Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Pretty in Pink

Writer-director John Hughes' The Breakfast Club is considered the quintessential 80s teen movie, but I think that his other film Pretty in Pink is also deserving of that title. Its plot is pretty simple: poor, misfit girl Andie falls in love with rich, popular guy Blaine and conflict ensues as they try to bridge their class and clique divide. Meanwhile, Andie's best friend, Duckie, has to deal with his enormous crush on her, and the fact that she's with a guy he considers a jerk.

Although the plot is pretty cliched, Hughes' film has a lot to say about class and clique conflict in a more subtle way than The Breakfast Club. Andie is on scholarship to attend Blaine's school, and not only is she poorer, she's more of an outsider than him in what she wears and who she hangs out with. Duckie is more of an alternative kid with his clothing and music tastes. Not only do Blaine's friends disapprove of Andie, but Andie's friends greatly disapprove of him, since they see the rich popular kids as nothing more than snobby and threatening. Blaine is the typical wimpy teenage guy as he tries to balance his friends' disapproval with his affection for Andie, and so winds up abandoning her several times. Andie, meanwhile, being an intelligent girl, has to decide if her relationship and feelings for Blaine are worth the conflict that it causes. She also has to deal with living with her poor father who is constantly on the hunt for jobs.

The aspect of the film which I thought was the most interesting and affecting, however, was in Duckie's anguish as he watches the girl he is in love with pursue a relationship with a guy who is not worth it. Interestingly enough, on imdb.com it said that the film originally ended with Andie winding up with Duckie, but test audiences preferred her ending up with Blaine. I think this is pretty unfortunate and that the original ending would have worked much better. The star-crossed lovers idea is pretty popular and appealing, but Blaine's insecurity over dating someone who is seemingly "inferior" damages their relationship throughout the film. Duckie, meanwhile, can truly relate to Andie and cares deeply for her - he is completely devoted. It is also more realistic, albeit perhaps less romantic, for her to date someone more similar to herself such as Duckie. Duckie is also a better character, with personality and humor.

Despite the ending, I still think this is a very enjoyable teen film. The character of Duckie is definitely original amidst all the cliches. The film also has a great soundtrack including such classic 80s alternative and new wave artists such as the Smiths, New Order, the Psychedelic Furs, and OMD. It's definitely a must-see film for the 80s.

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