We look at the ''Thelma & Louise,'' ''The First Wives Club,'' and ''Practical Magic''

By Troy Patterson
Updated April 30, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

Practical Magic

  • Movie

In 11 years of staring at Julia Roberts’ mouth, we’ve watched her develop from a young woman singing along to ”Respect” in Mystic Pizza to a fashion photographer singing along to ”Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” in Stepmom, which comes to video on April 27, 1999. In each case, the actress initiates female-bonding by proving that she’s cool and fancy-free — the common denominator of an ever-proliferating stock scene I will term ”the chick-flick song-fest.” Rigorous analysis of selected examples unveils even deeper meanings:

Homicidal Road-Trip Soul Sisters — Fleeing from Johnny Law in Thelma & Louise, Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis bob their heads to ”The Way You Do the Things You Do.” While on the lam after offing Drew Barrymore’s abusive boyfriend in Boys on the Side, Barrymore, Whoopi Goldberg, and Mary-Louise Parker jauntily croon ”Shame, Shame, Shame.” These spectacles of sisterhood are directed against the sexism of the word manhunt.

The Divorcee Dance-athon — How does a ’90s gal celebrate a blackmail scheme? The lady extortionists of The First Wives Club belt out ”You Don’t Own Me.” Meanwhile, the women of Waiting to Exhale cap a night of champagne, birthday cake, and hostile crank phone calls with a brief line dance to TLC’s ”Creep.” Surely there’s a connection between divas and divorcees.

Sandra Bullock and the Healing Power of Song — In Practical Magic, Nicole Kidman & Co. lift the spirits of fellow Wiccan Bullock by kicking off a tequila binge with a round of Harry Nilsson’s ”Coconut.” The star returns the favor in Hope Floats: When a bully pummels her daughter, Bullock reaches for the boom box instead of the first-aid kit, lip-synching the Temptations’ ”I Can’t Get Next to You.” While the latter example seems, on the surface, to be a case of child neglect, it in fact represents a loving, values-based funkiness.

Episode Recaps

Practical Magic

  • Movie
  • PG-13