John Hughes films are a staple of the ‘80s, and a crazy number of the films he wrote have reached iconic status that still hold strong today. Hughes also has a number of movies that may have stood the test of time when it comes to recognition yet fall short in the memorable story department. The latter is where Pretty in Pink falls, as it does deliver the romcom staple of the shy/outcast girl who loves the popular guy, all while her best friend fawns over her but can’t bring himself to tell her how he feels, yet even though it felt like more of a foundation was being laid early on, it never truly builds any real story other than the expected clichés.
Known for pumping out script after script and passing them off to friends to direct if he couldn’t, Hughes passed this one along to Howard Deutch, choosing instead to take on a hands-on producer role for the film. Deutch does a solid job of capturing the right feeling for the movie, but it’s just that the story doesn’t evolve into anything noteworthy, despite the solid acting job by those involved.
Pretty in Pink was written for Molly Ringwald, who plays Andie, a poor girl that’s shunned by the elite half of her high school, which consists mainly of those with money. Andie’s best friend Duckie (Jon Cryer) is also from her side of the tracks, and the two have been friends since childhood. Now unbeknownst to Andie, Duckie is in love with her and is trying to figure out the right way to tell her. A wrench is thrown into their friendship, however, when Andie’s crush, popular rich kid Blane (Andrew McCarthy,) asks her out.
The friendship between Andie and Duckie is one of the better aspects of the film, as the chemistry between Ringwald and Cryer feels real on a friend level. It was crazy to learn that the original ending for the film had Andie and Duckie getting together, as they have absolutely zero chemistry on a romantic level. Apparently Hughes wanted the theme of the film to be that true love conquers all because Duckie has loved her forever so his love is true. Hearing that is just so illogical that I’m surprised it got to the point where they actually had to go back and do a reshoot months later to film the ending as it is today over someone mentioning it while on set.
Well, Ringwald says she did bring it up on set, but it’s not like she had the sway to make them change the film. That only came when studio heads screened the movie and booed the ending. But she was right, clearly, when she said that Andie ending up with Duckie was like her ending up with her brother. You can’t say that true love is true love just because Duckie was infatuated with Andie. Sure he may have really loved her, but the fact that Andie shows zero interest in Duckie on that level at any point, and there’s no desire from the audience to see them end up together are all huge red flags that, again, I’m surprised were ignored so long.
The main issue with Pretty in Pink is that there are places they could’ve gone in the story to help build these characters, but instead they all feel fairly two-dimensional. Like Blane seems like a nice guy who really does like Andie; however, he’s constantly swayed by his smug friend, Steff (James Spader) to realize that he’s better than someone like her. And even if we’re staying on the cliché front, it would’ve been nice to see Blane stand up for Andie earlier on and them maybe he gets hurt by her later and he goes back to his friend to receive his “I told you so,” before ultimately realizing that he wants to fight for her and not listen to the arrogant nature that he’s been brought up in.
Instead everything is just coasted over. Their relationship seems to end faster than it begins, yet in classic high-school romcom fashion they’re both already in love with one another without much actual interaction. Heck, Andie tells her dad she loves him after their first really bad date. Then there’s Duckie who just turns into a dick to Andie when he finds out that Blane is in the picture. This can somewhat be chalked up to him being scorned; however, it comes off far too harsh when it was an obvious one-sided crush and his outbursts leave him unsympathetic to both Andie and more importantly, the audience.
The final act comes together okay, but it would’ve had a lot more impact if the rest of the story built up these three as stronger characters along the way. It’s unfortunate, as Ringwald, Cryer and McCarthy all work well together and it felt like there was a chance for a more substantial story to tell here that could’ve helped this land amongst the upper echelon of Hughes films. Instead Pretty in Pink feels like a paint-by-numbers flick that hits all the expected notes but is completely ordinary instead of anything extraordinary.
This is the first time Pretty in Pink has been released on Blu-ray and for John Hughes completionists or fans of this film on its own, this Blu-ray is the version to own. Paramount nails it yet again with their remastering process, delivering this one off of a 4K scan that shines above previous releases of the film. The picture is often incredibly clear, while still keeping that look of a movie from the ‘80s that fans love.
But everything looks great here, with loads of colours shining through, and the darker night scenes both indoor and out looking clean, crisp and zero cloudy or muddiness to distract from them. The new audio mix given to this release also helps elevate the film and the more popular scenes within it, such as Duckie’s lip syncing “Try A Little Tenderness” at Andie’s workplace in an attempt to woo her.
Filmmaker Focus: Howard Deutch on Pretty in Pink – This is a 7 and a half minute feature that sees Deutch talk about getting the call from Hughes about directing a movie he’d written and why he chose Pretty in Pink out of the two offered. He also talks about the filmmaking process, and also about working with Hughes, Ringwald and Cryer. It’s an interesting watch, especially if you’re a fan of Hughes’s work.
Isolated Score – Pretty self explanatory, and fans of the musical side of the film will enjoy this new addition to this release.
The Lost Dance: Original Ending – This feature is just over 12-minutes long and if you’ve seen the movie, love it or hate it, this is worth watching. It sees Deutch, Ringwald, Cryer and McCarthy all talk about the major change to the ending that took place after an initial screening was greeted with boos at their original decision.
Paramount Pictures Presents Pretty in Pink. Directed by: Howard Deutch. Written by: John Hughes. Starring: Molly Ringwald, John Cryer, Andrew McCarthy, James Spader. Running time: 98 Minutes. Rating: PG. Released on Blu-ray: Sept. 15, 2020.
Tags: Andrew McCarthy, James Spader, John Cryer, John Hughes, Molly Ringwald, Pretty in Pink