Saturday, April 1, 2017

Chris' #90: Pretty in Pink (Howard Deutch, 1986)

Starring: Molly Ringwald, Harry Dean Stanton, Jon Cryer, Annie Potts, James Spader, Andrew McCarthy
Director: Howard Deutch
Writer: John Hughes
Release Date: February 28, 1986

Quick synopsis: A poor girl must choose between the affections of her doting childhood sweetheart and a rich but sensitive playboy.

First Time
About a year ago on some streaming service. This is one of two movies on my list that I saw for the first time within the past couple years. I was on an 80s kick and wanted to catch up on the movies from that decade that I had missed.

Why it's on the List
Mainly because of the cast and characters. The running time is an hour and thirty six minutes, but even in that short amount of time, the world that these characters inhabit feels familiar and lived-in.

I pulled that quick synopsis from IMDB and am posting it even though I take issue with it. It's not as if Andie (Ringwald) must choose between Duckie (Cryer) and Blane (McCarthy); in reality, there's not much of a choice at all. Andie and Blane are attracted to each other, despite their class differences, while Duckie is forced to deal with his friend zone angst.

Xander Harris, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is a similar character to Duckie. I have little patience for both. I haven't seen every episode of the show, but I have to imagine that Xander eventually overcomes his feelings for Buffy. It's nice to see Duckie's growth over the course of PiP; by the end of the film, I actually admire him. Up until that point, he's pretty unbearable, but Jon Cryer does give a great performance throughout.

Andie is a strong female character. Not only does Ringwald bring a unique attitude to the role, but she's written in a very real and positive way. Andie doesn't have all of the answers and often turns to Iona (Potts) for advice, but she's true to herself and isn't afraid to call the men in her life out on their shit. She's very direct with Blane, Duckie, her father, and James Spader, especially when they don't make life particularly easy for her.

Speaking of Spader, he was 26 or so when this was filmed, and he definitely looks it. If a dude like this:

is hanging in or outside of a high school, please call the cops immediately. I take great amusement from Spader's character in this, and I love the moment when Andrew McCarthy finally tells him off. 

The first time that I saw McCarthy in this, I had the thought that he was only "80s handsome." As I saw more of him, I changed my mind; the dude's handsome and charming enough for any decade. Blane is a yuppie who recognizes how repulsive other yuppies can be. I like that the film doesn't shy away from that reality. 

It annoys me a little bit that Harry Dean Stanton's character is portrayed as a lazy, unemployed dad. The movie delves into why that is, but I suppose it still doesn't work for me nor does it ultimately undo the damage done by that stereotype. Just a thought - it clearly doesn't ruin the movie for me. Stanton also comes off as very sweet and loving. And to round out the notable cast members, I love Annie Potts in this. Iona is unique, wise, and feels a bit like a linchpin.

Another big part of this film is the soundtrack, but I have to admit that it doesn't do a lot for me. It works within the movie, but other than Otis Redding and The Smiths, it's not something I would really listen to. No offense to any of the other artists, but for me, the 80s had better songs to offer.

Additional Notes/Stats

  • This is the only John Hughes movie on my list. I kinda want to rewatch Ferris Bueller's Day Off and The Breakfast Club, since they aren't too fresh in my mind. I also saw Sixteen Candles for the first time when I watched Pretty in Pink, and there's some crazy shit with racism and rape in it.
  • My mom was one month pregnant with me when this was released. There are at least two more 1986 films on my list. I still need to see The Color of Money. I didn't know that The Great Mouse Detective was released in '86; I enjoyed watching that as a kid.


  1. Solid pick. I was worried that you'd put up some clearly ludicrous pick like D2: The Mighty Ducks as an April Fool's Day joke. You probably thought better of it, realizing that we'd all see right through such a ridiculous joke pick. No one would have D2 on their list! That'd be like including Aladdin on a list! Hahahhahah!!!!! Lololol.

  2. By the way, not only was D2 the first film Abigail ever saw in the theater, Aladdin was one of the first films they had at home on VHS. We just watched it here at my parent's house and she couldn't hide the fact that she knew all the words. They were bursting out of her like an alien out of John Hurts chest.

    She does say that she was forced to go to D2 against her will and that she didn't like it. I don't believe her.

    1. I believe her because no one would hide his/her love for D2. We're the type to get visible Ducks tattoos for all the world to see.

      I considered posting an April Fools joke for a split second, but as Aladdin taught us, you've got to be your true self.

  3. So, yeah, PiP holds up really well. For all of the reasons that you mention above. I'll only add that the moment of Ducky looking straight at the camera for a second is a touch of brilliance.

    I feel like Heathers is the logical next step in 80s high school mythologizing after PiP.