After a truly exhausting holiday season, I have subsequently fallen ill. I was strong enough however to enjoy a coffee with a friend and mentor, which was both pleasant and refreshing for its balance of care and berating. The sign of a true friend, no?
One of my assignments was to watch Pretty in Pink. As an 80’s baby, I missed the boat on the John Hughes films. But my friend wanted me to watch it for the ‘eff everyone, I’m going to be me’ sentiment the film supposedly had. Andie is an impressive female role model for her time period.
That said, I often warn friends about not watching movies with me. My analytical brain paired with my knowledge of writing makes it really hard for me to fully enjoy films. A movie has to be really terrible for me to not enjoy it in the moment. By the time I walk out of the movie theater though, I am already picking at it. By the time we drive home, I’ve usually killed it completely.
Pretty in Pink isn’t a serious movie; I know that. But for fun, I took running notes on my assessment of the film. Here they are for anyone curious or looking for a giggle.
Setting not readily established – where are we? Takes a bit, but I gather California from the license plates. Still not exactly helpful.
Nitpick: Having a car is still a status symbol in high school, even an old one. Cost, insurance, gas… Even—if not especially more so—in the 80’s. Btw, where are the school buses!?
No real establishment of sympathy for Andie. We see her get dressed and wake up her dad. Her dad as a bum and she’s the responsible one comes off irritating, though their bonding moment is sweet.
Dream boy staring at her makes me wonder if they’ve ever even spoken? (Later in the stables that would be a resounding NO)
Intro of Duckie: his font of words is fun, but I don’t get a sense that Andie is enjoying his company or feels close to him at all. He especially feels like he’s panting after her with the lunch comment and asking if he can admire her later. The impregnating the girls in the hallway comment was totally unnecessary.
Class warfare: While Andie’s clothes, and those of her friends, are different—more eccentric—than the preppies, nothing about either set screams money versus impoverishment. At least not to a level clear enough to a non-contemporaneous viewer. The Carrie Diaries pulled off the style/class difference much better than this film in representing the fashion dynamic of the 80’s.
Also, what teacher ever did this? I never saw a teacher a.) Aware of students sniping at one another or b.) Punish student’s bad behavior with extra course work or especially c.) Apologize to the injured party on behalf of the asshole(s).
Afterschool Special: James Spader does not look like a high school student. At all. Nope. They do a great job of establishing Andie having self-worth and James Spader’s Steff being a douche of a man whore.
After School Work: Annie Potts’ Iona is just a fun character. She’s smart and independent. It’s good that Andie has a female to interact with. Seriously. Remove Iona and this movie fails the Bechtel Test hard. The prom talk was awesome, it’s nice to know the struggle has been going on for decades, go or don’t go? The staple gun is the highlight of this film.
Swagless Dreamboat Arrives: Blane is cute—I will give you that. If he’s supposed to have the silent crush bit going, it’s not working. There’s something weak in his demeanor that makes him socially awkward (or maybe it’s his chin?). Their ‘flirting’ at the register don’t work at all and Andie asking for the platinum American Express comes off too mean to be teasing. You can even see it in Blane’s face before he mutters cash. Iona’s phone conversation is all that saves the rest of this scene at Trax.
**Sketchpad note. Okay, she likes fashion and can sew, but she is NOT a designer. I want to be clear on that right here. I don’t even know what she’s drawing right here, but it’s angsty teenager art, not a design sketch. Also of note, we never see her with fashion magazines, and her room doesn’t suggest a love of fashion either.
Club scene – Hey look at that, bandmates check the ethnicity box! Now back to your regularly scheduled fill of mayo.
Still don’t know who these people are with Andie. Andie’s bit about dating a rich guy is random and you can tell it from her female friend’s reaction. Leftfield much?
Duckie – He is the most entertaining character in this film, so I understand his fan following. He consumes an impressive portion of the script, I’d be curious to know the percentage versus the rest of the cast. Here with Dice Man and then with Andie’s dad we get the only real strong outline of any character arc in the film. He loves his childhood friend. But he’s in his own world with it—he’s immature and a fair bit selfish. Thus the importance of the scene with Andie’s dad, Duckie’s love is one sided and not actually about Andie and her happiness or wellbeing. Duckie isn’t enough of a person in his own right to be in a relationship with anyone, let alone someone as far along as Andie.
