I have finally seen the last piece of the Brat Pack puzzle. Artfully dodging it for years, “Pretty in Pink” is in some eyes regarded as one of the finer moments of teen skewed 80’s cinema. A time when names like Ringwald, Nelson, Estevez and McCarthy ruled marquees with an iron fist. The eyes that look back fondly at all of these movies need to see an optometrist. Especially if they’re with fond memories of “Pretty in Pink.” Its more prevalent status, as a frequently forgotten also ran member of the Brat Packer/John Hughes library, is understandable. It’s no more than a run of the mill 80’s high school movie. It’s not as in touch or revealing as “Breakfast Club”, or as amusingly odd as “Weird Science.”
Instantly undercutting any attempt to be taken seriously is the fact that “Pink” takes place in a universe that no one could ever relate to or even exist. Movie high schools are usually as fictitious in nature as any galaxy far, far away, but whatever school this is supposed to represent could only exist in a Twilight Zone episode, or a movie. The entire school is made up of disgustingly, hedonistic Caucasian prepsters who flaunt their parents money, have wild orgies on the weekend and summarily dismiss all those below their social status. There are three poor kids in the whole place, zero minorities, and these three must shoulder the hassle of being shunned by all, as if they’re three whores locked in a convent. The fashion on display also hopelessly dates the film. Only 80’s movies, a decade in which fashion was more horrific than any puss covered alien in Carpenter’s “Thing”, can completely undercut their dramatic undercurrent simply because everyone looks thoroughly stupid. What the people in this movie wear could pass for Halloween costumes now.
As for the plot, Brat Packer queen Molly Ringwald plays the poor girl who has the audacity to fall for eternally mundane Brat Packer king, Andrew McCarthy. She’s poor, he’s rich, his scuzzy friends don’t want him dating lower class, he doesn’t have the backbone to tell them to bugger off, yada yada yada. It’s all very routine. You know where it’s going before it gets there. The movie even forces indie icon Harry Dean Stanton into playing a ‘nice dad’ part. He doesn’t even get to alcohol the part up a bit. It’s quite dispiriting. Jon Cryer almost made a name for himself with his role as Duckie, an unabashed dork with a long standing, unrequited love for the Ringwald. His is the showiest part of the piece. Unfortunately for Cryer the world already had a similar looking sweet boy in Matthew Broderick, so Cryer was cast into second tier teen flicks like “Hiding Out” and “Morgan Stewart’s Coming Home.” Cryer had the last laugh though. Thanks to the long running “Two and a Half Men”, he likely has more wealth now than all the other Brat Packers combined. So I guess Duckie won in the end.
And one last note. “Pretty in Pink” marked the first time stout of heart Andrew McCarthy would face off against the vile James Spader. They would have many more onscreen battles, practically becoming the Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty of the 1980’s.