John Hughes is widely regarded as one of the most beloved filmmakers of his generation, and one whose work has proven to be timeless with the audiences of subsequent generations. To this day, teenagers are still discovering his legendary ’80s teen comedies to discover that the themes are still resonant in the contemporary climate. Of course, Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Home Alone are hallmarks of their respective holidays which play on television each passing year to high viewership and plenty of laughs. However, it’s Hughes’ teen comedies which really made many of us fall in love with his films in the first place; he wrote teenagers with flaws, fears and dreams which corresponded with our own at that age, and you’ll find that those issues remain the same for most despite the advancement of fashion, technology and the world in general.
That said, not every person is a fan of John Hughes. For every person who claims his film’s had a life changing effect on them in one way or another, there is another who’ll disagree. That’s the beauty of the human condition after all – subjective taste and a keen desire to engage in good old fashioned bloodshed to see whose opinion wins. That’s why we created the THUNDERDOME.
For this Valentine’s special, our comics editor and editor-in-chief have decided to step up to the podium and battle it out over Hughes’ cult classic romcom Pretty In Pink. Whose side are you on? Let us know in the comments below…
Rachel Bellwoar (Against)
Molly Ringwald John Hughes films are a rite of passage for movie lovers in high school, but until Pretty in Pink I’d only watched them to fulfil a requirement, not because I (almost) enjoyed one.
My entire opinion of this movie topples and falls on the ploy of its central romance. Forget how great Harry Dean Stanton was as Molly Ringwald’s Andie’s father. If you’re me, you’ll forget Stanton was a cast member, a memory obscured by the blight that is Andrew McCarthy’s Blane.
An otherwise promising picture, Pretty in Pink never fatigues of the nonsense that Blane is Andie’s love interest, from the moment he walks into the record store where she works and the music swells with amore.
I’m not saying ending up with Jon Cryer’s Duckie would’ve been the answer. I want to say that. I wish she had fallen for the guy in the hats who sings karaoke and listens to The Smiths (in the Pretty in Pink personality quiz of life, I would be a shyer Duckman). But that’s not how love always works, and, as crappy as it is to acknowledge, this film is probably smarter for not having Andie go through a sudden change of heart. Wishing she felt the same way doesn’t make it true, and it’s ultimately not her fault for remaining immune to the Duck’s many charms.
But where does Andie not having feelings for Duckie mean she must kiss Blane in the parking lot at prom, so she doesn’t end up without a boyfriend?
Blane is the worst. Not because he’s rich and has jerk friends. Not because Blane is “a major appliance. …not a name.” Those details make love tricky, and requiring of too much time spent with vapid, popular girls, but they don’t make love unworthy of fighting for.
The problem is every word that comes out of Blane’s mouth, from avoiding Andie’s concerns about prom (like he needs until ‘after school’ to address them), to ‘forgetting he asked someone else,’ to everything.
It’s Blane asking Andie if she wants to go home and change, when she’s dressed up. Don’t tell me he didn’t know better because he lives on the other side of the tracks. You don’t call out a girl’s outfit and pretend you didn’t mean anything negative by it.
It’s Blane saying he has “as much to lose” as Andie does, when she doesn’t endear to his idea of making their first date a party. Pegging her lack of excitement to wanting to hide their relationship from a waiting public, there’s not much to hide when they know anything about each other. First dates can solve that problem but a party with snobs won’t.
It’s Andie questioning his intentions, for asking her upstairs, and Blane responding with the assertion he hasn’t “even tried to kiss her yet.” How noble Blane. In the however many minutes it took you to drive from the mall to James Spader’s house you respected her personal space.
These lines should spell a courtship’s early demise but they don’t. When Duckie is a jerk (and he has his moments) everyone calls him out on it. Annie Potts actually apologizes to Blane for Duckie, which is infuriating and insulting. And, while too hurt to stop himself in the moment, Duckie knows he’s being a jerk when he’s being jerk. Blane doesn’t know. He doesn’t get called out. He’s simply allowed to continue.
