With films such as Legally Blonde, Mean Girls and Bridget Jones’s Diary, the 2000s could be considered a golden era for the chick flick. Mostly, these light-hearted movies give us the chance to switch off for an hour or so. But if you look closely, they’re jam-packed with hidden messages. In fact, it’s a bit like the subtle way The Plastics display their power dynamic, if you know what we mean – and if you don’t, read on and all will become clear…
40. The Notebook – Ryan Gosling’s carpentry efforts
In the tear-jerker of a movie The Notebook, Ryan Gosling plays the male protagonist Noah. The character’s great passions in life are, of course, his love interest Allie, played by Rachel McAdams, and carpentry. Taking a somewhat methodical approach to the role, Gosling decided to try his hand at woodwork and even made the table that acts as an ad hoc venue for lovemaking for Noah and Allie in the film.
39. Legally Blonde – Luke Wilson’s nod to his brother
As the title suggests, hair color is a big deal in Legally Blonde. So much so, that Luke Wilson’s character Emmett jokingly asks Elle, played by Reese Witherspoon, “How do you think I would look as a blond?” Apparently, this line was a nod to Wilson’s famous brother Owen, who certainly has a family resemblance, but sports golden tresses.
38. The Devil Wears Prada – Emily’s Paris wallpaper
When Emily – played by Emily Blunt – shows Anne Hathaway’s character, Andy, the ropes at the fictional Runway magazine in The Devil Wears Prada, she makes it all too clear that attending Paris Fashion Week is her thing. The honor is in fact so important to Emily, that the image saved on her computer’s home screen features the Arc de Triomphe.
37. The Princess Diaries – Camera-ready reporter
In The Princess Diaries, once word gets out that Mia (Anne Hathaway) is heir to the Genovian throne, the media descend on the geeky schoolgirl. But if you look at the gaggle of reporters that swarm the princess, you’ll notice that one of them is only presentable from the waist up, sporting shorts on his lower body. This is because reporters’ legs rarely feature on television, meaning they could technically be wearing anything down there.
36. Twilight – Stephenie Meyer’s cameo
Stephenie Meyer was inspired to write Twilight after a dream. And when her books were later realized as movies starring Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, the author got in on the action with a cameo in the first film. In the scene in question, Meyer is seated at her laptop in a diner. And in a nod to her true identity, a server announces, “Here’s your veggie plate, Stephenie,” before placing some food before her.
35. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Mr. Darcy
When she was writing her book Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding was inspired by Colin Firth’s portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the 1995 adaption of Pride and Prejudice for her character, Mark Darcy. Of course, Firth went on to play Jones’ love interest in the movie version, which was apparently a bit of an inside joke on set.
34. 13 Going on 30 – The blindfold
In 13 Going on 30 teenager Jenna makes a wish to be a grown-up, only to wake up as a fully-fledged adult, played by Jennifer Garner. And while Jenna’s new life is almost unrecognizable from her adolescence, there are some subtle hints to her past. Take, for instance, the sleep mask she wakes up in. It features the same design as a blindfold the young Jenna wears while making her wish.
33. Miss Congeniality – Kathy Morningside is crowned
Kathy Morningside turns out to be the dastardly villain in Miss Congeniality. But while we have to wait until the end of the film to learn her evil motives, there’s a clue that she’s up to no good earlier on in the movie. In one scene, Morningside appears to already be “crowned” thanks to the clever positioning of a poster in the background. It features the tiara she later wears and uses as part of her wicked scheme.
32. Juno – The hamburger phone
Indie flick Juno is full of all kinds of idiosyncratic details, including the title character’s iconic hamburger phone. It seems that this retro piece of technology was a tribute to the film’s writer Diablo Cody, who reportedly owned one as a teenager. What’s more, Juno isn’t the only person in the film to possess such a phone. Her love interest Bleeker has one too, which shows their bond.
31. Easy A – Foreign film title
The 2010 film Easy A is actually based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter. The movie tells the tale of high-schooler Olive, who tells a lie that soon gets out of hand. In a nod to the inspiration behind the plot, a foreign film theater in the film is showing a German version of The Scarlet Letter.
30. 27 Dresses – Director’s tribute
In one scene from 27 Dresses, Katherine Heigl’s character Jane can be seen attending the wedding reception for “Fletcher & Miller.” It would seem that the first name is a nod to the film’s director, Anne Fletcher. It’s not clear if the latter name could be a tribute to someone else.
29. A Cinderella Story – The license plate
In the 2004 film A Cinderella Story the wicked stepmother can be seen driving around in a car with a license plate bearing Sam’s name. The detail is a clue that points forward to the culmination of the film. Because, as part of Hilary Duff’s character’s happily ever after, she discovers that her late dad actually left everything to her, rather than his widow.
