Looking to fill that besties void left by ‘Sitting in Bars with Cake?’ We’ve got you covered with similar films that blend quippy comedy with heart-wrenching narratives.
Sitting in Bars with Cake is an emotional rollercoaster that demands a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and a full Kleenex box. From comedic highs with karaoke sing-a-longs to the tune of Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” to heartwrenching lows following one character’s cancer diagnosis, the film is a tale of unending friendship in the face of unbridled adversity. It’s also a self-discovery tale that spotlights two polar personalities who push each other to be their best selves. Jane (Yara Shahidi) is calculative and introspective. A meticulous planner destined to own a calendar adorned with a highlighter and post-it note key. Corrine (Odessa A’zion) is spontaneous and adventurous. She is a wildflower with a penchant for finding fun anywhere she goes. She’s undaunted and confident.
When Corrine gets diagnosed with brain cancer, Jane becomes her caretaker, and jumping from bar to bar with Jane’s homemade cakes slowly gives way to sitting in hospitals. If you’re looking for tales of female companionship, stories about finding yourself, and/or heartfelt films that seamlessly blend comedy and humor, we’ve got you covered with some must-watch similar movies.
Beaches undoubtedly inspired Sitting in Bars with Cake, as they boast near-identical premises. The ‘80s classic chronicles a 30-year friendship between the free-spirited C.C. Bloom (Bette Midler) and the Betty-by-the-book Hillary Essex (Barbara Hershey). The two reunite as adults when C.C. is a singer and entertainer and Hillary is an activist. Though their friendship faces some roadblocks and gut-punching arguments that fling accusations of jealousy and narcissism, their love is unquestionable. And, when Hillary gets diagnosed with Cancer, C.C. rises to the occasion.
Their devotion is unending. Though relentlessly schmaltzy — and far from subtle in its tearjerking mission — it succeeds due to compelling performances from Midler and Hershey. You’ll laugh at Midler as she performs “Otto Titsling,” singing about the invention of the brassiere, and then you’ll cry as the “Wind Beneath My Wings” sweeps in to shatter your soul.
Sitting in Bars with Cake even stars Midler in a supporting role, which serves as a touching homage to (at least one of) the contemporary film’s inspirations.
‘Miss You Already’ 2015 | Tubi
Milly (Toni Collette) undergoes treatment for breast cancer while her best friend Jess (Drew Barrymore) tries to get pregnant. Miss You Already is yet another film about enduring female friendships and the unbreakable bonds that sustain the lowest of lows and flourish in the highest of highs.
The film maintains a joyful atmosphere despite the very heartwrenching narrative turns. With a solid script and steadfast performances from Collete and Barrymore, Miss You Already is a tear-jerking tale with some manipulative melodramatic tactics that elicit a few sneers and eye-rolls yet ultimately win you over.
‘Steel Magnolias’ 1989 | Netflix
The 1989 film Steel Magnolias — boasting an all-star ensemble, including Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Julia Roberts, Dolly Parton, Olympia Dukakis, and Daryl Hannah — explores the bond between a group of Southern women navigating life’s turmoils in a small Louisiana town. Throughout the film, the women encounter tragedy and misfortune. But, they are present to support one another — whether via a quippy remark to induce a smile in the face of heartache or a shoulder to cry on when you just can’t bear to go on.
Spotlighting themes of resiliency and strength, vulnerability and doubt, endless friendship, life and death, family dynamics, and Southern culture, the movie juxtaposes moments of profound sadness with witty one-liners to weave a tale that is relatable and honest.
‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ 2012 | Prime Video
Based on Stephen Chbosky’s novel of the same name, The Perks of Being a Wallflower follows freshman loner Charlie (Logan Lerman) who is pulled out of his shell with help from the free-spirited Sam (Emma Watson) and her wacky fearless misfit of a stepbrother Patrick (Ezra Miller).
If you’re looking for the coming-of-age / finding yourself themes prevalent in Sitting in Bars with Cake, this is a solid choice. If you connect with Jane — whose friends help her come into her own — Charlie will help fill that relatability void. Polar personalities come together to create magic in this warm and rich interpretation of the adolescent experience.
‘The Bucket List’ 2007 | Prime Video
We’ve swapped out women for men here, but we couldn’t have a post about enduring friendships in the face of impending death and not include this Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson-led dramedy. It’s definitely soapy. It’s going for the heartstrings with reckless abandon, but these two legends of the screen work off each other scrumptiously.
Billionaire Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) and car mechanic Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) have nothing in common, but they wind up in a hospital room with overlapping missions: a desire to see and do all the things they’ve yearned to witness and partake in before it’s too late. The banter between Freeman and Nicholson is effortless and hysterical. They’ll hop into racecars, they’ll jump out of the sky, and they’ll be side-by-side when the going gets tough. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll eat it up like chocolate cake.
‘You’re Not You’ 2014 | Prime Video
Based on the critically acclaimed novel of the same name by Michelle Wildgen, You’re Not You stars Hilary Swank as a former classical pianist who gets diagnosed with ALS and Emmy Rossum as her unlikely, totally unequipped caretaker who reinstills some hope among the bottomless despair. Swank’s raw performance lifts the sometimes saccharine script, and the chemistry between her and Rossum carries the film.
Though portraying the disease with honesty, it sometimes fails to appropriately grapple with its intensity and destabilizing impact. That being said, it’s a heartfelt movie with an emotional core that highlights what it means to be vulnerable and dependent — which compensates for some gaps in the storytelling.
‘Me Earl and the Dying Girl’ | Hulu
Quirky high-schooler Greg (Thomas Mann) spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl (RJ Cyler)…that is until his outlook on life is forever altered when he befriends classmate Rachel, who has just been diagnosed with cancer.
Featuring witty and often awkward interactions between the primary characters, the movie dances between chuckle-inducing moments and more tender heartfelt ones. It’s a poignant story that doesn’t shy away from the complexities of friendship, self-discovery, and illness, but rather tackles such matters with charming self-consciousness. Unlike a couple of films on this list, this one actually knows when to go for subtlety and nuance. It never veers into melodrama or mawky cheap tricks; it remains a bold, humorous, and empathetic take on friendship and illness.