Looking back at Some Kind Of Wonderful
Was Some Kind Of Wonderful just Pretty In Pink Part Deux? Carley continues her John Hughes retrospective...
By 1987, John Hughes was at the top of his game, having enjoyed back to back to back success with Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, all teen orientated films that have since become cult classics. However, there was one movie from his teen days that seems to go forgotten and that is Some Kind Of Wonderful.
Before I start this I would like to mention that I have never been a big fan of this film. I always found it too close to Pretty In Pink and as I had watched that first I always found it to be the superior film. However, in the case of fairness, I decided to re-visit Some Kind Of Wonderful and try and set aside my bias.
The plot very much sticks to that of Pretty In Pink; this time Keith (Eric Stoltz) is the guy from the wrong side of the tracks who falls for rich girl Amanda (Lea Thompson) while his tomboy best friend Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) is secretly in love with him.
In a nutshell, Keith has been pining for Amanda for some time and when she finally breaks up with her boyfriend Hard, she agrees to the ‘perfect date' with him, much to the protests of her friends. Watts hides her feelings to Keith and helps him plan the date, including chauffeuring them around for the evening. Keith attempts to impress Amanda by buying her diamond earrings and flowers from his college fund, which raises huge protests from his father who wants his son to do better in life than he has.
To make things more complicated, Hardy wants to ruin the night at all costs and arranges for Keith and Amanda to attend a party where he intends to make Keith pay. But he is saved by the ‘tough guys' he has befriended in detention.
By the end of the date Amanda realises she needs to spend some time by herself to figure out who she is, while Keith realises that, although Amanda may be the girl of his dreams, the girl he is in love with is Watts and he runs to her house to tell her just that, big kiss, roll credits.
So let me admit right off the bat I was wrong. In a previous review I did call this movie tepid and that was unfair. As it actually for me, on this repeat viewing, is a stronger movie than its predecessor Pretty In Pink.
Firstly, the characters are far more likeable and Masterson really steals the show as tomboy Watts. But you can also see why Keith had an attraction to Amanda, which is something you never really felt with Andie and Blane.
You also actually get a great villain of the piece, Hardy, who as Amanda's spurned boyfriend, decides to take everything out on Keith as he learns the hard lesson that having money can't get you everything you want. Although this lesson was imparted with James Spader's character Steff in Pretty In Pink, he wasn't as vile a character, more like the guy you love to hate than actually hate.
Secondly, the ending is far superior as the two characters you want to end up together do. And, in a way, I see it as a bit of a two finger salute to the suits behind Pretty In Pink as the original ending was meant to be Duckie and Andie dancing the night away together at the prom, but test audiences didn't like the non-traditional happy ending and before it was released it had been changed. Although the ending of Some Kind Of Wonderful is slightly against the grain isn't it just mildly more realistic and really didn't we want to see Watts win out in the end?
On a side note, the soundtrack is also far superior. If you ever have a chance to listen to it, please do.
The last of the Hughes teen movies, Some Kind Of Wonderful fits nicely into the genre that Hughes had carved out for himself; his next movie would be a bigger risk, a full blown comedy. We will be taking a trip there via Planes, Trains and Automobiles next time.