Our review of Pretty In Pink: Everything's Duckie Edition, published September 12th, 2006, is also available.
John Hughes at his sappiest and most sentimental.
Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald, The Breakfast Club) is a cute high school girl who lives with her heartbroken father, Jack (Harry Dean Stanton, The Green Mile), in a very modest apartment. Her school is filled with all kinds of rich kids, including the snide Steff (James Spader, Supernova) and the quietly likable Blane McDonough (Andrew McCarthy, St. Elmo's Fire). Andie spends much of her time hanging out with her older pal Iona (Annie Potts, Ghostbusters) at her record shop, as well as being lavished over by the incredibly geeky Phil "Ducky" Dale (Jon Cryer, Hot Shots!). After a few cute chance encounters with Blane (including "ahead of its time" instant messaging in the library!), Andie finds herself falling for his charms even though Blane comes from a family with money while Andie's father struggles to make ends meet. Theirs seems to be a teenage love made in heaven…if only peer pressure would get out of the way! Steff, one of Blane's best buddies, starts to put pressure on Blane to break it off with Andie, calling her trailer trash and other not-so-pretty names. Even Andie's supposed best friend Ducky begins to turn on her because of his disdain for those nasty "rich folks." Can Andie and Blane continue their young love affair, or will it go down in flames due to social differences?
Shockingly, this was my first time seeing Pretty In Pink. I say shockingly because I like to think of myself as a connoisseur of all things '80s (how this movie slipped past my radar is beyond me…). I'm sure that I saw bits and pieces of Pretty In Pink when I was a kid, though I have no recollection of such events. Maybe that's why I wasn't very impressed with this John Hughes-scripted effort. After a string of hits, Hughes scooted out of the director's chair, allowing Howard Deutch (Some Kind of Wonderful, Grumpier Old Men) to take the reigns on this mushy, overwrought love story. I'm a sucker for most of Hughes' movies—that being said, Pretty In Pink is easily the emptiest of his teenage romps through Shermer, Illinois. When you stand Pretty In Pink side-by-side with classics like Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Breakfast Club, or Sixteen Candles, there's really no contest. Pretty In Pink lacks much of the biting wit or youthful charm that propelled Hughes' earlier efforts. Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy both give fine performances, though neither of them stand out as particularly memorable. Ringwald plays the same "pining for love" princess we're seen dozens of times before, while McCarthy spends most of the film looking longingly at her. Jon Cryer as the misfit Ducky makes for a funny sidekick, though his doppelganger Anthony Michael Hall always fared better as the nerd-in-waiting in previous Hughes movies. James Spader plays "the rich creep" better than anyone else working in Hollywood, though his character's one-dimensional tone often bogs the film down. With a slow pace, not enough laughs, and paper thin drama, Pretty In Pink just isn't as worthwhile as it could have been. The movie is worth seeing, but not before watching Hughes true "classics" first.
Pretty In Pink is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Paramount has placed some effort into this transfer, though it's still not as sharp as one might hope. While the colors and black levels are all even and solid, overall the image retains a soft haze that reminds the viewer just what decade it was produced in. This isn't a bad transfer, per se—just a very dated one. The soundtrack is presented in a newly remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix in English. Here is a good example of a 5.1 mix that is very jarring and separated—while the funky '80s music comes in clear though all the channels, the dialogue and effects sound very hollow, filtered only though the front and center speakers. The mix works fine, though it's nothing to write home about. The soundtrack is clear of any excessive hiss or distortion, making for a passable if unimpressive listen. Also included on this disc are English subtitles, a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround track in English, and a Dolby 1.0 Mono soundtrack in French. Paramount has really gotten into the bad habit of excluding even a single theatrical trailer on many of their newer releases. On par with this new marketing strategy, Pretty In Pink is void of any and all supplemental materials.
Pretty In Pink is a decent buy for diehard '80s/Hughes fans. Otherwise, this is a definite renter.
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