A rich guy falls for a poor girl in this John Hughes high school drama.
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During the 80s, John Hughes wrote a lot of films about high school woe. Storylines about the popular against the unpopular, the geeks against the jocks, the poor against the rich. Pretty in Pink is about the latter and is by far the best of these modern day fairytales. It is an intelligent yet quirky look at teen insecurities which captures the 80s zeitgeist perfectly.
Molly Ringwald plays Andie, a pretty girl who lives with her father in a rundown neighborhood. Her best friend, Duckie (Jon Cryer) is an eccentric geek who is hopelessly in love with her. They go to a privileged school that is dominated by rich kids and are unfortunately outcasts because of their unprivileged background, falling into the circle of misfits. The school is so segregated by this class system that even lunch areas are separated by inside and outside areas for the popular and unpopular. It is in the popular circle that Blane (Andrew McCarthy) resides with his arrogant friend Steff, (James Spader) who immediately looks down his nose at Blane's fondness and attraction to Andie. His loathing of the relationship hides the reality that Andie has turned down his advances in the past. As their relationship develops they are forced to choose between their heart and their friends.
Pretty in Pink is all about social standards and the prejudice of class relationships, which although exaggerated are still evident in this day and age. I love the character of Andie, who, even at her worst moments never comes across as weak or phony. So many teen films lack strong characters that seem believable. I like that the character has other issues going on in her life rather than just the woe of falling in love with the wrong guy. She has to deal with her bum of a father, often taking on the reverse role of parent rather than child, waking him up in the mornings, trying to find him work and dealing with her mum walking out on them in a mature way. Her older friend Lona also adds depth to her character and brings her own quirky characteristics to the story. A lot of people are fond of the character ‘Duckie’, who I am not so keen on. I like the character dimensions he brings to the film but find him annoying in some scenes. His Otis Redding impersonation, although entertaining is a bit overdone and I can't help but feel it was thrown in just to give the character more isolated screen time.
I find it is the little touches that makes Pretty in Pink a great nostalgic film. The outfits are brilliant – especially if you want to be inspired by the 80s fashion. The big hair, exaggerated makeup, smoking in gym class and the hall are all reminiscent of a time lost. The soundtrack is fantastic, and I am not sure some scenes would have the same impact without it. It boasts hits from The Smiths, Psychedelic Furs, Echo and the Bunneymen, INXS and uses New Order’s Elegy at the most poignant of moments. In retrospect, it is now Andie and her 'mutant' group as Steff refers to her, who are undoubtedly cool in their underground alternativeness.
Yes, they all look way too old to play high school kids and the ending is a bit of a let down but if you can get over that then Pretty in Pink is a clever and entertaining film without being overly cheesy and repetitive.