Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Brown picked “Pretty In Pink.”
The Movie: “Pretty in Pink”
Starring: Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer, Harry Dean Stanton
Director: Howard Deutch
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) A poor girl must choose between the affections of dating her childhood sweetheart or a rich but sensitive playboy
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 77 percent
Brown: It’s weird to be back on the keyboard instead of talking to Froemming via Skype.
It’s also weird to be watching a movie that didn’t have Vin Diesel’s potato head taking up real estate on the screen when The Rock is SOOOO much better.
We’ve indulged in a month of “Fast and the Furious” movies but now it’s time to go back to the bread and butter of the JOE-DOWN: the 1980s.
And after a month of fast cars, nameless women’s curves and dragging a (REDACTED) tank through Rio, I figured we needed to get in touch with our feelings.
Who better to do that with than John Hughes? Enter: “Pretty in Pink,” a movie where Molly Ringwald allegedly has to choose between her lifelong friend and a dude who probably sailed on The Flying Wasp in “Caddyshack.” You know, before Rodney Dangerfield destroyed the boat.
We’ve reviewed “The Breakfast Club” on the JOE-DOWN and I’ve seen “Sixteen Candles” before, but prior to this viewing I don’t recall seeing “Pretty in Pink.”
After 90 minutes of Duckie, I kind of wish that was still the case.
Froemming, give us your quick thoughts while I try to wake up a sleepy Harry Dean Stanton.
Froemming: Can we go back to reviewing the movies of silly-putty-come-to-life Vin Diesel?
Yes, it feels good to be back behind the keyboard and not hearing my stupid voice pontificate on the merits of fast cars, Corona and why I love The Rock. And what better way to return than watching “Red Flag: The Movie.”
Seriously, there is so much wrong with this movie. I had never seen it before, I never intended on watching it and because of Brown, everytime I see John Cryer in something I will suspect his character thinks a lifetime of being told “no” simply means “yes.”
Brown, as I wish I was sleeping like Harry Dean rather than talking about this movie, why don’t you kick this off?
Brown: The movie begins with Andie Walsh (Ringwald) getting ready for school by *checking notes* watching her put on pantyhose and zipping up a dress. She’s playing a teenager, by the way…
And while Andie is getting ready, she’s also waking up her unemployed dad, played by Harry Dean (REDACTED) Stanton, while in their modest home in the Chicago suburbs (I’m guessing Shermer, Illinois, if I’m to believe Jay and Silent Bob’s telling from “Dogma”).
Question: Harry Dean Stanton has no job and Andie works part-time at a record store. How are they affording a home in the suburbs?
Froemming: Because nothing made sense in the 1980s, Brown.
Now, Andie’s dad is not only unemployed, but I think he is a drunk too. And I thought she was going to yell this at him to wake him up:
Also, I think Harry Dean demanded in his contract that he was to be in a dirty robe for at least 90 percent of his scenes in this.
Brown: I don’t think he ever left the house. I’m sure he was on set for only one day.
Anywho, when Andie gets to school, we are greeted by perhaps one of the most grating characters we’ve ever had to deal with: Duckie.
And that is saying a lot because there is an ensemble of unlikable people roaming the halls of this school. Duckie is on par with Max from “Fuller House” on the unlikability scale.
Why, you may ask, is Duckie so unbearable? Because he cannot. Take. No. For. An. Answer.
Froemming: I just want to add that he is also in the same league as Mark Watson from “Soul Man,” so you know how terrible Duckie is.
Brown: Duckie is also more unlikable than James Spader in this. And James Spader has made a career out of being an unlikable asshole.
Froemming: James Spader looks like cocaine come to life in this movie. Down to the “Miami Vice” white sports jacket.
Brown: I don’t think there’s a single scene in this movie where Spader’s character has more than four buttons on his shirt that are, well, buttoned.
But back to Duckie… The dude comes in way too hot and clearly has Andie on a pedestal. I’ll admit to having done that in my day and it ends with bad results, dude. But, unlike Duckie, I’ve never been in a situation where, after my crush walks away, I turn to two other classmates and say “Hey, how about I get you two pregnant before the end of the school year?”
Holy (REDACTED), Duckie. You are not allowed to throw shade at Blane later.
Froemming: This movie tries to make Duckie likeable via quirkiness.
It only makes him worse.
I mean, this guy stalks Andie. He is at her work. He leaves 20 messages on her machine wondering where she is. He went straight to the first “N” part of the D.E.N.N.I.S system, you know, terrorizing the woman to Nurture Dependence.
