Molly Ringwald as Andie Walsh in "Pretty in Pink"
John Hughes defined the teen movie in the 1980’s, and no more so than in one of my favorite John Hughes films “Pretty in Pink” (written by Hughes, produced by Lauren Shuler, and directed by Howard Deutch). Even today, the characters and the story works. It is pretty impressive that I still care if Andie chooses Duckie or Blane in the end.
“Pretty in Pink” has all the qualities that a good 80’s movie should. First and foremost, it stars 80’s It Girl Molly Ringwald. Ringwald is cast here as a fashion forward high school senior that makes up for lack of wealth with the smarts to get a scholarship to a preppy school. Andie (Ringwald) is so cute and fun and completely out of place that it is easy to identify with her. The role literally was written for Ringwald, but shockingly they were considering “prettier” actresses. Ridiculous! This part was not just meant for her, but she actually was the age of the character which helps the realism of the film. Molly Ringwald is Andie Walsh.
Andie’s mom left, a fact that Andie and her father, Jack Walsh (Harry Dean Stanton), deal with over the course of the film. He clearly was devastated by the abandonment and Andie has become a caretaker to her father. Andie and Jack’s relationship is a highlight of the movie. But the real story here is one of young love. It seems that a “richie” (a rich kid), Blane, is crushing on Andie just as much as she is on him.
Blane (Andrew McCarthy) making eyes at Andie
Blane is just the kind of kid a girl like Andie would like, passionate/awkward kissing and all. Apparently, they originally wanted a “hunk” instead. The men involved in the film wanted the classic jock type, but Ringwald threw her 2 cents in for Andrew McCarthy. She knew that McCarthy was more the type than Andie would fall for.
Blane is sweet and someone I can see Andie with, but I for one fell in love with Jon Cryer in this film and I would prefer Duckie any day (although I understand her crush on Blane). How could I not love The Duck Man?! Duckie is Andie’s bestfriend and not-at-all-secret admirer. As much as I love Andie and her budding romance with Blane, Duckie steals the show and I can’t help but to pull for him to get the girl. Throughout the film his unrequited love for Andie is hilarious and heartbreaking and you really want Duckie to get some lovin.’
Duckie (Jon Cryer) looking fantastic with Andie
Some of the most memorable lines from the film are lines Cryer came up with himself (“candy machine” and “Blane!? It’s not a name, it’s a major appliance!”). And don’t even get me started on his dancing to Otis Redding. Fantastic. Can’t forget that he made Iona’s “thighs go up in flames!”
Speaking of Iona, Annie Potts gives a wonderful performance as Andie’s quirky and hip boss that owns a New Wave record store in Chicago’s Chinatown. She fills the role of friend and mentor in the absence of Andie’s mother. She is like a big sister, worldly in the ways of men and “wishful makeuping.”
And what movie would complete without a villain. Steff is the perfect rich jerk to counter Blane’s sweetness and gentle-pushover attitude. James Spader plays a jerk so well it is hard to imagine hating anyone more. He is rude to Andie and is a horrible bestfriend to Blane. As much as the snotty rich girls are annoying, it is Steff that really works to screw things up. The fight scene is fantastic. I’ll say it again. He plays a jerk perfectly.
Steff (James Spader) harassing Andie (Molly Ringwald) for a "date"
I haven’t even mentioned yet the awesome music, a score composed by Michael Gore. It probably is part nostalgia, but the 1986 music is such a huge part of the film that I can’t write this without mentioning it. Of course the soundtrack features “Pretty in Pink” by the Psychedelic Furs. “Wouldn’t it Be Good” by Danny Hutton Hitters is almost as iconic for fans of the film when you listen to it. The prom song, “If You Leave” by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark brings a rush of emotions and seriously who can forget the high drama of Duckie on his bike with “Shellshock” by New Order playing? He isn’t going to ride by her house anymore.
Pretty in Pink: Everything's Duckie Edition
I would highly recommend the “Everything’s Duckie Edition” of the film. “Zoids and Richies” is a look back at the casting of the film with interviews. “Volcanic Ensembles” is about the work of costume designer Marilyn Vance. There is even a lengthy discussion about the original ending of the film. Even though it is a disappointing to only see grainy shots and you don’t actually see the original cut, it still was interesting to hear that in the original cut she ends up with the other guy and their reasons for changing it. That said, it is a wonderful film and as far as DVD extras go, this DVD is mostly entertaining and fun. Other extras included are the making of “Pretty in Pink,” a feature all about Molly, prom stories, favorite scenes, commentary by the director, a wrap-up, and a photo gallery.
Rest in peace, John Hughes. You made some pretty fantastic films.
*Note* Last week there was no posting because I was finishing my degree at UIUC. Congratulations to all my fellow graduates!