Pretty In Pink
*** GM
Starring: Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer, Andrew McCarthy, James Spader, Harry Dean Stanton, Annie Potts, Andrew Dice Clay


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I am apparently in the unforunate minority of kids in the 1980s that never saw the John Hughes Teen Angst Trilogy (Sixteen Candles, Pretty In Pink, The Breakfast Club) until after I left high school. I saw the 'edited for TV' version of "The Breakfast Club" in college and I think it might have helped out a bit had I seen it when I was still in that hardcore social strata enclave mindset of myself versus the "cool kids." I've yet to see "Sixteen Candles," but now I've got two of the three under my belt, and they're probably not having quite the impact they could have had if I'd gotten around to them in a timely manner.

So we've got Molly Ringwald as the angst queen Andie, a girl with her own "style" that's unpopular with the trendy rich kids (using the word 'kids' loosely, due how old these characters look), but she's got a loving if lackadaisical father (Stanton), a confidant at her job at the mall record store (Potts) and a wacky-go-lucky friend named Duckie (Cryer) that's completely in love with her only "somehow she doesn't know it." Then Creepy Rich Kid Blaine (McCarthy) starts hovering around her and starts to fall for her, but is he strong enough to overcome the scorn of his hoity-toity friends who deride his attempts to score with 'trash' like Andie?

That's the whole plot, really. Pure, distilled angst, with the loveable Dice Clay as the bouncer that doesn't let Duckie into the club. Couple of problems - has anyone ever considered Andrew McCarthy to be "SOOO beautiful?" I mean, I'm as big a fan of "Mannequin" as the next kid that wanted some magic doll to come to life and fall in love with him so he wouldn't have to deal with figuring out how to date people, but dreamy, he ain't. But I suppose this was his heyday, so we can forgive that.

We spend most of the film thinking Andie should hook up with the adorable freak Duckie, even if he is just a rough sketch of Lloyd Dobler with the jitter-meter cranked up to eleven, but also hoping that Duckie gets to nail Annie Potts first. Neither happens. The one-date magic love between Andie and Blaine is hardly convincing, but it sends Duckie into a depressed lonely tailspin anyway. Annie Potts going from zany Lauper-type to a nice Designing Women look hammers the point home that we need to look past surface images, but it inconveniently keeps Duckie actionless. Yes, he gets to exchange a hot-cha glance with Kristy Swanson at the end, but really, is it too much for him to get a little play from the anticlimactically un-stunning-prom-dress-wearing Ringwald, or should we just be glad he's grown out of his unhealthy obsession with this chick who keeps leading him on and is obviously attracted to tools with bad attempts at meaningful stares? Then again, I suppose if I was an outcast in a high school with rich thirty-year-olds like James Spader ruling the roost, I'd be fantasizing about somehow falling for any random popular chick that makes eye contact, personality aside, so maybe it's not so hard to get the Ringwald perspective. Maybe. That's podunk adolescence for you. No one in my high school ever wore hats like that, either.

Ah, well. The movie was cute. The oddest effect it's had, though, is that my subsequent listenings to "If You Leave" by Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark (conveniently abbreviated to OMD) dredge up some weird angsty feelings within me, despite my relative distance from the film. I can't stop listening to it. Perhaps it's just the new angsty context. Maybe I'll try listening to the Psychadelic Furs some more, too, and see what happens there.

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