Anything Boys Can Do Girls Can Do Better, But Hollywood Doesn’t Make It Seem That Way

By  · Published on April 28th, 2014

MGM Home Entertainment

When I saw that The Other Woman made more money over the weekend then Captain America: The Winter Soldier, my first thought was that now Hollywood’s going to want to make the guys’ version, because presumably that’ll do even better at the box office. As it turns out, there is a 2008 movie called The Other Man, and like The Other Woman it involves a friendship between a character’s spouse and lover, but other than that the two movies are quite different, in plot, characters, genre and success – both critically and financially. While The Other Woman received mostly negative reviews, The Other Man was even more panned, and while the former opened to almost $25M, the latter grossed only $150K in total in the U.S.

So, Hollywood is very likely thinking of how to do “The Other Dude,” which will be a crude comedy that winds up dealing more in misogyny and slut shaming. The cast will consist of Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Adam Levine and Jennifer Aniston as the four-timing wife, and it’ll unfortunately be huge. Movies that are basically remakes of other movies but as “the male version” are called “spear counterparts,” according to the website TV Tropes (it has to do with the gender symbols, not a phallic connotation). Understandably, there aren’t a lot of movies that fit this category, however. You’ve got The Covenant (aka the male take on The Craft), the Jerry Lewis comedy Cinderfella and the 1996 TV movie The Stepford Husbands, and nothing else comes to mind.

On the other hand, there are plenty of “distaff counterpart” movies, including Teen Witch, a female version of Teen Wolf that just so happens to be celebrating its 25th anniversary today. Although the former has a very devout cult fanbase, it’s hardly a better movie than the latter, from which it was sort of initially developed as a spin-off. At least it’s better than Teen Wolf Too (what isn’t?), but at the box office Teen Witch seemed to be cursed. And lower earnings tends to be the case with most female counterparts, even Bridesmaids, which is one of the few to actually also be considered a greater movie than the male version. That is if we still accept it as the women’s answer to The Hangover, in spite of their not having the same plot at all and the fact that either the worse Bachelorette or even worse Best Night Ever now makes more sense as the counterpart.

If the tradition persists, we can expect The ExpendaBelles to perform worse than any of the male Expendables movies. And going by its need to imply that women are only better for a certain mission because they can pretend to be prostitutes, the quality of this spin-off might also be less than that of any of the Stallone-led version, as impossible as that may sound. The same could be the case for a TV series such as How I Met Your Dad, which in title at least is the distaff counterpart to How I Met Your Mother. And if there’s ever a She-Hulk, Spider-Woman, Batgirl or Alejandra Blaze-focused Ghost Rider movie, they’ll probably also follow in the footsteps of Supergirl, which took in even less than Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and was arguably even cheesier.

Here are some more obvious and accepted distaff counterparts to male-driven movies, all of which were less successful in both critical and financial terms:

The Next Karate Kid (version of The Karate Kid)

Double Jeopardy (version of The Fugitive)

Reservoir Cats (version of Reservoir Dogs)

Now and Then (version of Stand By Me)

Grease 2 (version of Grease)

Accidental Meeting (version of Strangers on a Train)

Girl, Interrupted (version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)

Technically, Jean-Luc Godard’s Made in USA would fit this lis if accepted as the distaff version of The Big Sleep, but it’s not nearly the lowered bar that those above are. The only movie that I can really think of where the female version is better, however, is only a halfway qualifier: His Girl Friday. And still its predecessor, Lewis Milestone’s 1931 film of The Front Page, isn’t anything to shake a stick at (I do dislike Billy Wilder’s 1974 take, though). Now someone just has to make a brilliant adaptation where both Walter and Hildy are women.

Regarding box office, there’s just something sadly societal still about male-driven movies being more popular and we’ve got some time before that’s not the case. As for the quality, there’s absolutely no reason for all these female-driven movies to be so terrible. Generally anytime Hollywood is out to make an “x version of y” or capitalize on the success of any kind of movie for any reason, the copy will pale in comparison. Yet not all of the above titles were pitched, developed or intended to be female versions of hit movies. Regardless, you can mean to make Teen Witch the girls’ Teen Wolf and make it really great. Same with Supergirl, especially if you’re following something as panned as Superman III. Same should be for a female Hangover being better than The Hangover Part III — but even Best Night Ever couldn’t be that.

So, here’s my latest challenge for Hollywood: top that, as in actually improve upon a male-driven movie with a female equivalent. It can be done. No, really, it can be. In honor of the Teen Witch anniversary, I’d like to share some inspiration:

Not that it should take a magic spell for Hollywood to get it right. Also, I guess the real challenge here is to stop that, because women shouldn’t really even care about trying to top that.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.