How to Make an American Quilt (1995) from Tuna
As explained in more depth in my essay on date movies, there is an identifiable cut-off point at which a film stops being a date movie and becomes an estrogen film, and that point can be determined by subtracting the male rating from the female rating at IMDb. If the result is less than .9 - it still could be a date movie. French Kiss and Moonstruck are at .8 - women like them better than men, but not so much better that the difference will provoke arguments. Those two films will shrink a man's penis by several inches, but will not actually cause it to fall off. A score of .9 or more leads us into heavy estrogen territory, however, and can be considered the equivalent to chemical castration. Fried Green Tomatoes, Kate & Leopold, and The Way We Were all check in at .9.
American Quilt is also at .9 - an entry-level estrogen film.
Within the category of estrogen films, the two major sub-categories are teeny-bopper films (Legally Blonde, Dirty Dancing), and granny films (Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Beaches). Both are more popular with women, but in the teeny-bopper category, the film attains its highest scores from people under 18. In the granny category, the film scores highest with people over 45.
Here's a look at it:
|In addition to the objective criteria
defined above, there are some more subjective ways to separate a granny
flick from a teeny-bopper flick.
How many laughs are there, for example?
|I don't know the reasons, but the older
the audience and the more female the audience, the less humor
is employed. Older people rarely go to the funniest films available.
This is not a uniquely female gender characteristic. Men are the same
way. Guys who loved "Animal House" when they were young don't retain
that same sense of cutting-edge humor as they age. They still remember
how funny Animal House and Blazing Saddles were, but they can't see the
equivalent hilarity in Road Trip or Not Another Teen Movie. The problem is
multiplied for women, however because women often consider humor to be a
negative factor in evaluating a movie. If you look at the most romantic
movies, you'll see that the funniest ones (Annie Hall, Manhattan,
Casablanca) are always scored higher by men than women.
So what about American Quilt?
American Quilt has nothing even remotely resembling humor, except for the usual stock granny remarks, variations on the old wives' tales and urban legends that appear in every granny film. (What I like to call "men getting lost because they won't ask for directions" humor). I don't think you can call this "humor' so much as "shared female folklore" - sort of a gender bonding thing, similar to men's unyielding belief that women don't drive as well, despite their lower insurance rates.
Compare that humorless approach to Legally Blonde, which is obviously a pink film, but which also made me laugh a few times with a range of humor far beyond the "female folklore" level. To me, subjectively, American Quilt seems like a humorless granny film. It also stars Ellen Burstyn, who is the granny of grannies. She is to Granny flicks what Eastwood is to Spaghetti Westerns. It also stars a whole bunch of additional real grannies, which adds to the silver luster.
There is another way to look at the demographics. Consider the table below:
American Quilt seems like a pure granny film, while Ya-Ya Sisterhood seems to appeal to the grandmothers and granddaughters alike.
The strangest thing about American Quilt is the odd distribution of the male votes:
See where this is going? Young men like American Quilt much more than they like Ya-Ya. But older men like Ya-Ya much better. To look at it another way, women like American Quilt more as they get older. Men like it less as they get older - to the point where, even though it is an obvious chick-flick, it is rated the same by boys under 18 as it is by women 30-44.
Perhaps young boys like Joanna Going's sexy nude scene in the PG-13 rated American Quilt? I don't know, but it isn't that often that you can see some hot naked flesh in a film your mom wants you to watch.
|Anyway - is this film any good? I don't know. You're asking the wrong person. I found it completely unwatchable. The female characters are romanticized, and the male characters are cardboard props. To give you the idea, the film is about a women (Winona Ryder) who is about to be married, but her future groom is barely listed in the cast. She visits a bunch of grannies who are quilting her wedding quilt. They spin some homespun wisdom based on flashbacks to their own romantic pasts, and Winona learns to follow her heart, or someone else's heart, or something. I forget now, but I'm sure it was some profound shit.|
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