Tuesday, 2 February 2010

John Hughes: The Brat Pack films that defined an era - Part Five: Pretty In Pink

Like The Breakfast Club before it, Pretty In Pink is one of the defining moments in teen cinema of the 80s, and is still fondly remembered to this day by millions of people all over the world who found themselves relating to Duckie or Andie a little more than they would care to admit to. Once again we are given a film in which the characters created by John Hughes work their way into our hearts quickly and with great poignancy.

This film was directed by Howard Deutch, but its script is 100% John Hughes, and it shows that the maturity he demonstrated with The Breakfast Club was no fluke. The cast is brilliant, not to mention every bit the 80s classic standard- Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer, Andrew McCarthy and James Spader all put in excellent performances, as do the supporting characters played by Harry Dean Stanton and Annie Potts.

The story is a fairly simple affair, following a poor girl (Ringwald) falling for a rich boy (McCarthy) while her besotted friend (Cryer) watches on in horror and a lecherous rich guy (Spader) lords it over the social scene. It's an interesting look at how each half lives and socializes, and the poorer, working class characters are depicted as the most human, while the rich characters tend to come across as superficial and out of touch with reality (much like real life, really).

The scenes in the record shop where Andie works, and the club in which she socializes, are perfect examples of 80s pop culture captured on film, and should be savoured by anyone with a passion for the era. The film is funny and bitter-sweet, and one of the finest examples of the Hughes teen era alongside The Breakfast Club. The humour and the drama are well balanced, making for a very satisfying film, well, right up until the ending.

If you haven't seen the film, shame on you, as I'm going to spoil the ending now. After social and emotional difficulties and some great scenes of soul searching, Andie does finally get together with the rich Blane (McCarthy), which is an ending that has never really sat all that easily with a great many fans of the film. Many of us wanted Duckie to be the winner and have Andie finally realize just how awesome he is.

The Duckie character is quite tragic, and despite all of his funny lines and moments of brilliance, he ends up as the loser. It's a sad moment that has never sat well with me, even though there's a shot where Duckie does finally find someone. That aside, the film is great. The soundtrack is a thing of beauty, with some excellent songs filling things out very nicely around the glorious 'Pretty in Pink' by the Psychedelic Furs.

Pretty in Pink is the best of the romantic comedies of the Brat Pack era that John Hughes brought us, and while it does have its faults, it also has a very honest streak running through it. The film might not have the ending that it needed, but it did have every bit of teen angst and social horror that everyone's teenage years fling at them at one point or another. A film to cherish and enjoy for what it is.

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