How to Reinvent Yourself Via the Magic of the Movies

July 8, 2011

by Maggie Kruger

Ever had one of those mornings when you’ve woken up,  looked in the mirror and wished you were somewhere else?  That you were someone else? That you had someone else’s life,  one that didn’t involve long commutes to the office,  lengthy arguments about whose turn it is to do the washing up,  and in which you were richer,  thinner and with better hair?  (Personally,  I covet the updo Julia Roberts is sporting in Closer  –  unfortunately my short brunette locks will never attain that level of fabulousness).

But I digress.

Through the magic of the movies it is possible to reinvent yourself  –  here’s how…

The Devil may wear prada, but that's only because her Kathy Lee Gifford designer clothes would give her away.

The Devil may wear prada, but that's only because her Kathy Lee Gifford designer clothes would give her away.

Scenario 1:  I Hate My Job

We’ve all had those days,  when your boss shouts at you for no reason,  every single person on the phone is blaming you personally for whatever’s bugging them,  and you’re convinced you’re never going to get that payrise/promotion.  What to do in that situation?  Take a leaf out of Tess McGill’s book,  that’s what!

Working Girl is the film that gave all of us hope (yes,  even the boys) that even if your boss is beyond evil,  you too can make it to the top:  put upon secretary Tess McGill (a pre-surgery Melanie Griffith) finds out boss from hell Katherine (a beyond brilliant Sigourney Weaver) is stealing her ideas. One skiing accident,  a foxy haircut and a fling with Harrison Ford later,  she’s at the top of the pile. Inspiring and funny,  and over 20 years later it still stands out as a classic comedy.

See also:  The Devil Wears Prada (no word of a lie,  I used to work for a woman who was as evil,  if not more so,  than Miranda Priestley. She used to say I’d made her tea wrong and send me to make her another cup on average of once a week.  However,  now I have a lovely office in Central London and she has to make her own tea. Ha. );  9-5;  Swimming With Sharks.

Scenario 2: There Once Was An Ugly Duckling…

If there’s one thing Hollywood loves,  it’s the ugly duckling story.  Take one homely hero or heroine,  add one suitably soundtracked montage,  and what’s the result?  A beautiful swan and smiles all round,  that’s what!  Of course,  it usually helps that the person being transformed hadn’t exactly been beaten with the ugly stick in the first place,  but let’s just lay that thought to one side for the moment.

It’s a total guilty pleasure,  but Miss Congeniality is one of my favourite Ugly Duckling stories  –  sloppy FBI agent Sandra Bullock is forced to go undercover at a Miss United States Pageant and discovers that even being beautiful and being smart are not mutually exclusive concepts. Just glorious.
See also:  Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club;  Tara Morice in Strictly Ballroom;  Patrick Dempsey in Can’t Buy Me Love (thanks to @meemalee for that one);  Brendan Fraser in Blast from the Past:  I love this film,  it’s totally feelgood and boy,  Brendan Fraser’s got some moves!

Vera (Annie Ross) would like to say, "Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto!"

Vera (Annie Ross) would like to say, "Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto!"

Scenario 3: I Hate My Species.

Being human can be so,  well,  pedestrian sometimes,  can’t it? So what are the options available? Given the right financial resources you too could recreate The Fly,  but getting an insect to go into the machine at the right time does take stonking amounts of fly-training,  and the end result doesn’t tend to win you many friends (especially not when puking on them after too much beer on a night out means they’re likely to lose a limb or 3).

See also:  Teenwolf;  Vera in Superman III (when she gets turned into the robot…  that bit still scares me you know.)

Scenario 4: FML

Tootsie (Dustin Hoffman) wants you to know: that is most definitely NOT a banana in her pocket... and yes, she is in fact happy to see you!

Tootsie (Dustin Hoffman) wants you to know: that is most definitely NOT a banana in her pocket... and yes, she is in fact happy to see you!

So,  your life is resembling the Friends theme tune. You can’t get a job and your ex-wife won’t let you see your kids.  What to do?? DRESS UP AS A WOMAN,   that’s what. Tootsie is just about one of the funniest films made by anyone ever:  struggling actor Dustin Hoffman can’t get a job,  so dresses up as a woman to become the newest star of a popular daytime soap. Hilarity ensues.

See also:  Some Like It Hot (‘Nobody’s perfect!’ );  Mrs Doubtfire;  Transamerica (ish… great movie though,  well worth a watch, Felicity Huffman is brilliant in it).

Scenario 5: If I Were a Rich Man…

Admit it  –  we all think our life would be better if we had more money. But would it really? In the sublime Mr Deeds Goes to Town,  Gary Cooper inherits a fortune,  but finds only ridicule and unhappiness await him in the big bad city. This was remade a few years back as Mr Deeds with Adam Sandler and Winona Ryder,  but it’s not a patch on the original.

See also:  Trading Places;  The Jerk;  Brewster’s Millions

Of course,  we all know that the grass is always greener… I’m sure if I ever got Julia Roberts’ hair I’d soon be hankering after someone else’s barnet… Jennifer Garner’s rocking a pretty fierce look these days,  after all.

Maggie Kruger fell asleep on her dad’s lap on her first cinema trip to watch Return of the Jedi in 1983,  and has loved the movies ever since,  even going so far as to study them at college,  where she worked on a number of short films. She lives and works in London,  UK,  and will tell you that her favourite film is Dr Strangelove,  although when pressed will also admit a certain weakness for 1980’s brat pack movies and most of Adam Sandler’s early work. Follow her on Twitter: @emmizzykay .

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