John Hughes, otherwise known as King of the Eighties movies, has released a significant amount of coming-of-age tales. From “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (still, in my opinion, the best film ever), to “The Breakfast Club”, to many more, Hughes, like all director-writers, has a selection of actors, which he favours. Take Molly Ringwald, who plays Claire Standish in “The Breakfast Club”, is also protagonist Andie Walsh from “Pretty in Pink”. Notably, the part was written with Ringwald in mind- and although she first turned down the role, after Hughes had difficulty finding a replacement, she agreed to take the part. Hughes was overjoyed, and the film was an unprecedented success- likely due to the balance between drama, and light hearted fun.
The story begins with Andie getting ready for school, whilst “Pretty in Pink”, by the Psychedelic Furs, plays in the background. She attempts to wake her father up, finally succeeding, and persuades him to go for a job interview whilst she spends the day in class. The audience are quickly introduced to her best friend Duckie, a boy who clearly has a big crush on her, and they are also reminded of Andie’s social status. Due to her poor background, the rich kids often mock her in her class. That, however, quickly changes when Blain McDonough, a boy from the ‘rich kids’ clique, walks into the record store where she works, who later asks her out. A role reversal of the princess and the pauper story (except, in the eighties, so there are lots more shoulder pads), can Andie and Blain overcome social expectations, and get their happily ever after? That is for you to find out.
Being part of the romantic-comedy genre that the title “Pretty in Pink” suggests, many may believe that the film is exceedingly niche. Due to inherent sexism, “Chick-flicks” are often dismissed as ‘silly’, and therefore typically have no universal audience. However, due to Hughes’ success as a bildungsroman scriptwriter, he had already gained a significant following, who, after religiously seeing the film, recommended it to everyone they know. This explains why, even now, thirty years or so later, the movie still has cultural significance. Most recently, it has been referenced on multiple occasions in at least two episodes of the show “Psych”. It’s also been referenced, and used as the basis for a romantic triangle in the old television show “Dawson’s creek”. The 2001 “Not Another Teen Movie” featured a character based on Duckie, and a ”Two and A Half Men” episode featured the actor who plays Duckie as another role, dressed as Duckie for Halloween! Most relevantly however, is Darren Criss’ character of Blaine Anderson on the hit TV series Glee, who creator Ryan Murphy states was based on the character of Blain from “Pretty in Pink”. These, and many more echoes of the film can be found in modern culture, the continued relevance of the film as an example of its success.
So, although some features of eighties films, such as shoulder pads, are no longer relevant to the youth of today, the underlying themes certainly are. Growing up, struggling to fit in, looking past someone’s outside to find out who they truly are, fighting authority, dealing with school, and being on the cusp of adulthood- these are things which can be found in many of Hughes films. The continued relevance of these themes acts as a reminder; our technology, and culture, may move forward, but human beings, deep down, are all the same.