I’ve been thinking about this movie for the past couple days now. Here’s why.
Just for starters, Molly Ringwald — not so pretty in that awkward pink dress that does indeed look like a high-schooler made it. She basically killed her friend’s perfectly good dress, which basically killed my enthusiasm for her hobby.
Okay, so now that I’ve gotten the basic title problem covered, let’s talk about this issue of “love.” So…I admire John Hughes for trying to draw the wider metaphor of multiple prejudice-based dilemmas through an exploration of socioeconomic disparities between people who want to be together romantically, but beyond that, this movie wounds my soul. And I’m a big John Hughes fan, so it wounds me to say this.
The reason why can be summed up in one word: Duckie. John Cryer is the darn heart and soul of this movie. He is the character I care most about. He’s the best friend, the buddy, the guy who holds a secret torch for the girl he’s grown up with (and therefore truly knows and adores for all her splendor and idiocy). He rides by her house on his bike every day. (Devotion.) He approaches her father about proposing marriage to her. (Follows tradition and has respect for elders.) Kisses well, apparently — according to the mature lady friend of Andie’s whose taste I trust much more than Andie’s. (Um, need I tell anyone how important that quality is?) He grooms himself and has a unique fashion sense. (Clean and creative — not a typical combination.) He even lip syncs…to Otis Redding. (Passion and taste.)
Now, don’t get me wrong. In high school, it’s impossible to fall for the guy who actually is perfect for you because you haven’t yet grown up and realized there’s little point in chasing someone you have nothing in common with no matter what that person looks like. But really, John Hughes, what are you trying to tell us in this movie? The plot between Andie (Molly Ringwald) and Blaine (Andrew McCarthy — and seriously, what kind of name is Blaine? Really? Really?) is ridiculous. They hang out, like, twice; the first time, I might add, is nothing but drama until the tres awkward kissing that makes it appear that Blaine is terribly hungry and believes Andie’s face to be a burger. (Seriously, go back again and watch it. I’ve even posted the clip.) Rarely have I seen such awkward “chemisty,” if it can even be called that. If this was the point, I guess mission accomplished.
But seriously, you get to the end of the movie, by which time (if you’re anything like me) you’re wondering what the heck these two could talk about if they were actually given a couple more scenes or dates together before the fit hits the shan, and here’s where the real nonsense takes place. Duckie, in all his Prince Charming-esque glory, is waiting at the prom to escort Andie so she doesn’t have to look like any more of a moron than that dress makes her appear. Let’s just pause there. You step all over a guy’s heart, and he’s still there for you, trying to save you, all the while having no ulterior motives (because he knows you’ll never be into him), and doing so without being asked? Sign me up for that deal! John Hughes, you have invented my ideal man.
So why, by the end, must you ruin everything by trying to make us believe that Andie and Blaine are meant to be together and Duckie has moved on? Well, probably because there isn’t much left to the whole “I’m broke but you’re rich, so how can we be together?” storyline if you let Duckie and Andie be together. Still, Duckie showed up to the prom for Andie, not to get with some blonde bimbo. Granted, it makes me feel slightly better not to see him alone by the end, but still… Then there’s the issue of the most disingenuous line in the whole movie, spoken by Blaine to Andie: “I love you…always.” Come on, now! You’ve known her, like, two seconds, but in those two seconds, you’ve managed to ignore your gut and buy into your friends’ propaganda that convinces you to walk away from a person you think has value, not to mention break a girl’s heart because you can’t just be honest about your many fears and insecurities. And Andie thinks this is dreamy? Give me a break! Thanks, John Hughes, for painting such a lovely picture of a teenage female. (Sad thing is, you’re probably not wrong.)
One of my friends I just had to vent to about all this mentioned the “fact” — and I put that in quotes because I think this is arguable — that Andrew McCarthy is hotter than John Cryer, and that’s why Andie ended up with him. While this is clearly what we are supposed to believe, given the set-up, what’s completely unsmart about this is what most of us figure out, sadly, sometime after high school: The hot guy is not your guy. Sure, he’s good to look at. But then what?
Maybe I should reframe things a little. You’re extremely, touched-by-an-angel-level lucky if a hot guy also ends up being a Duckie. But you’re even luckier if you’re one of the few people who thinks your man is drop-dead gorgeous, because in my mind, it means two things: 1) you probably like him for who he is, not what he looks like, and that’s what makes him hot to you (and this is actually what should make him hot to you), or 2) at least there’s less competition, since your taste is apparently night and day from everyone else’s.
Duckie is ultimately the guy most of us (at least the smart ones among us) want, even if we were to blow our chances with him in high school. Now, if only Duckie existed in real life and wasn’t a figment of John Hughes’ imagination…