Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Pretty in Pink (1986)

I know it’s hard to believe that anyone in the free world hasn’t seen “Pretty in Pink,” but I actually just saw the movie. I know, bizarre, huh? The thing is, I think there are just some movies, even iconic ones like this, that you miss out on if you don’t see them when they come out. This film came out in 1986. It isn’t like five years later, when I was in college, I had friends saying, “Hey, why don’t we hang out and watch ‘Pretty in Pink’?” So the years went by, and now I finally got around to seeing it.

Molly Ringwald plays Andie, a smart girl from the wrong side of the tracks who gets picked on by the rich bitches at her high school and who finds herself having to chose between 2 guys. On the one hand, there is Duckie (Jon Cryer), her lifelong best friend and fellow outcast, whom she thinks of as a brother. On the other hand is Blaine (Andrew McCarthy), a funny, mysterious, charmingly sincere, good-looking, rich kid. If anyone watching this movie actually had any doubt in their mind whom Andie would choose, then they deserve some kind of award for actually knowing less about women than I do. In any event, Duckie has this secret crush on Andie but lacks the walnuts to even ask her to Prom. Blaine, meanwhile, comes on really strong at first, but winds up ditching Andie under pressure from his preppy friends, including an asshole named Steff (James Spader.) With prospects like these, I think Andie should just remain a virgin until college.

I didn’t like “Pretty in Pink” nearly as much as “The Breakfast Club” or “16 Candles.” This movie is way more of a chick flick, by which I mean that the entire movie is about which of these two guys Andie is going to date. As I said already, I was rooting for neither. Duckie is nerdily cool, and a good friend, but Andie has no chemistry with him. She has tons of chemistry with Blaine, but I found it impossible to root for the guy. He seems nice, but then why does he hang out with a stereotypical rich jerk like Steff? Plus, a guy named Blaine really ought to have a stronger chin. Harry Dean Stanton is sympathetic as Andie’s single father, but, like all the male characters in the film, he is just not quite respectable.

Probably the most likable character is Andie’s boss Iona, played with sexy panache by Annie Potts. She is a hipster who lives in Chinatown, owns a record store, and changes her hair daily. She’s a mother figure for Andie, and she provides Andie with evidence that being a single woman is not the end of the world. This is a message that young women need to hear, and Iona sent it long before “Sex and the City.”

Come to think of it, “Sex and the City” and “Pretty in Pink” share a feminine, feminist attitude. They are both about strong, independent women who are doing the heavy lifting in their lives while also being pretty in pink.

3.5 stars out of 5

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