By Marc S. Sanders
Director Howard Deutch directs John Hughes script, Pretty In Pink, by adhering to the familiar themes quickly recognized as Hughes’ signature touch from prior films. Deutch and Hughes maintain a vibe of alternative rock music amid a Chicago public high school community that could never be possible. Did I have this much independence in high school like Molly Ringwald as Andie, her adoring rich boy crush Blaine (Andrew McCarthy), or weirdly annoying (and lovable at the same time) Duckie played by Jon Cryer? And, oh yeah, a high school senior asshole named Steph played by asshole character perfectionist James Spader with his long cigarettes, Italian suits and barely buttoned shirts would never exist in an institution of education. So, there’s that too.
The kids at this school are divided among two different sides of a track-poor (Andie & Duckie) and rich (Blaine & Steph). Never meant to socialize or get along, the conflict of the film occurs when Andie and Blaine fall for one another.
This is Molly Ringwald’s 3rd Hughes film and looking back maybe it was a mistake for her career as she was outgrowing the roles she was getting pigeonholed for. Still, who else could you envision in the role of the aspiring dress designer who is responsible for her schlub of a father she lives with (Harry Dean Stanton), and friends with a weirdly eccentric, 80s punk/alt dressed co-worker played by Annie Potts?
Hughes’ is quite serious here, though the setup is not acceptably realistic, even back in 1986. These characters are competitive with one another for status in a high school setting. What other environment could the outline for Pretty In Pink take place in, though? Prom is on the minds of these “adults.”
Pretty In Pink was never a perfect movie. It has a perfect soundtrack, and I like the cast a lot as well as Hughes’ characterizations. Its glaring imperfection, however, is that these characters fit like a circle in the square setting of high school. The elements clash big time.
Still, I’ve always had an unusual affection for the film. I guess it is because I look past its inaccuracies and accept a playing field and the positions that Hughes and Deutch defiantly assign to the four characters. How does the intrusion of background and status overcome an affection between two people, and can this ever be happily resolved?
The ending was supposed to be different, very different. Yes. I should agree with the original conclusion because the math of the story adds up to that point. However, Reader…I am as defiant a viewer as Hughes and Deutch were as filmmakers. It’s wrong!!!! Nevertheless, I loved the ending that was eventually tacked on. So don’t judge me.