28. The Princess Diaries 2 – Stan Lee’s cameo
In what’s possibly the strangest cameo of all time, comic-book writer Stan Lee shows up in Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. Yes, that’s right: The man who helped to bring the likes of Spider-Man and X-Men to life with Marvel made an appearance in the 2004 chick flick. It’s not clear what Lee’s cameo meant, but could it be that Mia Thermopolous is actually some kind of superhero?
27. Ella Enchanted – Elf dating ad
When it came to creating the fairytale world of Ella Enchanted it appears that no detail was overlooked. As Ella’s dad looks for a job in a newspaper, he’s taken with an ad for an “Abacus Programmer.” But next to the position are elf dating profiles including one searching for an “easy-going” individual with a “green hue.” Actually, one of the ads misspells “passionate” – so maybe one detail got overlooked. But we’ll generously give them a pass this time…
26. The Devil Wears Prada – Miranda’s prison
At the end of The Devil Wears Prada Andy finally manages to escape the prison of being Miranda’s assistant. Later, she sees her old boss as she drives past in a limo. And while Miranda once told Andy “everybody wants to be us,” she looks forlorn as she peers out of her window with a bars-like pattern reflected across the glass.
25. Sky High – Warren Peace
Sky High is set in a specialist school attended by the spawn of the world’s greatest superheroes. But one character, Warren Peace, is the son of both a superhero and a supervillain, giving him something of an identity crisis. To reflect this, his name is a clever play on the words war and peace.
24. Legally Blonde – Elle Woods’ LSAT score
For most of Legally Blonde, Reese Witherspoon’s character Elle Woods is underestimated and often dismissed as a bimbo. Of course, we all know that Elle proves everyone wrong in the end, but her intelligence is hinted at in her LSAT results. With a score of 179, she dropped just one point, putting her practically at the top of her class.
23. Bring it On – Nods to Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The 2000 movie Bring It On is known for its iconic cheerleading chants. In one memorable scene, the Clovers cry, “Can we beat these Buffys down so I can go home.” The line was an homage to the film’s stars Eliza Dushku and Clare Kramer who have both appeared as villains in the iconic teen-blood-sucking TV seriesBuffy the Vampire Slayer.
22. Josie and the Pussycats – Subliminal messages
Josie and the Pussycats tells the tale of three wannabe pop songstresses who want to make it big with their band. And while on the face of it, they produce lighthearted pop music, their songs are actually full of hidden details. For example, the chorus of “Three Small Words” cleverly counts down from six to one.
21. Mean Girls – Letter necklaces
In Mean Girls, The Plastics use all kinds of codes to display their power within the group. One such detail is the fact that Regina wears a necklace with her initial on at the start of the film. Then, once Cady steals the queen bee crown, she also starts to sport a pendant, this time bearing the letter “C.”
20. A Knight’s Tale – Nike logo
Historical dramas are often riddled with anachronisms, but A Knight’s Tale seems to almost revel in such inaccuracies. Despite being set in medieval times and being loosely based on The Canterbury Tales, the film is awash with modern references, from super-familiar banging rock’n’roll tunes to armor embossed with a recognizable “swoosh” logo.
19. Charlie’s Angels – Drew Barrymore’s trip down memory lane
One of Drew Barrymore’s first roles was playing Gertie in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. By the time she came to star in Charlie’s Angels, the actress was all grown up. But filmmakers decided to honor her movie roots. In one scene, Barrymore’s character finds herself in a teenager’s bedroom, which was precisely the same set used on E.T. And, if you’re really eagled-eyed, you’ll see a poster for the Steven Spielberg film hanging on the wall.
18. Freaky Friday – Jamie Lee Curtis’ family ties
The opening scene of Freaky Friday shows a series of pictures featuring mothers and daughters, including one featuring actress Jamie Lee Curtis with her daughter Annie Guest. And that’s not the only tribute to Curtis’ real-life family in the film. That’s because there’s a character called Mr. Bates in the movie, in reference to Norman Bates from Psycho, the 1960 film in which her mother Janet Leigh memorably starred.
17. The Princess Diaries – Mia’s father
Following the death of Mia’s estranged father in The Princess Diaries she discovers that, through him, she is in fact the heir to the kingdom of Genovia. And in a touching twist, the character is portrayed by Anne Hathaway’s father, Gerald Hathaway, in the movie. In one scene, voiced by René Auberjonois, he is seen sitting by a river as he writes a touching letter to his daughter.
16. Crossroads – Young Lucy’s Britney connection
The 2002 film Crossroads is remembered for starring Britney Spears – who was one of the biggest pop stars on the planet at the time. But it seems that for the singer, the film was a family affair. The younger version of her character Lucy was played by her little sister Jamie Lynn Spears. Meanwhile, the photos Lucy keeps in her locket are of Britney when she was small.
15. Legally Blonde – Josie and the Pussycats tribute
In one scene in Legally Blonde fashion-conscious Elle remarks that, “Whoever said orange is the new pink is seriously disturbed.” The line is a nod to producer Marc Platt’s other film Josie and the Pussycats. Because in that movie, a teenage trend dictates that orange is indeed “the new pink.”
