I grew up in the early 2000s when humour in movies was terrible, and women were sexualised from an early age. I was a kid the first time my dad took my sister and me to a video rental shop in town. It was the beginning of the DVD, and I became obsessed with the idea of being able to choose what to watch.
Until then, if you studied and memorised the tv guide, as I did, you’d be able to catch a movie as it was just beginning. But there’d be ads, control remote fights, or my parents had made plans I wasn’t aware of, and they made me leave the house without WATCHING THE ENDING. Life as a millennial kid was very hard.
So when I entered that video shop, I discovered my new passion: American teen movies, a new concept for a Spanish girl like me. There were Hilary Duff, the Olsen twins, Lindsay Lohan… and of course, the best, the incomparable, Charlie’s Angels.
Going to the video shop was the best day ever. So many choices! Full of women doing incredible things, living an exciting life so different from mine. I could spend hours going through all my favourite movies, but we don’t have time for that. I’ve made a list of my top six. These are the films I rewatched nonstop when I was younger and that I still love today.
Charlie’s Angels (2000)
I think I was twelve the first time I discovered Charlie’s Angels. It’s hard to explain how much this movie meant to me. I had never seen women in an action movie being the heroes and not just the romantic interest or damsel in distress. They were doing cool things, like fighting bad guys and driving race cars, and they wore so many different costumes.
I hate that the actresses were so sexualised, something I didn’t notice when I was younger. The film was presented through the male gaze, as most movies were back then, but I still love it.
A Cinderella Story (2004)
The first Hilary Duff movie I ever saw, after that, she became my favourite person and one of my first searches on Google to find out her filmography (which, to my delight, was very long, and I made my dad rent every single one).
While this was a remake of Cinderella, my favourite Disney princess when I was younger, this story had more than just a prince who saves a random girl and turns her into a princess. This was a cool girl, living her life and falling in love with the popular guy in school, but she refused to change anything about herself to fit in. She stays true to herself.
Mean Girls (2004)
I was ten when this movie came out, so still not a teen, and I had never been to high school, but Mean Girls taught me about cliques and how to get revenge on a mean girl, not that I would ever do that. This movie is so iconic and fun. I still watch it whenever I need a pick-me-up.
I didn’t know who Tina Fey was back then, but I’ve followed her career since I realised that she wrote the film. I love her comedy and the characters she creates. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are the perfect combination for a comedy.
Legally Blonde (2001)
In the 2000s, the typical romcoms usually divided women into pretty and mean, pretty and silly, or intelligent and undatable. That was it. Legally Blonde changed that. It showed you could be a girly girl and still be smart and be a serious lawyer.
I don’t have words to describe how disappointed I was when I saw Legally Blonde 2. I don’t think I even finished it, what were they thinking?
The Princess Diaries (2001)
I wanted, no, I needed, to be Mia Thermopolis. I always loved Meg Cabot’s books, though they were hard to find in early 2000s Spain. But The Princess Diaries were my favourite, and the film didn’t disappoint.
I also looked a lot like Mia’s before pictures during my tween and early teen years, which is sad. I wore glasses and braces, my hair was wavy and uncontrollable, and my eyebrows were too big for my face. I don’t look like the after picture now, I still wear glasses and I’m back to wearing braces, but at least I discovered how to deal with my hair and bushy eyebrows.
Coyote Ugly (2000)
I know this doesn’t seem like a child-friendly film, but it was one of my favourites. A small-town girl moves to a big city to become a songwriter and ends up working at the coolest, most anxiety-inducing bar. The coyotes dance free on top of the bar and wear fabulous outfits. They are independent and live their life however they want. It has great dance scenes and the music is amazing.
The are so many other movies that made my childhood more bearable, like Bridget Jones, Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You… I miss that type of easy-going late 90s/2000 movie.
Sometimes I wish I was a bit older and had lived more years before the internet became what it is now. I get very nostalgic of how more real it felt to have to wait a week or two to rent a movie you’ve just learned about through a magazine or a friend’s recommendation and finally convince your dad to rent it and then make popcorn and watch it with my sister the second we got home. It was such a rare experience that made life more real.
I love being able to log into a streaming platform and watch a film that just came out, but I miss the physical part of it, when watching a movie was more than just clicking a button.