short skirt shots.
One can’t help but wonder, then, if this sexualized ambiguity is present simply because of the knowledge that a man is at the helm of the project. That fact alone may raise a more interesting question towards expected socio-sexual roles than the film itself ever manages to muster. Instead, moments of Girls Against Boys seem like fetishized moments of revenge set to the basest of feminist theory.
In that sense, Girls Against Boys is exactly what it asserts itself to be. In all cases the story embraces the conceit of girls against boys, no matter the context or logic behind it. Chick’s major thematic conceit seems to be an examination of the relationships between women and men and the societal and sexual power struggles that seems to inevitably follow. The trouble, though, is that Chick is so intent on that theme he oversimplifies and forces square normal people, into round bad guy holes. Sometimes completely denying the characters and the narrative that he has established, Chick seems hell-bound to vilify everyone. His underlying theme becomes as simple as “some boys are bad, some girls are bad: let’s call the whole thing off”.
That simplification leads to an interesting concept slipping into “Falling Down” with skirts territory. The revenge and the motives that led to it become laughable. The characters never rise above general, convenient caricatures. Always performing the deed the script needs, wether it makes sense or not.
With all that said, though, Girls Against Boys does manage to be a skillfully executed, if somewhat empty, exercise in B-level exploitation. Despite all the thematic missteps and lost opportunities, Girls Against Boys is still a generally fun experience in the vacuous arena of shock-value, female based revenge flicks. Given the themes introduced and the questions asked, only to be distracted by his own fetish before he can answer them, Chick stumbles in the delivery of something substantial, but luckily he takes a knee well within the land of entertaining schlock.