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Paramount Studios presents
"I have this girlfriend who didn't go to hers, and every once in a while, she gets this really terrible feeling, you know, like something is missing. She checks her purse. She checks her keys. She counts her kids; she goes crazy. And then she realizes that nothing is missing. She decided it was side effects from skipping the prom."
DVD ReviewPretty in Pink is one of those movies that is almost pointless to review. It has its legion of fans—kids who grew up in the 1980s and watched it dozens of times on video—and a reputation as one of the seminal teen films of the decade, For someone watching it now, for the first time, it would probably suffer under the weight of expectation. Of course, the same can be said for all of John Hughes' films of the period—it's doubtful that my children will worship Ferris Bueller in quite the same way I do. Pretty in Pink is still charming, cute, and diverting, but it was made to be watched in 1986 by teens of less than discriminating taste, and it shows.
Molly Ringwald, who also seems pretty ridiculous outside of an '80s context, plays Andie, a mopey high school senior with an out-of-work father and a talent for designing her own (astonishingly pink) wardrobe. She makes doe eyes at sensitive hunk Blane (Andrew McCarthy), but is afraid to date him because he's a "richie." Her lifelong pal Duckie (Jon Cryer) is hopelessly, desperately, pathetically in love with her, but she ignores his advances, crushing his fragile heart at every opportunity (because his name doesn't sound like "a major appliance').
Though it isn't my favorite Hughes film (in fact, Hughes didn't even direct it, passing his script to collaborator Howard Deutch), I've enjoyed Pretty in Pink in the past. But I hadn't seen it in a few years, and once the nostalgia rush had worn off, the flick seems to have lost a bit of its luster. I used to identify strongly with Duckie (as I was always, always pining after a best friend in high school), but now he seems more a pitiful moron than a kindred spirit—Andie makes a big deal of professing her friendship, but she still treats him like dirt. And the ending, which was totally changed after poor reaction from test audiences, feels like a copout, a betrayal of both the Andie and Duckie characters. The original climax (the climax the final scenes are obviously building towards) would've been more satisfying than the out of the blue reversal that's been substituted. So many saw through the change, in fact, that Hughes and Deutch later made Some Kind of Wonderful as an apology to the fans.
There's also the implication, in calling the Hughes' films generation-defining classics, that all teens fit squarely into these predetermined roles. In a way, I suppose, they do—the emotion seems universal, as everyone knows the sting of rejection. Hughes does a good job of capturing the way that, in high school, one spurned advance feels like the end of the world and the prom is as momentous an occasion as the negotiation of a peace treaty. But there were kids back then, I'm sure, who hated the saccharine sentimentality and overblown emotion of movies like Pretty in Pink, who criticized it for its obviousness, its fairytale ending. I guess it just took me a little longer to grow jaded and cynical. Not that that's a good thing.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B
Image Transfer Review: Not too shabby for a movie of this vintage (and a fairly low-budget one at that). Print quality is very good, with few visible flaws, though it looks a bit soft overall. Blacks are solid, though shadow detail is only fair. With all that pink onscreen, you'd expect eye-popping color, but things are pretty subdued (and it's entirely possible that the film always looked this way; I've only seen it on VHS prior to this release), though stable and generally pleasing. Edge enhancement and artifacting are never apparent.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 English remix is pretty standard. Dialogue is clear and anchored in the center channel, with the front mains handling most everything else. There's nice separation and directionality across the front soundstage, adding some flair to the score and minimal sound effects, and the pop-heavy soundtrack is spreads out nicely here as well, leaking a bit into the surrounds, which otherwise stay silent throughout.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Extras Review: The only extras you'll find here are 15 chapter stops and English subtitles. A commentary with Deutch would've been nice (he can't be too busy these days), and I'd love a look at the famous alternate ending (which has, as far as I can tell, never been seen outside of a few early test screenings). Heck, I wouldn't even mind seeing the trailer included. Paramount, I appreciate that you are releasing these '80s gems, but please, put more effort into them or lower the price.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsAll that really must be said about Pretty in Pink is that it is a John Hughes teen movie from the 1980s (and all that that implies). Viewed objectively, it's not the best example of great movie-making—kids today might scoff at the slow pace and corny dialogue. But it has heart and sincerity, qualities present in few teen movies these days. Recommended for children of the '80s, all others need not apply.
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