Computer Lab – As a modern viewer, the computer aspect was simply fun. And oh, listen to the joyful clacking of mechanical keyboards! A bit loud for a library, lol. Points to Blane as that was some impressive work to pull off on a stunt like that on an Apple. It actually made the list of Top 25 Films with Unrealistic Computer Scenes. Their fail at the music store is patched up here with those derpy faces.
Dad and Duckie – Duckie is so thick when Andie’s dad starts talking about her mom. Thank you for someone giving Duckie some straight talk. It establishes his arc and it gives us some grounding for what is going on with Andie’s dad. This scene, though it is strange to think of Duckie dropping by for such a chat, provides the most information in the whole film in terms of showing rather than telling.
Workin’ – Music flirting really does not work for these two. The alarm jinx don’t make me like Duckie at all. Forget interrupting the lovers tete-a-tete, it’s just irritating. Nothing Duckie has done makes me like him or want to be in his corner.
Le Phone – Why does Andie have an answering machine in her room? Duckie, you’re not winning any more points here. And I don’t know how it worked in this particular time period, but how would Blane have her phone number? She is expecting him to call, so…?
Breakfast – Dad’s awake early. That’s not suspicious at all. Also, opera. Somehow I sense that’s OOC for this guy. And um, if they’re supposed to be pretty close, yet he doesn’t know his daughter doesn’t like eggs? WTF. And dad’s continued weird behavior isn’t transparent at all.
This Bench is for Lovers – Rich people don’t go outside? I don’t understand the setting here at all. Is this the lunch break or…? These are some weirdly aggressive, territorial teens. And pick me up at the mall? Trax doesn’t look like it’s at a mall…
Leisure Suit Larry – James Spader, the suit, the chest hair! We get to establish the depths of his douche and see how tiny Blane’s…spine is. This scene is a waste because it doesn’t really put pressure on Blane. His dick of a best friend doesn’t like Andie. That’s not a surprise to us, shouldn’t be to Blane, and it doesn’t address any of the actual issues that would exist if they date. If anything, the “you can’t bring that home to mommy and daddy” card should have been played here.
Duckie Can’t Read – Andie calls out his academic stupidity, though we can’t tell if he’s ever been good at coursework. The ‘avoiding the future’ line is good here, as it applies to them both. Though if Leisure Suit Steff was right in his first scene, there’s a month (or less) left before they graduate? This all feels a bit too little too late if that’s correct. This is also the only heartfelt, close scene we get between Duckie and Andie—yet it’s filled with too much telling vs showing. She tells us how many times they see each other or talk during the day, or that she acts irritated with him but she’s not. It’s not explained to us why they might not see each other all the time after they graduate—Andie’s college education plans come again, too little too late. By now she knows she has a scholarship and to where—what kind of school is it? But that appears to not exist in this scene.
Gym-nasti-cs – I don’t get why Andie’s only female peer is bit of a cow. Smoking in school and attacking the preppies? For later pulling the ‘your friends suck’ card on Blane, Andie doesn’t have the best leg to stand on…
Principle Plotty – Wait, he just said we only have a couple of month’s left of school? Now I’m not sure if that makes Blane’s moves pathetically slow or if they didn’t hire a continuity person. Andie is too smart for her principle. I don’t feel it’s particularly clear that Jenna was ‘defending’ herself in this exact instance. If she was, then sound editing dropped the ball because even on a second watch, I have no idea what the preppies were muttering about. Minus points that it took 34 minutes to find out Andie has a scholarship, nevertheless is intending to go to college. Two scenes ago she didn’t know what next year was going to look like…
Duckie To The Not Rescue – This is not how you ask a girl out for the weekend. And don’t assume you have plans when she says no. What is this fight scene?
Dancing Duck – I’m a little lost that Andie wouldn’t tell her best friend she was feeling it for a guy and go on a date with him. I get being nervous about the whole thing, but wow. Way to setup Duckie’s emotional meltdown and subsequent immature raging. In a sense, his reaction in saying “No more!!” is totally founded.
Dream Date Disaster – Why would you take someone you’re trying to get to know to a party full of your friends? You don’t know if you really like this person and you really want to throw them in with your friends? OMG. They can’t even cross the street to his car without imploding. That whole conversation was painful. I feel for Duckie in the Rain. I had my hands over my head too.
