When it comes to movies about forbidden love, Shakespeare adaptations have nothing on John Hughes’ 1986 classic, Pretty in Pink. Centered around the intelligent, “offbeat” beauty that is Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald, the only person who could have played the role), the tale is a classic one of two people who are attracted to one another, but divided by the difficult circumstances of clashing socioeconomic backgrounds–which played especially well in the Reagan-driven 1980s.
Released on February 28th, the movie would serve as the last in the unbesmirchable Molly Ringwald/John Hughes trilogy. And while many like to think Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club is the masterpiece among the three, it is Pretty in Pink that holds the most in terms of depth (though, yes, the theater-like dialogue of The Breakfast Club is a strong contender).
For starters, what could be more real than having Harry Dean Stanton play Andie’s deadbeat dad, Jack? The grimness of Andie having to wake up every morning and bring him breakfast, make sure he tries to find a job and generally take care of all household affairs really enhances the Cinderella nature of the story. Not only does Andie endure the embarrassment of her father’s pathological lying (he didn’t actually go to the temp agency) and alcoholism, but she also holds down a steady job at a record store after school (one blatantly shot in Santa Monica, even though it’s supposed be Hughes’ preferred tableau of Chicago suburbia). Her best friend and devout worshipper, Duckie (Jon Cryer, who has aged a lot better than James Spader or Andrew McCarthy), often stalks her there, when he’s not stalking her elsewhere. Unfortunately for his game, popular “richie” Blane McDonough (McCarthy) also comes to find her at the record store, where she proves her superiority by recommending a Madonna album to him–because “she’s got such great style.”
After a few more of these dalliances, Blane finally summons the courage to ask Andie out, even though his obligatory confidant, Steff (Spader), overtly disapproves, though this is less about her poverty than the fact that she has rebuffed his advances multiple times because she has “some taste.” And so, when Blane makes the mistake of taking her to a party thrown by Steff and his cunty girlfriend, Benny (Kate Vernon)–best remembered for her line, “Where’d you get your clothes, Five and Dime store?”–it’s no surprise that Andie is made to feel inferior. As the night comes to a close, Andie tells Blane, “Just drop me off by the tracks. It’s real close to where I live,” highlighting, once again, their disparate class situations.
In spite of these issues, things seem to go smoothly for awhile, until Blane loses his minimal chutzpah and reneges on his offer to go to the prom with Andie. Unshakeable America’s sweetheart that she is, Andie decides to go alone just to let everyone know, “They didn’t break me.” As New Order plays in the background to Andie sewing her prom dress out of something her dad dug up for her, we see that Andie doesn’t need Blane to bring her confidence, which is the most positive message of empowerment from a Valentine’s Day standpoint. But, of course, it wouldn’t be an ideal 30th anniversary screening on Valentine’s Day without the presence of a happy ending, even for Duckie, who gets with Kristy Swanson as a consolation for his loss of Andie. Indeed, they don’t make romances like this anymore; plus, it doesn’t veer on the creepy side of the rom-com genre, making it all the more worthy of your swooning. Oh yeah, and The Psychedelic Furs. With all these glorious factors at play, don’t miss a rare opportunity to make your “V” Day memorable for once.