Greetings! Have you ever wondered if a movie's worth blowing the money on to see at the theater or what to add next to your NetFlix queue? Then you've come to the right place! Enjoy!

"Some Kind of Wonderful" Review

 I really need to stop watching movies from the late-Eighties that I remember as being OK-to-pretty good because they are not turning out remotely as good as I'd remembered. Previously it was Coming to America, and now it's the John Hughes-written, Howard Deutch-directed 1987 revision of their 1986 team-up Pretty in Pink with the correct ending, Some Kind of Wonderful

As King of the Teen Movies, Hughes had an epic run with Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off on his scorecard, but also had Pretty in Pink mixed in, starring his muse Molly Ringwald, but directed by Deutch because Hughes was busy with the other films. For those familiar with the movie, the original ending had Andie (Ringwald) ending up with Duckie (Jon Cryer) at the prom. But test audiences didn't like that she didn't choose the Human Loaf of Wonder Bread Andrew McCarthy, so they changed the ending to the baffling conclusion we got.

 It must've stuck in Hughes' craw, because Some Kind of Wonderful seems to be a dashed-off do-over swapping in Eric Stoltz as the Ringwald's character, Mary Stuart Masterson as Cryer's, Lea Thompson as McCarthy, and Craig Sheffer as James Spader's rich d-bag character and (SPOILER ALERT!) having the protagonist reject the shallow pretty girl (Thompson) for the tomboy (Masterson) who always loved him. Justice is served for the non-conformists! Right? Not really.

Since I've spoiled the ending, here's why Some Kind of Wonderful is all sorts of terrible. For starters, almost every character is a paper-thin two-dimensional cartoon representing a trope, not a human being. Stoltz's Keith is a Sensitive Artistic Type; Masterson's Watts is Tomboy Rebel Outcast who wears mens underwear, drives a right-hand drive beater Mini Cooper (if they remade it today, she'd be transgendered; which way, I don't know); Thompson's Amanda Jones (named so The Rolling Stones tune can be used twice) is the Vapid Pretty Girl; and Sheffer's Hardy is the Rich A-Hole Misogynist who refers to Amanda as "his property." Hughes' script never misses an opportunity to NOT provide and depth or context to this cutouts. The only one who gets character revelation is Elias Koteas' Skinhead (according to the credits, but referred to as Duncan in the movie) who turns out to have artistic leanings under his rough exterior. 

 That all the actors but Masterson were 25-27 years-old, older than college grad students, playing high schoolers adds to the disconnect. Older actors playing younger is common for work rules reasons - Matthew Broderick was 23 and Alan Ruck was 30(!) in Ferris Bueller -  but Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall were 15 in Sixteen Candles and that made a difference in verisimilitude.

 So our ancient cartoons are here for this plot: Keith is a middle-class kid who works in a garage and whose father (John Ashton) is pressuring him to go to college. While Andie was clearly poor, making her own clothes, living with only her drunk father (Harry Dean Stanton), Keith has both parents and two younger sisters. His best friend Watts (whose accent seems to hail from the Brooklyn part of Los Angeles), is taunted by classmates as a lesbian for her short hair and butch manner, but she clearly has the hots for him. He doesn't notice because he's pining for Amanda, a girl from their neighborhood who is dating Hardy, who comes from the high rent district, drives a Corvette convertible, openly flirts and nuzzles other girls in front of her, but she sticks with him because reasons never fully explained. 

One night, while stalking her conveniently being nearby when Hardy gets caught dealing on another girl. Keith gets the opportunity to ask Amanda out and she accepts. Sure, she just did it in the heat of the moment and rapidly worries about losing her position with her mean girl peers, but she decides to stick it out. The rest of the movie is Keith going fully insane prepping for this date, cashing out his college fund to buy diamond earrings for her while his Dad rightfully loses it and Watts fears she's going to lose the love of her life to the princess. (The locker room comparison scene where Amanda poses in skimpy lingerie while Watts wears formless mens underwear prompted me to snark to the missus, "You know, you could just buy some skimpy panties, too.")

The third act date itself is even more maddening as Keith and Amanda and Watts take turns amping up the passive-aggression. There's no getting to know each other or having them explain their feelings; it's more like illustrating that they're not really suited for each other. I kept waiting for someone to make a speech explaining themselves or their feelings and motivations, but nope. It's genuinely bizarre. Oh, Amanda accepts the earrings after berating Keith for painting a portrait of her and hanging it in a public art gallery for their after-hours visit. 

The rushed final scene, where they end up at Hardy's party knowing he and his pals plan to ambush and clobber him, is a rushed cliched mess of macho posturing and the super-convenient arrival of Duncan's gang keeps the peace. (One of Amanda's friends makes googoo eyes at him because rich snobby girls who disown their friends for associating with the poors secretly want some gutter punk action, I suppose.) Outside, Watts storms off; Amanda decides she wants to be a better person and gives Keith the earrings back, and he catches up to her, discovers he loves her and gives her the earrings, leading to one of the worst final lines ever: "You look good wearing my future." Gag me with a spoon!

I can't recall when I last saw SKoW; surely at least once since its release. I own the DVD, but that doesn't mean I've watched it. But throughout watching it on Hulu, I kept wondering how I failed to notice just how bad it was before. Perhaps it was because I wasn't as perceptive about screenwriting and storytelling or just liked it because I was 19 when it came out and Thompson was real purdy and Masterson reminded me of Go-Go's drummer Gina Schock (who was my favorite Go-Go and whom I remained in willful denial of her orientation until 2020 when it was explicitly stated in their documentary). But as a cranky middle-aged man, it's just dumb and needlessly so.

 I've seen PiP more recently (but not within past 10 years as I see no Dirkflix entry for it), so don't want to go out on a limb and say it's clearly better, but I recall it handling the class and cliques details better and that my major beef was the sellout ending. While Hughes meant SKoW to be a gender-swapped remake of PiP, it ditched all the characters and class that made the first movie resonnate. There were plenty of spots where Hughes could've addressed what the characters were feeling, but passed on all of them, leaving a thin gruel of warmed-over teen rom-com emptiness.

 Molly Ringwald was offered the role of Amanda, but refused because she wanted to move on to more adult roles (yeah, that happened) and apparently that broke her friendship with Hughes and they never worked together again. But why should she have? She'd already made this movie before it was reshot, but it was a hit. It would've been weird to make a lesser version just to correct a mistake audiences didn't care about, if box office take is to judge.

Score: 4/10. Skip it.  


Post a Comment

DirkFlix. Copyright 2010-2015 Dirk Omnimedia Inc. All rights reserved.
Free WordPress Themes Presented by EZwpthemes.
Bloggerized by Miss Dothy