March 16, 2016 Pretty in Pink – Decade Defining 30 Years Later
“I just want to let them know that they didn’t break me,” is just one of the oodles of memorable quotes from the cult Romantic Comedy classic Pretty in Pink. Released thirty years ago as of February 28, 1986 by Paramount Pictures, Pretty in Pink was the directorial debut of Howard Deutch (Some Kind of Wonderful 1987, The Replacements 2000) and was produced by Lauren Shuler (St. Elmo’s Fire 1985, X-Men: Days of Future Past 2014), Michael Chinich (Animal House 1978, Ghostbusters 11 1989), and Jane Vickerilla (The Breakfast Club 1985, Home Alone 1990).
The mastermind behind Pretty in Pink is none other than the legendary John Hughes (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off 1986, Home Alone 1990). He wrote the screenplay and executively produced this timeless high school love story. Hughes ultimately went on to inspire the “Brat Pack” movement of the 1980s with movies such as 1984’s Sixteen Candles, along with 1985’s The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, and St. Elmo’s Fire, even though he did not write the last one. Along with the story that has stolen many hearts is the amazing musical score by Michael Gore (Footloose 1984, The Hangover 2009), as well as New Wave, Post-Punk soundtrack album with a variety of artists that will be discussed more in depth later on in the review.
Pretty in Pink was filmed in California with an estimated budget of approximately nine million dollars and made over an estimated forty million at the box office. This movie takes place in an Illinois high school, like most of John Hughes films, and is a story about love, peer-pressure, and social cliques. Pretty in Pink could not have delivered such a compelling story without the lovable and charismatic characters played by Molly Ringwald (Sixteen Candles 1984, The Breakfast Club 1985), Jon Cryer (Hiding Out 1987, Two and a Half Men TV Series), Andrew McCarthy (Weekend at Bernie’s 1989, Mannequin 1987), James Spader (Less Than Zero 1987, The Blacklist TV Series), Annie Potts (Ghostbusters 1984, Toy Story 1995), and Harry Dean Stanton (Alien 1979, The Green Mile 1999).
Although viewers would never be able to tell because of their film chemistry, Jon Cryer has mentioned in past interviews that the other cast members were not too fond of him and that his personality was just different from his co-workers. In a biased opinion, Cryer is the perfect Duckie; his role stood out among the other characters, and he is one of the many reasons people love Pretty in Pink. Perhaps the original ending could have worked if an actor such as Robert Downey Jr. or Anthony Michael Hall (who both played in other Hughes films) would have played Duckie; but Hall turned the roll down, afraid of being type-casted as the “nerdy dude.” But fear not, if intrigued by the original ending or if the audience loves the idea of the geek getting the girl, check out the novel written by H.B. Gilmour and Randi Reisfeld that was adapted from the film and has the original ending!
What is this movie really about beyond the music and triangle love story? Andie (Ringwald) is a smart girl living on the poor side of the tracks, but she is brilliant, beautiful, driven, and even makes her own clothes. After her Mother left her a few years back, Andie has been the rock of the family as her Father (Stanton) is struggling with the change, not wanting to move on and working minimal amount of hours to support them. Although high school is a complete joke full of cliché cliques and bogus social standards of the rich and poor, Andie is lucky to have two of the best friends ever, Iona (Potts) and Duckie (Cryer), who is hopelessly in love with her.
Every day seems to be the same typical high school drama until Blaine, a rich good-looking guy, shows interest in Andie and they start dating. Guy likes girl, girl likes guy, it should be simple, right? Unfortunately, this is not the case as their friends from both sides judge them for their choices. Steff (Spader) gives Blaine crap about Andie not being one of them while, secretly, he is just envious because Andie would never give him the time of day. Meanwhile, Duckie is completely heartbroken and keeps his distance as he watches what he, for sure, thinks will be a dating disaster blow up in Andie’s face. You cannot forget Andie’s friend’s, Simon (Dweezil Zappa), famous one word line, “Kiss his ass,” after being asked what he would do if his dad came home a rich man.
When the peer pressure becomes too much, Andie and Blaine have a blow out, leaving everyone devastated and going to prom alone. Despite all the turmoil and high school ridden drama, everyone has a happy ending as Andie shows up to prom to face her doubters, reunites with Duckie, and comes face to face with Blaine, who says, “You said you couldn’t be with someone who didn’t believe in you. I believed in you, I always believed in you. I just didn’t believe in me. I love you…always.” He kisses her, he walks away, and shortly after, she runs after him… I guess it was meant to be!
The first opening sequence, the song “Pretty in Pink” by The Psychedelic Furs was re-recorded specifically for this film and helped set the tone throughout it. It is only one of the many songs and bands that had an influence on the film. Some of them include the band The Rave-Ups that are playing in the club scene, Duckie’s memorable scene dancing and lip-syncing to Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” as well as the changing of the end theme song from influential Electronic group Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s “Goddess of Love” to “If You Leave.” The band wrote the song within twenty-four hours to fit the new ending of the film, in which Blaine (McCarthy) ends up with Andie versus the original story where Duckie got the girl. Ironically, it became one of their biggest commercially successful singles in the USA and has transcended popular culture in the decades to follow. As for the film, the change happened when Ringwald did not believe that Andie and Duckie had that type of romantic connection beyond brotherly love, as well as the worry of sending the wrong message about rich and poor not ending up together. Not surprisingly, the film’s soundtrack has been rated as one of the best soundtracks in cinematic history.
All in all, Pretty in Pink is an amazing ’80s Romance classic that will forever be a favored among fans, because like most Hughes films, viewers can relate to the story and the characters. They can identify with them at one point or another in their life and want to see the characters succeed, or for the bullies to fail. Plus, as mentioned previously, the music throughout the film is timeless and brings back nostalgic memories. Although Hughes is gone, audiences can keep his memory alive by continually watching the beautiful stories he left behind and remember the girl in pink!