Partay – Is this Blane’s first prep party? I never went to any high school parties (neeeeerd!) but wow. Blane’s bit with the beer and pretzels was cute. Why do they get suckered into Lesuire Suit Steff’s den of stupidity? Clearly there was sex going on here. This is his last big party before they graduate? This time line! I want to go home, too, Andie!
Catz – Because going to the Preppy Nightmare wasn’t bad enough, let’s go bipolar and go to Indie Club Land. Duckie bits go everywhere! Lesson to learn here – make real plans for a date. First time? Do something quiet with just the two of you, ta da.
Drop Me By the Tracks – It’s okay to be nervous/embarrassed about where you live. Just own up to it, apologize, and it’s over. Don’t flip out! Geez. When she goes inside and tells her dad, I legit thought he was going to assume it was Duckie asking to marry Andie. Fail. Good dad convo overall though.
Annie Beehive – Nice breather after that train wreck of a date. Iona is simply great and that dress is cute. I envy her ability to do such diverse styles with her hair and makeup.
Steff Snot – Telling instead of showing. We need to establish what’s going to hold Blane back here and they really don’t. He gets flack about having to pick friends over the girl, um, these quality friends? And mentioning his parents—telling us about them, simply isn’t enough to support his subsequent behavior.
Love Amongst the Haystacks – I don’t even know what to make of this date. More telling over showing. All we see is Andie drooling over him and Blane being a bit of a weanie who doesn’t know what to do with such a cool, honest girl. He looks so pathetic through he whole scene, geez. Apparently he gets in trouble for this date location later?
80’s Saleswomen – Did people not know what customer service was in the 80’s? I mean, between this and Pretty Woman…
Blane-less – Who? Andie. Who?
Hey look, she has a sketchbook again! I wonder what she’s doodling now…
Failure Godfather – The dress is a beautiful color. You know, pink. Like everything else I own and wear. Like I can compensate for my absentee mother, let’s fight about that! I actually don’t have any issues with this plot aspect and it’s well had in the story. It works for Andie and her dad and also ties to Duckie’s arc. It reminds us of why Andie cannot end up with Duckie—he’s too much like her father and she doesn’t want to be her mother.
Place Head Here – Blane proves his weanieness, Andie is a BAMF, Steff continues to be scaly, and Duckie finds an appropriate rage target.
At the Copa – Terrance has like three lines and I like him more than the three central protagonists… Iona is adorable, but I didn’t exactly get the bit about the ensemble she’s wearing being ‘normal’. She kinda looks like a dude (yes, it’s the 80’s, Annie Lennox and… but STILL!!) I love that despite having a date, she takes time to care for her friend. That doesn’t happen in real life.
Fashion Montage! – Proof in not in the pudding, but in the eating. Andie is NOT a designer. I don’t have to tell you she’d be laughed out of a fashion school for that sketch, do I? And I have trouble believing mashing up two dresses into one doesn’t still require you know, patterns, and a dress form. At least the dress looks handmade in the end?
Walk – Andie and her dad win again for best conversation. They didn’t break you, chica J
Promenade – Why do we hear Jenna and Steff talking at all? This conversation has no bearing on anything. Duckie appearing at Prom is awesome, but it feels a bit non sequitur. They haven’t spoken, they didn’t make up previously, and how did he know she was going to go on her own? Oh, and he doesn’t work, we don’t know where he lives, and he doesn’t have a car (or probably a license) so how did he get here?
Though I imagine this is the moment that makes all of the Duckie fangirls love him over Blane.
Blane, slow to the game, but at least he caught up? Suck on that Steff.
And look at that, Duckie has grown up a ton! Too bad we don’t really know how… but whatever. Shake that hand!
Blane pins the tail on the donkey (himself) with his not believing in myself speech.
Duckie is adorable with is romantic moment comment and he’s so cute with the chic checking him out.
I didn’t want Andie to end up with Duckie. Or Blane. I don’t know if it was Duckie’s marriage talk in the beginning or Steff and the ‘your parents won’t go for her’ speech, but it gave whom Andie ended up with too much of a sense of finality. I don’t think Andie marries Blane in the future. Or Duckie. And WTH happened with her dad and getting a job? Because nothing can cripple a college education like taking care of an inept parent. Congrats on accomplishing zero sense of closure with some really awkward kissing in the parking lot.
Overall, this film was not terrible. But it serves as just another reason to not take Gigi to the movies with you.