Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)
While femininity is used as a joke [why this is a problem], here it is a rare case not of punching down at women and making fun of them but a matter of a man shown to be capable of understanding the particular pressures of adolescence for a girl. In another movie, this might have been an opportunity not only to make fun of girliness but also to make fun of him for his “unmanly” sensitivity, but the joke here is in the surprise that he acknowledges the impossibility of drilling normal teenaged angst out of kids (as the kiddie secret-agent school he works for is supposed to have done). It’s only a subtle change of tone and emphasis, but it makes a world of difference.
IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)
IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)
BOTTOM LINE: A teenaged girl gets to be smart and strong, lost and confused, heroic and vulnerable as she chases what she wants out of life. Hooray.
NOTE: This is not a “review” of Barely Lethal! It is simply an examination of how well or how poorly it represents women. (A movie that represents women well can still be a terrible film; a movie that represents women poorly can still be a great film.) Read my review of Barely Lethal.