Pretty In Pink
Younger film fans may find this difficult to believe but once upon a time a movie about a teenaged girl in love with a teen boy above her social status did not include drug and alcohol inspired lust and sex. Strange as it seems there were movies where gentle, emotional films that was more concerned with feelings and character development. Now a film about teen love is usually rated ‘R’, obviously. Back then they were also more family oriented and rated PG or perhaps PG-13. Paramount is releasing a series of films with teen angst as the theme all from the eighties. Although these movies are now well over two decades old they still hold up as classics. The undisputed king of this era was John Hughes. While he did direct and wrote other films over the course of his long career his teen movies from the eighties are his most memorable and most loved by the audience. Sure there are many parts of his films that are corny, especially by today’s standards but they were fun to watch. For many who are adults now they can look back at these films and see a piece of their personal history. Even for those of us fully grown starting our own families back then these films remain a part of movie history. They are also a time capsule of the decade. When you look at a movie like the under consideration here, ‘Pretty in Pink’ many will shutter at the hair styles, fashion and music. The eighties were a decade caught between the free spirited sixties and seventies and the materialism of the nineties. This disjointed decade is epitomized by films like this and besides, they still are just plain fun to watch. So, since there are currently no time machines on the market this is the next best way to travel back to the eighties for 90 minutes or so.
Directing this classic was Howard Deutch. There are only two films in the John Hughes teen flick catalog that he did not write and direct and Deutch severed as director for both of them. These two films were ‘Pink’ and ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’. In both Deutch employs a straightforward style of direction that lays out the story in an easy to digest fashion. He starts off with a brief introduction to the characters and a bit of exposition to set up the coming conflict and then he is off and running. This film is generally fast paced in so much as the plot is advanced quickly. Deutch does, however, take enough time to let the audience get to care about the characters. The visual style here is admittedly not the best in this series of films. Deutch seems to concentrate more on the characters and situations than the settings. In some ways this works out since this is a tale told many times and set in a myriad of locations. His main point here is to show the kids in a realistic manner. He shows the teens as people, not stereotypes. Deutch lets the movie flow and speak for itself. it is refreshing to see a teen oriented movie that does not have substance abuse, indiscriminate sex and other such foolishness. Deutch delivers a well crafted film that has stood the test of time much better than most of us who remember the theatrical release of this movie.
When it comes to teen anguish no one does it better than John Hughes. Many of his films had several members of the Brat Pack, a group of popular up coming young actors. Almost every one of them started their rise to fame with a Hughes flick or two under their belts and for most of them they are still going strong in their careers. Hughes always set is films in the small fictional town of Shermer, Illinois. He could have used a big city location but this small town feel was much more conducive to the gentle nature of his stories. There are a lot of similarities in most of the scripts Hughes has done. Some deride him for this saying he is a formulaic hack. This couldn’t be further from the truth. He found enduring themes such as young love, class prejudice and peer pressure and looked at it from different points of view. He wrote about what teens cared about. He used pop music and teen fashions in all of his movies which did have the tendency to date them a lot but it made for instant appeal with the kids of the day. Even for adults watching this movie there is always a touch of nostalgia. In one way or another we have all lived parts in a Hughes flick.
The first scene of the movie uses a shot that Deutch seems to enjoy in these flicks. He visually represents the wrong side of the tracks theme by showing actual railroad tracks. Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) is a typical teen girl who enjoys the latest fashion and new age music. She is considered a social outcast, someone from the wrong side of the proverbial tracks. He father, Jack (Harry Dean Stanton) is unemployed and since Andie’s mother left awhile back has been struggling as a single father. Needless to say they are poor so Andie has to drive a beat up Karmann Ghia and the only way that she can afford to keep up with the new age fashions is her talent in sewing and design. Her best friend is Duckie (Jon Cryer) who is also from a lower class family and has embraced the new age look. Cryer sports one of the most outlandish pompadours in film second only to Brad Pitt’s coiffure in ‘Johnny Suede’. He has always had a crush on Andie but is unable to express his true feelings. He winds up constantly riding his bike around her house by laughs it off as a joke. He is the target of every prank and joke the rich kids can think up. Two of the most unrelenting tormentors are Benny (Kate Vernon) and Steff (James Spader) who never pass up an opportunity to taunt Duckie. One of the richest of the group is Blaine (Andrew McCarthy). He has secretly had a crush on Andie but would never admit liking a lower class girl. Andie becomes more and more infatuated with Blaine and eventually he begins to notice her. All of this begins to grate on Duckie who still can’t tell Andie how much he loves her.
As mentioned this is another part of the Paramount ‘I Love the Eighties’ series. Since this one is so closely tied to ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ it would make for a great double feature eighties night at home. The anamorphic 1.85:1 video is generally okay although it is a bit grainy. The audio is a little lacking in the lower end and the rear speakers don’t get a lot to do. It is a plain vanilla release with no extras contained. Still, this is a classic that helped to make the eighties so memorable for so many. This is not the greatest flick of the time but it is fun to watch and family friendly.