This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
John Atticus’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
“Pretty In Pink” is a 1986 romantic drama directed by Howard Deutch starring Molly Ringwald and Jon Cryer.
"Pretty In Pink" sees everything through rose-coloured glasses and mistakes indecision, small talk and morbid obsession for love, pairing Ringwald's genuinely likeable if bland protagonist with toxic, creepy and dumb love interests, and even if her performance feels natural as per usual and the film scratches on the surface of some mature themes at times, the kitschy and predictable plot, shallow and totally unlikeable male characters and the total absence of romantic atmosphere make for a weird and sadly uncomfortable John Hughes flick that has aged terribly and is wrong on so many levels.
The more I watch the works of John Hughes, the more I begin to realize that his filmography is not flawless and that his movies are rather a hit or miss. Aside from the ultimate coming of age masterpiece “The Breakfast Club” and the festive classics “Home Alone” and “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”, there are many other many other iconic films, but since we all know that iconic does not automatically mean great, many of his films are questionably mediocre to bad. While I can unreservedly say that the previously mentioned titles are all magical and timeless, it is the total opposite in this and other cases. In general, this film here feels like the spiritual successor, remake and rip-off of “Sixteen Candles” - and there many reasons that make me think that. You don't believe me? Well, we have a shy but relatbale female protagonist portrayed by Molly Ringwald, and in the course of the film she is the centre of a weird love triangle as the part of which she is courted by a mysterious and bland snot and a pushy and over-confident creep. Sounds all too familiar, doesn't it? The fact that Anthony Michael Hall, alumni of the original film, was asked to play the role of the intrusive creep makes it perfectly clear, even more when he turned it down immediately, stating that it is just a rip-off. Is this already the doom of this film? No, not really, there are several more reasons that contribute to the film being terrible. A prominent issue I have with the film are the characters. Even though Ringwald plays protagonist Andie with the usual sweetness and relatability, she really does not have a distinct personality that differentiates her from her “Sixteen Candles” character Samantha. In general, both are shy and “different” wallflowers who try to find their place in the world, and while it has been sort of new in the first film, it is nothing short of lazy to recycle the same character for another and only slightly altered film. The same issue applies to the two male love interests. Andrew McCarthy's Blane is shallow as hell and only a walking stereotype. Yeah, he is rich as hell, he has pretty face and … well, nothing else – that's it! Maybe the fact that he is a jerk can count as a character trait, because he is impressionable and cares about other people's opinions too much. However, at least he is not as obnoxious as Jon Cryer's Duckie. Boy, like Anthony Michael Hall's Geek in “Sixteen Candles” (notice how often I draw comparison to this film?), he is just unbearable and makes the whole film feel extremely uncomfortable. He is extremely intrusive, morbidly obsessive and plainly weird – and not in a quirky-and-somewhat-sweet way, but in a creepy and sexually harassing way – because he is literally stalking Andie. What makes it even worse? The fact that Andie does not run rings around him and furthermore tolerates and fuels his creepiness. Seriously, instead of saying no and admonishing him, she tells him to stay this way. What? Yeah, this is exactly what I asked myself multiple times, and it is not even the end of all the stupidity this film has to offer. Like many other things, the image of love in this film has aged terribly, terribly, terribly. Apparently, flirting and talking about records is enough for two completely strange people to be a couple. Seriously, this is exactly what happened. As already expected, Andie getting together with Blane brings out the worst in Duckie, who becomes a total jerk in the process. The fact that his feelings were one-sided did not give him the right to act like this, and even if it is wrong in the viewer's eyes, it is teenage behaviour – what however does not change that it is wrong. What makes it so dumb, though, is that the film does not clearly disapprove of this behaviour and rather depicts it as a justifiable thing – another thing that made me facepalm. In the mean time, while Duckie licks his wounds, Blane does not behave any better. Next to the fact he drags Andie to a party of his rich kid friends, most prominently his best friend Steff (wonderfully unlikeable performance by James Spader), he is ashamed to been seen with her in public. Once again, wrong behaviour, not shown with the necessary disapproval. As it was clear from the very beginning, all male characters in this film are total jerks and unlikeable douches. All of them? No, because despite his short screen time, Harry Dean Stanton's performance as Andie's father offers a lot of what I have been missing throughout. Yes, in only a handful of scenes, important topics such as true love, anxiety about the future and letting go are discussed, but sadly all of them are overshadowed by the central kitschy and clichéd love triangle. In the final act, I really thought that the film would at last get its act together, but sadly that was only a short moment. After she has been treated like dirt by her two love interests, Andie decides to go to prom alone and with a self-made dress. Honestly, I really thought that the film would eventually convey a wonderful message for young teenagers, young girls especially, that love should not be wasted on every nimrod that comes along … but of course it had to be a “happy ending”. Without any character development that justified their redemption, Andie allows Duckie back in her life (he did not even factually say sorry) and only takes him because she did not want to be alone, and after that he gets back together with Blane. Hooray, hooray, they are so in love! I know, those were the eighties, everything was different back in the day, but you cannot tell me that it is in any way morally justifiable. Like, the boys treat this sweet and charming girl like dirt, tell her that they love her, only to maltreat her again – and this film literally conveys that all of this is acceptable, because she comes around in the end anyway? Hell, no! This is just wrong on so many different levels, as it perpetuates the image that boys can behave like they want and get the girl, nevertheless. Just. Plainly. Wrong. No matter what the film tries, the male characters in this film are just toxic and not romantic! It would have been the perfect ending if Andie in fact had dumped the two for good and went stag. Thus, she would have kept her dignity and been a role model for millions of girls who idolized Molly Ringwald. In the end, I am still amazed by how it is possible that this film was written by the man who also wrote “The Breakfast Club” - where he literally proved that he is capable of sensitivity and empathy for boys and girls alike – because this one suffers severely from a lack of comprehension for love and values. It is neither romantic nor funny – just unpleasant and wrong on many levels. That is what happens when a man tries to understand the emotional world of a teenage girl and fails miserably Seriously, if there is one film that requires a female directed and written remake, it is definitely this one, because ultimately, it is just a poorly-conceived and hot mess. Hard to believe that Hughes (according to himself) went on to rehash the same formula once again in “Some Kind Of Wonderful” … a film I am not interested in watching at all.