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PRETTY IN PINK

1986, dir. Howard Deutsch
96 min, Rated PG-13.
Starring: Molly Ringworm, Andrew McCarthy, Jon Cryer, and the coolest guy Pop Will Eat Itself ever named a song after.

Review by Noel Wood

So I'm watching Pretty in Pink last night. The John Hughes-penned Pretty in Pink. Until recently, I assumed Pretty in Pink was actually directed by Mr. Hughes, but it turned out I was wrong. Howard Deutsch was behind the camera for this one. I actually had a trivia question asking to name the seven movies Hughes directed in the 1980's, and I listed that one without even second guessing. By the way, did you ever realize how much John Hughes looks like Edward Hermann from The Lost Boys? Just a random observation. Anyway, I'm off point here.

So I'm watching Pretty in Pink last night. Not the whole thing, mind you, but the last hour or so as it appeared on Turner Classic Movies. Apparently, Pretty in Pink is a classic now as well. I didn't think TCM had started going that modern with their movies like AMC had, but then I realized that it's been almost 20 years since Molly Ringwald brought Andie Walsh to life and I suddenly started to feel really old about the whole thing. But I'm still off the point here.

So I'm watching Pretty in Pink last night. Not that I really needed to, because I hung around with all the drama nerds and other various social outcasts when I was in high school so I had been exposed to the film about 4,563,287 times in the past. But still, I was watching it, remembering all the other times I had watched it. And I watched it a lot. It was never one of my favorites from the era; I mean, it was no Breakfast Club or Say Anything or Ferris Beuller's Day Off, but I still watched it. A lot. And something about the film bothered me. In retrospect, it turns out it wasn't the film that bothered me, but the way that people perceived said film. This actually leads me to my point.

You see, whenever I watched Pretty in Pink with my adolescent cohorts, or even when I was discussing said film, I always heard the same mantra. Generally, it was the females that repeated it, but occasionally you heard one of the boys buy into the same fallacy. I'm sure you've heard it before. Hell, you may have even repeated it a few times. Most of you know the mantra before I even cite it, but just in case you haven't figured it out, here it goes again:

"Andie ended up with the wrong guy at the end!"

Yes, the notion that Andie should have wound up with Jon Cryer's Phil "Duckie" Dale rather than Andrew McCarthy's Blane is a popular one. And why not? After all, Duckie was quirky and funny, and obviously admired Andie from the beginning; while Blane was just this rich dude who dicked her over before the senior prom. It all seems so logical, right?

Wrong.

Obviously, you all have been watching a different movie than I have for the last two decades. Because, let's face it: despite the nearly iconic status the guy has been held up to for a generation or more, despite how cute you might think he looks with his gay little vest and John Lennon sunglasses and pompadour, the bottom line is that Duckie Dale sucked ass.

You heard me. Duckie was a terrible character, and I've thought so since my first viewing of this fine film. And I don't mean that he was poorly developed or acted. Not at all. Cryer did a fine job of playing a character that John Hughes wrote well. I just mean that the character of Duckie Dale, regardless of how much you might like him, was a complete piece of shit. If you met this guy in real life you would think he was a total sleazebag.

Let's look at it realistically. Duckie admired Andie, and there's nothing wrong with that on the surface. The problem was that Duckie was obsessed with Andie. I'm sure that somewhere in his bedroom, he kept some shrine that most crime experts would liken to the type of thing you'd expect from one of those dudes that wind up slicing the objects of their affections into bite-sized chunks. But even on the surface, Duckie wasn't cool to Andie. Despite her noted lack of interest in Duckie, he still made comments to her that would get someone sued for sexual harassment in this day and age. And to make matters worse, she kept him around as a friend. Why? Because she was so goddamn insecure that she needed him around to make her feel better, despite the fact that the dude was borderline psychotic about her.

And to make matters even worse, Duckie even acknowledges that Andie is insecure, and uses it to further prey on her. Let's look at one of the telling monologues from Duckie in one of his most tense, frightening, inches-away-from-committing-a-crime-of-passion moments:

"Well, that's very nice. I'm glad. Well here's... here's the point, Andie. I'm not particularly concerned with whether or not you like me, because I live to like you and... and I can't like you anymore. So... so when you're feeling real low and... and dirty, don't look to me to pump you back up 'cause... 'cause... 'cause maybe for the first time in your life I WON'T BE THERE!"

You see that? At her most fragile point, Duckie completely went nuts on her. And you know what she does after all of this? She forgives him. She forgives this guy who spends the first half of the movie making sexual innuendos towards her. She forgives this guy who completely flips out and acts like he's her pimp when she shows up with Blane at the bar. She forgives this guy who delivers the quote above, which is one of the most self-absorbed, arrogant things I've ever heard someone say.

Meanwhile, there's Blane. Andrew McCarthty, despite his acting technique which consists primarily of varying the wideness of his eyes, still does a decent enough job playing the rich guy who falls for the girl from the other side of the tracks. But when it comes down to it, Blane wasn't that bad a guy. Sure, he did the one dickish thing when he dissed Andie for the prom, but it was obvious that he didn't do that because he wanted to. Blane was confused. He didn't want to upset the balance with all of his rich friends, but later realized that they were all assholes anyway. It was obvious from the start that he regretted the decision to dump her. Really, it's no worse than when Diane Court gave Lloyd Dobler the pen. Outside of that one incident, Blane always acted like a gentleman. He stood up for Andie when Duckie was berating her, he treated her like a lady without patronizing her, and he respected all of her wishes.

And I don't even want to get in to the hideousness that is the dress Andie makes herself for her appearance at the prom. What the hell was wrong with the one you stole from Iona? How happy do you think she was she found out you shredded her dress?

Oh, sure, Duckie made his little face turn at the end of the film when he tells Andie to go for it and then winds up dancing with the real Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but that one fleeting moment doesn't make up for the fact that the guy was a real douchebag for the rest of the film.

So, in other words, Andie didn't end up with the wrong guy. Maybe she should have stayed away from both of them in the end, but if it's simply a matter of choosing between Duckie and Blane, then she made the right choice. If you really want to look at a movie where the star ends up with the wrong person at the end, then look no further than another John Hughes-penned and Howard Deutsch-directed film from this era, Some Kind of Wonderful, which was basically just Pretty in Pink with the gender roles reversed. I mean, Amanda Jones wasn't exactly the ideal mate for Keith, but dude made a bad choice when he hooked up with Watts at the end. Way to toss a friendship right out the window: enter into a silly high school romance that is bound to end in three weeks with the two of you hating one another.

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