Duckie went to prom for Andie. He fought James Spader when no one else was around to notice or write songs about it. He dressed up in the suavest blue suit. What did Blane do? Be in the right place (prom) at the right time? He didn’t know Andie would show up like Duckie did, having been her friend for years. Andie provides Blane with the perfect opportunity to give his speech about ‘love’ and he takes it. Had she not shown up, he would’ve stayed. No speech, and no managing to get the girl by doing absolutely nothing.
According to a bonus feature on the “Everything’s Duckie Edition” DVD, the original ending of Pretty in Pink had Andie dancing with Duckie, a decision that would have valued Duckie’s friendship without promising romantic attachment. Molly Ringwald was sick the day of filming, and poor test screenings had the scene changed to what it is now: flaking on her best friend for Blane, without a single dance to show for it. It’s the d*ck move that ruins Pretty in Pink forever.
KIERAN FISHER (FOR)
The reason why I love Pretty In Pink so much is because it really captures what it felt like to be a teenage girl in the ’80s, which is how I really felt inside growing up in the 2000s. Wait, that’s not it… It’s nothing like that at all actually.
John Hughes is a romanticised filmmaker, and I’m proud to admit that I’m caught up in the whirlwind of adoration that surrounds his legacy. But there was a sincerity to his movies that I don’t think the majority of filmmakers have captured quite as profoundly despite the obvious sugar coating. On the surface, it sometimes felt like he was embracing teenage stereotypes, but his high school comedies did contain an undercurrent of chaos I find irresistible.
Take Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; a film about the cusp of entering adulthood plagued by potentially life ruining decisions before the future was ever given a chance to blossom. It’s the ultimate catharsis because we’ve all dreamed of teenage rebellion at some point in our lives, and in that sense Ferris Bueller is a fairy tale of standing up to tyranny. That said, Ferris is unsure about what comes after, and growing up I found that element of the film quite menacing.
The Breakfast Club isn’t as sugar coated, however. While the central message of teenagers from all walks of life being able to find common ground is what warmed so many of us fans to it in the first place back when we were in our own melting pot high schools, you can’t help but feel there’s a darkness waiting ahead for John Bender (Judd Nelson) while the others progress to the steady lives their upbringing’s would seemingly dictate.
In short: while both films have plenty of positive feel good elements of living a dream, the end credits roll with a lingering tint of nightmare intact. Pretty In Pink is full of ’80s fluff, but to me, it still retains a quality of timeless, poignant real life pathos.
To me, Pretty In Pink is a wonderful satire of social critiques, but it also doesn’t give us the dream ending most viewers want. That’s what I like about it.
Blane is Prince Charming, and on a surface level we see why Andie wants him (even if he is a jerk). In an ideal world, she’d see that Duckie was the one… but he wasn’t. Neither were. Andie chose the dick – she didn’t have to choose any of them, but she did – and when the end credits roll and her character goes on to live her life in this universe we pretend is real, she’ll learn about it the hard way.
As much as we’d like to believe it at the time, our high school sweethearts rarely end our happily ever after. The relationship between Blane and Andie is superficial and insincere. If she did end up with Duckie, who knows what would have blossomed; maybe it would have been the rare case of happily ever after. However, I like to think that Andie’s poor decision making, Duckie’s infatuation and even Blane’s dickheadishness were merely extensions of their young naivety.
Pretty In Pink is a wonderful movie with a satisfyingly unsatisfying ending, because isn’t that high school romance for the majority of us who ever experienced it? Maybe we didn’t get the happily ever after we envisioned back then, but we grew from it as people and went on to live our lives, meet new people, share new experiences. I like to think Duckie and Andie found their happily ever after once they matured. Hopefully their friendship survives to this day as well… unless one of them is dead and the other is storing the body as a love playmate.