Pretty in Pink (1986)


“It only matters what’s on the inside that counts”, is total bullshit. It’s all about the Benjamin’s, baby!

Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) is one of those teenagers that doesn’t seem to fit in because she isn’t rich, she isn’t in with “the crowd”, and just goes about her day all by her lonesome. She has one friend named Duckie (Jon Cryer), but he wants more than she can give him. What Andie is more concerned with is finding her love and also, a date to the prom. Rich, prepped-up tool Blane (Andrew McCarthy), may just be the solution to that. However, he’s rich and fits in with “the crowd”, whereas she doesn’t. Adolescent problems ensue.

No matter what you may have to say about the 80’s, whether it’d be positive or negative, there is no denying that John Hughes makes that decade, what it is known as today: angst-ridden, cool, well-dressed, and very, very hip, in it’s own 80’s way. Watching any of his films and just listening to the dialogue, is what made the guy so damn special in the first-place and listening to them still, all of these years later, makes you wonder; what would he have done to this generation, had he been around? Questions, questions, questions! But what we do know is that the guy was great at writing movies, and this one shows no different.

I’m not going to lie, this definitely isn’t my favorite John Hughes movie, but it still has everything I love from them all: nice dialogue. Everything in this movie may be dated, cheesy, and outrageous, but Hughes’ dialogue still keeps it grounded in some form of reality where we feel like we know exactly what these kids are talking about and going through. Sure, the times have changed what with cellphones, Twitter, Facebook, and the Harlem Shake and all, but every teen still feels the same emotions that these ones were back in the day, and it’s great to see that personified in a way that’s not mean or nice, it’s just realistic.

You can usually tell who the weirdo's are by the glasses they were...
You can usually tell who the outcasts are by the glasses they were…

Maybe I’m giving a bit too much credit to this movie, but for the longest-time, everything that Hughes was throwing at me, I was falling right for. Not all of it works and you can totally tell that some lines probably sounded better in Hughes’ head then they may have come out in the actual movie itself, but it’s always compelling and rather entertaining to watch a bunch of teenagers just talk about the things that matter: money, love, boys, girls, clothes, and prom. Most movies that deal with social-classes and how high-school can be so darn destructive about them, sort of blow-pass the real meaning of what they are all about in that setting, but not this movie. Hughes shows how vindictive people can be, especially ones from high-school and how it doesn’t matter if you have a good heart, love animals, and enjoy picking up trash in public parks on the weekends, if you’re still apart of the geek squad, you’re most likely going to get yo ass kicked by some preppies or jocks. Either way, you’re not like and that’s the honesty I was talking about with this movie. It shows you that Hughes knows what he wants to present and knows exactly what he wants to say. Doesn’t always hit, but when it does, you feel it in more ways than one.

That’s also why it’s so disappointing to see the turn that this movie takes, out of nowhere, into total and complete unbelievableland. Everything before the last 15 minutes was, as you can probably tell by the first-half of this review, very good and kept me entertained, as well surprised by the depth that Hughes was able to enter without seeming too serious. Then, he loses all control and allows this movie to just seem utterly obvious and stupid. Without giving anything away to the peeps out there who haven’t seen this 80’s prized-treasure, a bunch of people that dick eachother over throughout the vast majority of the flick, start to all of a sudden forgive one another and even worse: start using that “L word”. No, not the show, but you know what I mean.

In most movies, that “L word” feels realistic and well-used, but in this movie, not a single-bit. It just seems like Hughes had this script all written-out, the ending and everything, and then Hollywood or whoever decided to put their filthy, stinking noses into it and ruin what could have been a way smarter, way more likeable, way more believable flick. Instead, they ended it with the typical, high-school fluff that most of these flicks go for and it’s as disappointing as it is stupid. Whoever’s to blame for this, I curse you! Okay, time to mellow out now.

A lot of people get on Molly Ringwald’s case as an actress because she showed-up in all of Hughes’ premiere, high-school flicks but you gotta give some credit to the girl; she’s actually very good. She’s played the stuck-up prude, she’s played the loner, and now she’s played the poor, outcast and all sides of her have shown very well. Her performance here as Andie is great because you really feel for with everything she’s going through, not just as a teenager, but as a person that wants love and wants acceptance, but just can’t find it. I like how sassy Ringwald could be, but also how understandable she could be of the things around her and the type of environment she was surrounded-by. She seems a lot smarter than most people would give her credit for, and for that, I have to give her major kudos because it’s not very often you see a smart, teenaged-girl in a movie about high-school and falling in love. That John Hughes. He always knew how to write ’em.

See what I mean?
See what I mean?

Another person in this cast that kicks ass is Jon Cryer as her bestie, Duckie. Cryer is the type of dude we all is hilarious by now, but back in those days, he was just getting started and he was a true breath of fresh air to watch as Duckie. Duckie’s cool, swift, suave, and charismatic, but also a nice guy that wants nothing but the best for Andie, and it’s a shame that she won’t give him that time, of that very specific-day. We feel for this guy, more and more as the flick goes on, and at the end of the day: we want him to walk-away with the girl, even if he doesn’t stand a chance in doing so.

Even though these two are great, the one who really sticks out like a sore thumb is Andrew McCarthy as Blane. McCarthy is so dull, so uninspired, and so boring, that it honestly is a wonder why any person in their right frame-of-mind would fall for such a sap like him. But then I remember; he has money! Oh yeah, that’s right! Basically, he’s one of those guys that just so happens to be Mr. Charming and the knight in shining armor, despite him not being able to bring anything to the table at all. He’s just a doofus and to watch him try to win over the heart of Andie, was as stupid as it could get. I would have liked it more if James Spader took this role over instead, even if Spader is pretty damn fun to watch as the high-school jerk-bag, Steff, who gets what he wants, when he wants it, and just schmoozes his way all throughout high-school, with a trusty-cigarette always located in his hand. He’s what cool is all about. Not this loser Blane.

Consensus: Although it may harbor some interesting and smart ideas about growing-up and finding love as a teenager, Pretty in Pink still loses itself by the end when everything gets overly-sappy and overly-annoying. However, it’s still an entertaining flick to watch that has aged-well in most parts. Not all, but most.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Now that's the real preppie!
Now that’s a real preppie!
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17 comments

  1. LOL! You dug one out of the vault here. I haven’t seen this in YEARS but I do remember it having one of the most obvious 80’s theme song! Great review.

  2. Hughes was definitely the zeitgeist director for the 80s. Nobody captured that decade like he did. Pretty much everything he directed is a cultural classic. I think he even defined the teen genre in general.

    He was a great writer too. Even beyond the movies he directed, he wrote some great ones. He’s responsible for one of my favorite franchises of all time: the Vacation series.

  3. Not one of my favorite Hughes films either. It has some great things to say about adolescence like most Hughes movies and it’s raw and honest, really capturing the things that teens think about even though times and technology have changed. You’re right though, it doesn’t stick to its guns and it gets really stupid at the end. Cryer and Ringwald are both great, Cryer especially. I think it’s hard to watch this film without wanting Duckie to get the girl. He’s truly the better man. You hit the nail on the head with McCarthy being uninspiring here. I prefer James Spader’s character. He may be a complete dickhead but at least he really commits to it.

  4. I like it, but it’s not my favourite Hughes film either. That said I think it’s the best soundtrack to any of his films! Enjoyed the review.

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