Monday, September 29, 2008

Pretty in Pink (Howard Deutch, 1986)

I've seen Pretty in Pink many times over the years, but never right from the beginning. Sure, all I ever missed was the shot a street cleaner making its morning rounds. But nonetheless, I finally feel complete as a human being. Let's here it for the Duckman! Seriously, Jon Cryer's deranged enthusiasm as Duckie (the king of unrequited teen movie love) is what makes Pretty in Pink more tolerable than it should be. From his John Lennon shades to his funky blazers, I'm all over his mid-80s brand of lunacy like a sweaty pair of brown legwarmers. His adoration for Molly Ringwald's Andie is misguided, yet true. And I must admit, every time she rebuffed one of his pathetic advances, I felt a little twinge in my heart. Truth be told, it was his appreciation for pointy footwear that really made my spirit soar. Because it's no secret that most of the world's problems could be solved if we just embraced the healing power of a reasonably-priced pair of pointy shoes every now and then. No fooling. I mean, think about it, and I mean, really think. Just in case you're wondering, I like my pointy shoes with one buckle (preferably in the shape of a skull). Match that up with a black cowboy shirt with an embroidered red rose on each shoulder, and I'm virtually unstoppable. Anyway, maybe it's the Fresca talking here, but I'd totally make out with Duckie, or in lieu of that, at least go record shopping with him. I can totally just picture myself standing next to him in the new wave section, basking in his quirkiness as he flipped through the G's.

My second fave has to be Annie Potts' Iona, a passionate fashion victim, who owns the independent record store where the main characters like to congregate. Sexy, in her mid-thirties, and obviously more relatable than I'd like to admit, Annie saturates the screen with her excessive mode of offbeat hotness. Whether it be her spiky punk look, the film noir getup, the fifties beehive thing, or the cheongsam, Iona encompasses the apotheosis of womanhood. I loved it when she mentions her thighs bursting into flames while describing the perfect kiss Duckie gave her at the club.

New wave and synth-pop legends New Order have not one, but three songs in Pretty in Pink, and all of them are used during key moments in the film, and all three do a great job of moving the complex plot forward. The boombox-friendly "Shellshock" is used when Jon Cryer is pining for Andie. Since that describes pretty much every scene he's in, I'll add by saying that it's the scene where Duckie is seen aimlessly riding his bike around like a lovesick maniac. The haunting "Elegia" is heard when a smarmier-than-usual James Spader is seen walking towards the school (oh, and, by the way, he looks like a yuppie fanatic in this, and I'll bet his blood at the time was around 80% wine cooler).

And finally, the super-catchy "Thieves Like Us" is played over the film's showstopper: the dressmaking sequence. Which plays out like sewing pornography. In that, each stitch elicits moans of pleasure from the textile fetishists sprinkled throughout the audience.

The continuity error involving Harry Dean Stanton's ever-changing hairstyle in one scene was unsettling, to say the least (I lost count how many times it changed). And I still have trouble excepting Andrew McCarthy (Mannequin) as the male lead. His wavy hair makes me want to retch, and the way those awful looking white blazers hung off his lanky frame really put a damper on my eighties blazer buzz. Oh, and the manner in which he paws at Molly Ringwald's at face when he kisses her for the first time was a real turnoff. I thought for a minute there he was gonna poke her eye out with his thumb.

The film's ending is a slight abomination. I've seen it play out six or seven times now, and it never fails to piss me off. It's just plain wrong. Test audiences apparently didn't care for the original ending, so producers re-shot a new one. Well, I'm afraid that the test audience's shortsighted reaction almost ruined the movie. Though, I am glad that John Hughes and Howard Deutsch were able to re-team a year later for Some Kind of Wonderful, a vastly superior film that gets the ending right.



  1. Probably my favorite John Hughes film. (RIP John Hughes)

  2. My sister once hung out with Annie Potts. Annie cooked for her, among other things, corn on the cob still in the stalk. That detail always stuck out for me for some reason cause I thought it was weird at the time I guess, but now it sounds pretty hip delish.

  3. I beg to differ, the audience was right for a change (without knowing it obviously - I can imagine how silly they were to choose this ending), this is the saddest and the bleakest John Hughes film - in the end.