The film “Pretty in Pink” was written by John Hughes and directed by Howard Deutch. The absence of Hughes in the directorial role is apparent throughout the film as an indefinable element seems to be lacking from the film. The humanity and joy that was evident in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “The Breakfast Club” is stilted in this movie as the audience does not completely empathise with the characters. “Pretty in Pink” is about a girl called Andie Walsh who lives on the wrong side of the tracks and is in love with Blane, a boy from the right side of the tracks. There’s also Duckie, Andie’s best friend who is clearly in love with her but jokes about it to mask his true feelings. And there’s Steff, Blane’s friend whose snobbery acts as a barrier between Andie and Blane. All of these characters exist in this world where the divide between the rich and the poor is physically crossed by walking across the school ground but emotionally it takes a lot longer to breach the divide.
This film was the first of Hughes’ where class tensions were explored. Before this film Hughes characters had existed in this white middle-class American limbo where all the houses were big and white and class tensions were non-existent. In this film Andie’s father is not only unemployed but there is an unspoken implication that he is an alcoholic. These issues of class divides were touched upon in “The Breakfast Club” but “Pretty in Pink” explores and highlights these issues within American society. This film goes beyond the usual stereotype of geek and jock that dominates Hughes’ past films and instead focuses on the unspoken truth that America has a caste system, even in high school.
Duckie, played by Jon Cryer, is one of Hughes’ most original characters. Duckie was the first character to fill the role of the eccentric best friend, a role that is now a staple in any teen movie. His clothes, mannerisms and personality were completely original for the time. Shades of another Hughes’ character, Ferris Bueller, can be seen in Duckie’s character though Duckie seems to be more cynical and bitter than the fun-seeking Bueller.
One of the most controversial aspects of “Pretty in Pink” is the ending. Without giving away the ending let’s just say popularity and attractiveness win out over personality. A little known fact is that the writer, Hughes, was forced to change the ending to make it more audience-friendly as the executives thought that the original ending was not commercial enough. While many fans argue that the ending they chose was wrong it is still considered a classic teen film. Hughes was famous for his ability to accurately depict teenage life and “Pretty in Pink” is an excellent example of his genius.
What do you think about “Pretty in Pink”? Some critics argue that the ending was wrong, if you’ve seen the film, do you agree?