Pretty In Pink

Pretty In Pink


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Written and produced by John Hughes who, with The Breakfast Club, had recently established himself as the king of teen movies, Pretty In Pink is a much darker and more complicated film which was a hit at the time but whose reputation has gradually been tarnished since. With its old familiar themes of love complicated by prejudice, high school angst and the importance of standing up for oneself, it is perhaps too much of a cliché to make an impression on modern audiences - but look beneath the surface and there's a lot more going on.

Molly Ringwald is Andie, a nice girl struggling with a complicated life - attending a school where everybody seems to be rolling in money (a la Ferris Bueller's Day Off), she has hardly any; she's still reeling from her parents' divorce and despairing of a father (Harry Dean Stanton) who seems incapable of pulling himself together.

Copy picture

But Andie isn't entirely without advantages. She has attracted the attention of several boys, including her best friend Duckie (Jon Cryer), who is head over heels in love with her but, being a geek, knows she will never think of him that way. Steff (James Spader, delivering a more complex performance than he has generally managed since, despite the shallowness of his character) just wants to have sex with her, but the shy Blane (Andrew McCarthy) just might be as smitten with her as she is with him. The trouble is, Blane is also rich, and neither of them can move comfortably in the other's social circles. Conflict seems inevitable.

The real trouble is, Blane is character-free. It must have been a difficult balancing act, creating a character who is pushed around for much of the film yet who could still convince as a romantic lead, and it didn't come off. McCarthy may have had the pretty boy looks for that sort of role, but he lacked the charisma. It's thus rather unconvincing that the complicated, stubbornly passionate Andie would fall for him so intensely, and we are left having to ascribe the romance to a sort of teenage hysteria that seems beneath her, thereby undermining her character too. Fortunately, the secondary hero of the piece, Duckie, is always watchable, and his poignant story is what carries the film.

Taking its title from the grim Psychedelic Furs song which became a cult hit without most people, apparently, paying attention to its lyrics, Pretty In Pink is an iconic film which made its mark largely through astute use of music and a real awareness of what was then going on in teenage fashion (something which has been lost thanks to today's emphasis on product placement). Its atmosphere is spot on, making it a nostalgic treat for many viewers today.

It's a shame that it never quite succeeded at a narrative level because Ringwald's forceful turn suggested a talent which never ultimately got the chance to come to fruition, her brief burst of Brat Pack stardom taking her nowhere. She's walking around in that dress that she wore; now she's gone, but the joke's the same.

Reviewed on: 07 Aug 2009
Share this with others on...
Pretty In Pink packshot
An awkward teenage girl from a poor background finds her life getting complicated when she falls for a boy from a rich one.
Amazon link

Director: Howard Deutch

Writer: John Hughes

Starring: Molly Ringwald, Harry Dean Stanton, Jon Cryer, Andrew McCarthy, Annie Potts, James Spader

Year: 1986

Runtime: 96 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


Search database:

Related Articles:

Best friends forever

If you like this, try:

The Breakfast Club