14. Mean Girls – Hoop earrings
Before Cady successfully infiltrates the Mean Girls, Gretchen warns her that wearing hoop earrings is “Regina’s thing.” At first, she respects this by not wearing them herself. But as Cady climbs the hierarchy of the group, she starts to sport hoops. Meanwhile, when Gretchen finds her new gang of mean girls at the end of the movie, she too dons the power accessories.
13. 13 Going on 30 – The umbrella
When Jenna first becomes an adult in 13 Going on 30 she believes that the man showering in her apartment is a trespasser. In a bid to ward him off, she picks up an umbrella and brandishes it in his face. Interestingly, when Jenna’s dad believes his house may have suffered a break-in, he makes the same choice of weapon.
12. A Cinderella Story – Pink and green evil stepsisters
Back in 2004 A Cinderella Story was an up-to-date take on the classic fairytale Cinderella. One of the most famous retellings of the story perhaps came in the form of the 1950 Disney feature film of the same name. In that version, the evil stepsisters are portrayed wearing pink and green. And in a nod to the classic cartoon, the characters in A Cinderella Story sport the same colors.
11. The Princess Diaries – Mia’s eyebrows
During the makeover scene in The Princess Diaries, stylist Paolo nicknames Mia’s eyebrows “Frida and Kahlo.” This is a reference to Frida Kahlo, who was famous for having a monobrow. Referencing two more people known for their thick eyebrows, Paolo tells Mia, “If Brooke Shields married Groucho Marx, their child would have your eyebrows.”
10. Mean Girls – The Lions
In Mean Girls Cady comes to North Shore High School after living in Africa for 12 years with her zoologist parents. At first, it seems that the environment couldn’t be any different from the one in which she grew up. But in a subtle nod to the character’s past, the school’s mascots are the Lions, in reference to Cady’s own comparisons between school and the grassy plains which blanket roughly half of the African continent.
9. Juno – Mark’s dress sense
Things take a complicated turn in Juno when Mark – the man Juno has chosen to adopt her baby – makes a pass at her. The two characters are seen bonding throughout the movie, as Mark develops feelings for the teen. As a sign of this, his dress sense gets more similar to Juno’s as the film goes on.
8. Crossroads – NSYNC tribute
At the time Crossroads came out, the film’s star Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake were the celebrity couple of the moment. And there’s a subtle hint to the romance in the film, when the girls can be heard singing the NSYNC classic “Bye Bye Bye.” Unfortunately though, the romance was not to last. Spears and Timberlake broke up shortly after the movie was released.
7. Along Came Polly – Friends plot similarities
Before starring in the 2004 film Along Came Polly, Jennifer Aniston had already made her name playing Rachel in Friends. In the sitcom, Rachel and Ross go on a break after Ross lists the pros and cons of his girlfriend. Amazingly, an identical fate befalls Polly in the movie.
6. Mean Girls – The chalkboard
In one scene from Mean Girls, a quote can be clearly read on a chalkboard in the background of a shot. It’s an extract from John Fletcher and William Shakespeare’s The Two Noble Kinsmen, which has a familiar storyline to that of the film. That’s because it tells the tale of a trio of determined female monarchs who seek vengeance on someone.
5. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Shazza’s real life inspiration
In her original book, Helen Fielding based the character of Shazza on her friend Sharon Maguire. Her name is even listed on the acknowledgments page of the 1996 novel. Moreover, in a huge twist of fate, it was Maguire who went on to direct the big-screen adaptation of her buddy’s book, which starred Sally Phillips as the character.
4. The Notebook – Allie and Noah’s clothes
In the opening scene of The Notebook the older Noah wears a dark shirt, while older Allie is dressed in a red skirt suit. The outfits are the same as those their younger selves wear when they meet at the carnival. Though we don’t catch on until later in the film, the parallel gives us a clue that it’s their love story that’s unfolding.
3. The Princess Diaries – Pretty Woman link
During a dinner scene in The Princess Diaries Mia breaks a glass only to be told by a waiter that “it happens all the time.” The same actor delivered the identical line in the 1990 movie Pretty Woman, when Julia Roberts’ character accidentally catapults a snail off her plate. Director Garry Marshall was behind both films, which also featured Larry Miller and Hector Elizondo.
2. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days – Michele and Jeannie
The 2003 movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is based on a comic book of the same name. That cartoon was written by Michele Alexander and Jeannie Long – names with which some fans of the film might be familiar. Protagonist Andie’s best friends in the film are called Michele and Jeannie, in tribute to the two authors.
1. P.S. I Love You – Gerry’s urn
In P.S. I Love You Hillary Swank’s character Holly dreams up a bespoke look for her late husband Gerry’s urn. At the funeral, the finished product is black with metal rivets. It may seem like an odd choice, but the eagle-eyed among us might pick up on the fact it looks just like his guitar case, which is on display in the couple’s apartment.