“Chick lit” can be a loaded term — just ask Jennifer Egan. But it also provides an easy (if admittedly dated) shorthand for a category of fiction written for a female audience about the female experience. Today, when a film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s novel The Help arrives in theaters, it joins a long line of best-selling books that Hollywood producers have snatched up, hoping to capture that allegedly elusive lady demographic. Judging by its current 83% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it is also poised to join a much shorter list of chick lit film adaptations that were a hit with critics. Click through as we revisit some previous examples, starting with the best (The Bridges of Madison County) and ending with the worst (The First Wives Club), and let us know in the comments if you agree with the critics’ rankings.
Based on: The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller
Critics’ response: 90% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes
“In a medley of bold and subtle gestures, [Meryl] Streep tells Francesca’s plaintive story,” Richard Corliss wrote in his review for TIME. “Through the actress’s effort and her director’s generosity, this book about an irresistible man becomes a movie about a remarkable woman. Madison County is [Clint] Eastwood’s gift to women: to Francesca, to all the girls he’s loved before-and to Streep, who alchemizes literary mawkishness into intelligent movie passion.