According to this New York Times article, Hollywood is trying to figure out how to get more guys to buy tickets for chick flicks. Buried in the third-to-last paragraph, however, is an acknowledgment that the studios need to figure out how to attract female moviegoers as well, as ticket sales to younger women have slumped in recent years. Aside from The Devil Wears Prada (pictured), there are few recent chick flicks that have attracted a mass audience.

I blame formulaic scriptwriting. There’s also been a lack of starpower, but folks will come if they like the story. (Case in point: The Notebook. Rachel McAdams wasn’t a household name before that movie. She should have been one afterwards, but Hollywood has been slow to cultivate young actresses to whom Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, and Meg Ryan can pass the torch.) Today’s chick flicks lack clever plotting or sparkling dialogue, and they all look the same — overlit tales of big-city career gals in well-appointed apartments with full shoe closets. I’m sorry to keep recommending Judd Apatow as an example, since his movies have their own problems with formula, but check out something like Knocked Up, which found a creative way to weave an entire movie out of a situation that’s fairly ordinary and typical for women, and one that addressed women’s concerns about parenthood and aging in a funny but not patronizing way. And the result was a romantic comedy that attracted both men and women, despite its lack of name stars. It can be done; just stretch outside the comfort zone.

addCredit(“Anne Hathaway: Barry Wetcher”)