Sunday, September 30, 2018

Pretty in Pink (1986)

Andie is a schoolgirl who lives in the poorer side of town, but is happy with her life. A frugal sort, she's often experimenting with new second hand clothes, and helping her unmotivated father find a job. Blane is a rich kid, but unsatisfied by how vapid and insulting some of his friends can be. Seeing something special in Andie, he falls for her, but friends on both sides object to the two's pairing, feeling that either Blane is an unsincere rich brat only interested in a quick lay, and that Andie is 'beneath' someone like Blane, respectively. Despite these criticisms, the two try to make their relationship work...

Coming from noted writer and director John Hughes, Pretty in Pink is one of his best works, I feel. It's a thoroughly enjoyable teen movie focusing on the everpresent issues of class. Can two people from different walks of life make it in a relationship?

While the pacing is good with the story, it isn't with the characters, as Blane barely appears during the first half, with all the screentime being hogged by Duckie, an excruciatingly unlikeable character. He's a real pain to watch, and the movie is so unbalanced! Thankfully after a certain point, Blane starts appearing more regularly, but then Duckie is the one to mostly vanish, which still feels like a problem despite my dislike for the character.

Pretty in Pink has a few things to say, including interesting examinations on masculinity, both positive, negative, and in-between. On the positive side is Blane, a rich kid who's not a stuck-up brat, but rather is sweet and caring, and also the first to ask Andie out rather than the other way around. Then on the other end we've got Steff, a toxic asshole who does try asking 'nerdy' and 'poor' girls out himself, albeit in a rude and condescending manner, then accuses them of low standards and bitchiness when he's rejected. Blane lays out his internal reasons for his actions at the end and it's great to watch the guy squirm! One has to wonder what becomes of Steff after the credits roll. Does he stay an asshole forever, or does he learn the error of his ways with his friend's guidance? Duckie, meanwhile, has issues with entitlement, as well as just being a prat to women, then wondering why he has no luck with the ladies, eventually learning that just because he 'love's Andie, it doesn't mean she has to love him back. Finally, there's Andie's father, who's got his own issues to deal with, and is more often than not in an unmotivated slump, being taken care of by his daughter rather than the other way round, with the two having a positive relationship based on mutual respect and admiration, even if his borderline laziness does upset it at times. Man, with all this focus on the male psyche, it's a surprise that the female characters don't get nearly as much psychological attention! I guess it makes sense, since John Hughes would be more familiar with the internal behaviour of men. And it's not like toxic femininity is exactly a common thing in America.

Pretty in Pink may be a great movie, but it is not short of awkwardness. Most of it comes courtesy of Duckie, but some of it from other places. The party scene where Blane takes Andie to meet some of his friends is cringey to watch, although it at least is meant to be. And finally, it's hard watching what Andie does to her two pink dresses! Yikes, those poor outfits! Those are new threads from your dad and a gift from Iona (her old prom dress), kid, don't tear them up and cannibalise them!

Andie is the best character, as she's very well-written, and played excellently by Molly Ringwald, who's the best actor in the movie. As for Blane, he may have a snooty rich name, but he's very likeable. Andrew McCarthy is great here. The moment when Blane calls Duckie an asshole, I was once again reminded why he's one of my favourite living actors!

In actuality, he's my favourite not only because I like him, but because of how versatile he is. Three examples-Weekend at Bernie's, Mannequin, and Pretty in Pink. All three films have performances from him that are so different! Weekend at Bernie's was the first thing I ever saw McCarthy in (at least, the first I saw knowing who he is), and I figured the guy's niche was playing goofy and snarky comic-relief types, but then I saw Mannequin, where his character is a total 180 as a romantic dreamer.

Onto Duckie. I don't like Jon Cryer. Nothing against the man himself, I just can't stand him as a performer. He's annoying! Really annoying! And Duckie is a freakin' scumbag for most of the movie. He's only likeable in the last eight minutes, and when he fights Steff. I wish more care has gone into making his character less of a pain.

The rest of the acting is all good. James Spader's performance as rich asshole Steff isn't anything special, but he's still James Spader, so he's definitely watchable. Annie Potts as Andie's older friend Iona is awesome! She needed more screentime! Thankfully she does get enough, and her and Andy's friendship is nicely written and believable.

The soundtrack here is pretty good. While I don't think it's anywhere near being one of the best ever made, as others have said, it still really compliments the movie well. My favourite tracks were the title song (the verses and general composition moreso than the singing), and If you Leave by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, which is a great pairing with the finale.

Pretty in Pink is an 80s classic that still holds up today just as well as it did back in the day. Not dated at all and still relevant to the modern day, it's not a movie that'll fade from memory anytime soon...

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