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Hit or Skip: Blake Lively Movies

You might know Blake Lively from her time on Gossip Girl, her incredible roasts of her husband Ryan Reynolds on Twitter, or just from being an ultimate baddie. Since her time on Gossip Girl (and even before), she’s cultivated a long film career defined by major wins—and also major flops. This week I sat down and rewatched three episodes of Gossip Girl and seven other Blake Lively films to decide which were a hit and which you should skip altogether. 

Hit: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is one of those movies that you think would age terribly, but watching it years after my first binge, it was just as good—and just as emotional. I’m a sucker for any teen friendship/romance flick, and seeing the bond between Bridget, Lena, Carmen and Tibby is still moving. Watching them grapple with their changing dynamic, relationships and struggles with their families was really relatable. While the pants were hideous, the sisterhood element really stood out. Especially now that I’m off-campus and away from my friends, the movie just reminded me how special friendship is and how you need to really cherish it. 

Skip: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 

They say the sequel is never better than the original, and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 shows exactly why. I had never seen this movie, but I loved the first so much that I assumed I’d find the same type of attachment for the sequel. Unfortunately, I could not. The iconic foursome was back to travel some more and face bigger obstacles, but this movie lacked the emotional depth of its predecessor. The stakes just feel lower, because they are. We’ve seen the Sisterhood fall apart and come back together, the second time is just more predictable. While it’s a feelgood film, I would stick to just the original. 

Hit: The Shallows 

I really thought that The Shallows would be terrible due to the weak premise, but I was surprisingly impressed by the complexity of this shark flick. The Shallows utilizes effects better than most superhero movies and really creates a three-dimensional character of Lively’s Nancy. She travels to a beautiful beach in Mexico to clear her mind and surf in order to figure out whether medicine is the proper career choice for her. However, she doesn’t realize that it’s surrounded by a swarm of sharks. This story delves deeper than the traditional shark film, and really creates a feeling of anxiety the longer Nancy stays in the water. If you want to watch a thrilling action movie, I would suggest trying The Shallows.

Skip: A Simple Favor 

This over-the-top comedic mystery actually intrigued me when looking at the synopsis. The idea of a straight-edge mommy blogger attempting to find her missing friend is a lot different from the roles Lively and Anna Kendrick often played. However Kendrick’s character desires to be bad, it never comes to fruition. This movie meanders for too long, and was too confusing for it to be enjoyable. They tried so hard to make Kendrick’s character likable that the movie lost a lot of its plot and all of the darker undertones it tried to set up. A Simple Favor is a waste of time, even for the biggest Blake Lively fan.

Skip: Green Lantern 

If we are discussing the worst movie Blake Lively is in, Green Lantern takes the cake. The DC Comics movie puts Lively’s now-husband Reynolds in a suit that resembles lettuce more than a superhero. Reynolds is funny, this has been established, but his portrayal of the Green Lantern is anything but. While Lively shines more than Reynolds, her acting often falls flat and the poor writing is unable to make up for it. Her character is never built up well enough to become likable and she is relegated to the secondary character role as a result. If you’re looking for a mindless flick that you can make fun of, Green Lantern is the correct choice. However, if you’re looking for a superhero movie that actually makes you want to root for the hero, then this is not the movie for you.

Hit: Elvis and Anabelle

This is a really cute film that I wasn’t aware existed before catching up on Blake Lively’s films, but I was pleasantly surprised with what I found in Elvis and Anabelle. If anyone is looking for a low-commitment indie romantic drama, this is the movie for you. Lively’s Anabelle dies due to an eating disorder on the stage of a beauty pageant, but is revived on the table of Elvis’ mortuary. While the obvious trope is to bring these two together, throughout the film viewers watch these two grow apart due to issues in their own lives. I really enjoyed how Elvis and Anabelle distorted the traditional tropes of a romantic drama and skews the expected.

Skip: Age of Adaline 

I remember being 14 and so excited to watch Age of Adaline, but like most things that excited me at 14, it was a disappointment—this hasn’t changed. Age of Adaline follows the titular character, who remains 29-years-old after a freak car accident. The scientific explanation given at the end of the film made it feel even more absurd; it had no place in the movie. Lively looks gorgeous in this movie and the period clothes and scenery are stunning as well, but the plot lulls. Adaline has no personality besides being extremely rich, pretty, and forever young, and in the end, all you want is Adaline to just age to 107 and drop dead.

Hit: Gossip Girl

If you’re looking for a bigger commitment, or want the most bingeable show known to humankind, you’ll find it in Gossip Girl. While parts of the show have aged terribly and it relies on a lot of toxic tropes, Gossip Girl is still hours of fun plotlines, quips, and beautiful clothing. The show follows a group of wealthy teenagers as they manage relationships with their parents, friends and themselves. The six seasons are the perfect quarantine binge, and Lively shines as Serena Vanderwoodsen. This was truly her breakout role, and it’s obvious why as she embodies Serena fully as she navigates life as a young adult in New York. Gossip Girl is your typical teen drama, but it brings to life so many interesting characters that keep you coming back for more.

Elizabeth Karpen

Columbia Barnard '22

Lizzie Karpen is a junior at Barnard College, the most fuego of women’s colleges, studying Political Science and English with a concentration in Film. To argue with her very unpopular opinions, send her a message at [email protected] or @lizziekarpen on Instagram and Twitter.
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