Friday, January 06, 2006

Breaking News: Men and Women Have Different Tastes in Movies

I'm a big fan of the Internet Movie Database, and tonight as I was surfing the web, I decided to investigate the film preferences of men and women, as reflected on IMDB's database. In case you're not familiar with IMDB, it is the most comprehensive film site on the web, providing detailed information about movies, actors, directors, producers, etc. for countless films going back more than 100 years.

One of the things that IMDB does is ask members to rank movies that they've seen on a 1 to 10 scale. IMDB uses these votes to generate lists of the top movies of all time, the top movies for each decade and--what I was interested in--the top movies by gender.

If you look at the men's top 50 films list and the women's top 50 films list, the first thing you'll notice is that there's quite a bit of overlap. In fact, 29 films on each list are identical, although the rankings differ in ways that are sometimes interesting. For example, The Godfather tops the men's list, but doesn't crack the top ten among women (#11). That discrepancy surprised me a little, but not anywhere near as much as the fact that Monty Python and the Holy Grail ranked higher among women (#26) than among men (#46). Women also aren't necessarily put off by violence and gore--films like Fight Club and The Silence of the Lambs make both lists.

So, what films do men like that don't make the cut with women? Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson and Sergio Leone apparently don't do it for the ladies. While men rank The Good, The Bad and The Ugly #8 and Once Upon a Time in the West #24, these movies are absent from the women's list. Women also aren't crazy about Orson Welles. Men rank Citizen Kane #20 and The Third Man #50, but women shut Welles out entirely. Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas (#22) and Taxi Driver (#36) placed in the guys' top 50, as did Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove (#14), A Clockwork Orange (#43) and Paths of Glory (#40). Martin and Stanley get to join Clint and Orson at the sausage fest, because women don't like their movies either.

What movies made the women's list but not the men's? Women may not like Clint Eastwood, but they're crazy about Johnny Depp--Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl ranks #14, and Finding Neverland comes in at #27. Women also appear to enjoy animated features, with Finding Nemo (#8), Shrek (#47) and Beauty and the Beast (#50) all in their top 50. In fact, movies aimed at younger audiences in general are disproportionately popular among female viewers. For example, the women's top 50 list includes The Princess Bride (#17), The Wizard of Oz (#28), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (#43), and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (#45).

While I don't know for sure why these children's movies rank so high with women, I can hazard a guess. Being the lousy parent that I am, I know that most of the time when our kids go to a movie, it's my wife who takes them. My guess is that my crappy parenting skills are a common problem among my brethren, and so this is a fairly typical pattern among moviegoers. If I'm right, then mothers probably tend to overrate these movies. Why? Because to adults who've endured the likes of The Rugrats Movie or the dreaded Pokémon: The First Movie, stumbling across a kids' movie with even an ounce of wit is like finding an oasis after being lost in a desert without a canteen: Even if the water's fetid, you'll remember it as the sweetest you've ever tasted.

Okay, which films that guys like have no business being in anyone's top 50? I would nuke the spaghetti westerns (sorry Vinny), Lawrence of Arabia, all of the Kubrick films except Dr. Strangelove, 12 Angry Men, Requiem for a Dream, Goodfellas and maybe Apocalypse Now. There's some bizarre Japanese anime movie that crept in there at #44, which I'll dump on principle, even though I've never seen it.

As for you, ladies, I've got a question: Do you really think Finding Freaking Nemo is the 8th best film every made? Sorry, but all the cartoons and kiddie movies have got to go, with the exception of The Wizard of Oz. You can have Johnny Depp, but not Pirates of the Caribbean.

Which films on the women's list did men overlook? I'd say Gone with the Wind, Singing in the Rain (I hate musicals, but this is one that's on every critic's list of the top 50-100 movies), Some Like it Hot and maybe The Wizard of Oz. Which films on the men's list did the women miss out on? Well, my votes go to Pulp Fiction, Citizen Kane, The Seven Samurai, Chinatown, Sunset Boulevard and Taxi Driver?

Now there are some films that make it to both lists that, well, suck. From my perspective, these include all of the space operas and fantasy films like Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, not to mention the interminable Lord of the Rings movies. Also, please, people -- I liked The Shawshank Redemption too, but we should all be able to agree that it's nothing more than a good TV movie of the week, not one of the two or three best films of all time.

Anyway, there you have it. I don't know if there are any profound conclusions to draw from this little exercise, other than I'm pretty pathetic if the best thing I can find to do on a Friday night is to waste a couple of hours screwing around on this blog. On the other hand, you've just spent the time to read this post, so your life must not exactly be a thrill ride either, huh?

1 comment:

Hornless Rhino said...

Thanks to Vinny for pointing out an error in an earlier version of this post--I got my spaghetti westerns confused, and had Clint Eastwood in Once Upon a Time in the West.