“That fucking guy. Made this flick Sixteen Candles, right? Not bad, it’s got tits in it, but no bush. Of course, Ebert over here don’t give a shit about that stuff cause he’s all in love with this John Hughes guy and rents every one of his movies. Fucking Breakfast Club, all these stupid kids actually show up to detention, fucking Weird Science where this one chick wants to take off her gear and get down, but aw, no, she don’t cause it’s a PG movie, and then there’s Pretty In Pink which I can’t watch with this tubby muthafucker any more, because every time we get to the part where the redhead hooks up with her dream guy, he starts sobbin’ like a little eight-year-old with a skinned knee and shit. And nothing is worse than watching a fat man weep.”
Even if we don’t always like to admit it, everybody does like to watch a good romantic movie every now and again and if I’m ever in the mood for a couple of hours of fluff (which is the technical term) I always put on Pretty In Pink.
After surviving a disastrous 16th birthday and a day of detention in his previous films, Hughes favourite, Molly Ringwald, takes on matters of the heart. She plays Andie, an 80s new wave outsider who attends high school with people who are either well off (aka ‘richies’) or from the wrong side of the tracks. She is also handy with a sewing machine.
We find out very quickly that life has not been that easy for Andie, her mother has abandoned the family, leaving her father in a rut he can’t snap out of and with him not working they are just about getting by. To make ends meet she works at the local record store, TRAX, run by the wacky Iona (the always wonderful Annie Potts) and a smile is kept on her face by her best friend Duckie (Jon Cryer) who also happens to be secretly in love with her.
However, no romance is complete without a leading man, who in this case comes in the shape of Blane (Andrew McCarthy), a richie who doesn’t see what the issue is with dating somebody who doesn’t fall into the same tax bracket as you.
After a spot of flirting at TRAX and one clever computer trick later (could you perform such a trick in 1986? I don’t think my computer could do that now!), Blane finally plucks up the courage to walk out of the safety of the halls of the high school. He goes and out into the school grounds, where everybody else hangs out, to ask Andie on date.
Friday night soon arrives and after waiting patiently Andie thinks Blane has stood her up. Duckie arrives to the sound of Otis Redding and Try A Little Tenderness (my personal favourite part of the movie). Soon after, to Duckie’s horror, Blane arrives for their date and is heartbroken as they leave together.
They start the night at a party thrown by Blane’s friends Steff (James Spader on fine form) and Benny (seriously, did anybody call their kids these names in the 80s?!) who treat Andie terribly. They then move on to the local club Andie hangs out in, where Duckie is drowning his sorrows with Iona.
The night having been a wash-out, Blane asks Andie if she wants him to take her home – cue tearful scene with Andie being ashamed to show Blane where she lives. The night, however, ends better, with a kiss and a date to the prom.
Excited and happy, Andie begins planning her choice of dress when Blane becomes distant, avoiding her in the halls and not returning her calls. Andie finally confronts him to make him admit he is embarrassed to be seen with her by his friends. He counters back with the fact he already asked somebody else to the prom and forgot. In-between this happening, Andie finds out her father has been lying to her about going to work – cue a further tearful scene where Andie tells her father that her mother didn’t only walk out on him but on her too.
Angry and upset, Andie decides to go to the prom herself and whips up a dress, and when she arrives Duckie is waiting for her, ready to take the richies on. Blane spots her from the other side of the room, comes over and apologises. As he leaves, Duckie makes Andie go after him and they end up kissing in the misty parking lot. *cue hankies*
This film is the first that demonstrates a softer side of Hughes which hadn’t really been seen before. There had been romance in Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club, but that wasn’t really what was pushing the story. Here though, it does slightly fall flat.
In reality, Blane isn’t that much of a likeable character and you wish she had fallen into the arms of Duckie instead, which actually was the ending Hughes wrote. Paramount, however, disagreed with the choice and went with the storybook happy ending. Hughes would not get his way until Some Kind Of Wonderful (which is more or less Pretty In Pink but with Eric Stoltz as Andie.) I also find the big emotional scenes a bit forced and I think the movie would have done better without them.
Saying that, however, I would recommend this to anybody with a couple of hours to spare. It isn’t Hughes’ finest work, but it does have a rocking soundtrack, a star turn from Jon Cryer and more 80s fashion than you can shake a stick at, and sometimes that is just want you need!