It is very, very creepy.
Brown: He admits to biking by his crush’s house hundreds of times a day! He is a walking restraining order.
My theory: After a lifetime of stalking women makes him resentful of society, Duckie takes up the name Garland Green, becomes a serial killer known as “the Marietta Mangler,” eventually ends up on a prison plane with Nic Cage and sings “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” with a filthy girl in the bottom of a pool at a desert apartment complex.
At the very least, Duckie absolutely will wear Andie’s head as a hat across three states.
Froemming: Andie is going to some rich kid school, where she is mocked for making her own clothes by the popular girls. Andie, you will always be better than those idiots. I never understood why people put clout in the opinions of morons in high school.
Brown: I blame Reaganomics for that.
Froemming: Me too.
We also have James Spader trying to flirt with her or something? After being bludgeoned in the brain with “Fast and Furious” Month, following plots is not easy for me at the moment. I remember him pestering her, while also looking suspiciously like a walking, talking cigarette.
Brown: That’s pretty much it. Andie is trying to leave school and Steff (Spader) is trying to talk Andie into sleeping with him. She refuses and Steff calls Andie a bitch. Steff is basically the originator of the Mystery Method of sleeping with women.
Froemming: I believe this is the origin story of Robert California.
And we soon find out that Andie works in a record store called Trax. And, thank God, the owner is not a toxic piece of shit like Rob in “High Fidelity.” It is owned by Iona, and it took me a long while to realize that was Annie Potts. I was like “she sounds like she should be taking messages for the Ghostbusters” at one point and BOOM, that is when it hit me.
Andie and Iona and their crew hang out at *checks notes* a bar? OK. A bar whose bouncer is *checks notes* Andrew “Dice” Clay? That is problematic.
I mean, at least they won’t let Duckie in there, so I guess it is a safe space for Andie, but why are teenagers at a bar?
Brown: It was the ‘80s, man. It was a decade of excess, absentee parents and laissez faire authority figures. I mean, shit, we see a couple fights in this movie and a scene where Andie and a friend get in trouble for insulting rich classmates and a teacher and no one is punished for this.
Froemming: Welcome to Obama’s America.
Brown: So aside from going to a bar and dealing with a literal stalker, Andie also starts getting pursued by Blane, a beta male from the rich side of town. And that’s a problem?
Considering what’s going on in the world, it was real hard for me to get behind Molly Ringwald’s character in this classism story between poor and rich white kids. This was my brain a lot of the time.
Froemming: Um, I would not give a (REDACTED) about this story in different times. It is a big bowl of stupid to me. This is basically “White People: The Movie.” And minus Harry Dean, I hate just about every character. I liked Iona for a while, then her story became “I will sacrifice who I am to date this rich yuppie” and dear Lord, these are terrible messages to put out there.
Brown: Iona’s story arc was weird; she goes from being Cyndi Lauper-like at the record store to all of a sudden being head-over-heels with a yuppie and dressing like a female Tony Montana. Also, what age is she supposed to be in this movie? The dialogue makes her out to be in her 40s, easily.
Froemming: And she went to prom with a beehive hairdo, so it puts her age at that, but I think Annie Potts was in her late 20s or early 30s when they made this. Maybe she is like the Highlander? Died in battle only to become an immortal and has kick-ass Queen music playing all the time.
Brown: She was 33 when “Pretty in Pink” came out.
Froemming: Look at Mr. Fancy Pants here with his “Google.”
Anyway, Blane also begins his stalking of Andie, but he does it with computers in what should have been a terrifying experience by putting a pixelated photo of his face in a message to Andie.
These were rich kids. In the ‘90s I was playing a black-and-white version of “Oregon Trail” in school. These kids have “NBA Jam” quality graphics on their school computers.
Brown: The early ‘90s, I was all about playing “Oregon Trail” and “Odell Lake” on my school’s Apple II.
Andie is smitten with the cute rich boy and is telling her friends that Blane isn’t like the other rich guys. How the hell would you know, Andie?! You’ve never had an actual conversation with the guy. You don’t have the same classes and don’t run in the same circles. I get that he’s an improvement over Duckie’s constant groveling but he’s proven nothing to you.
Froemming: Plus we learn that Blane is a sociopath later in life, when he spends a weekend at this guy Bernie’s house, pretending a dead corpse is alive and tricking people into thinking that.
Brown: So I just wanna get this out of the way… Steff, he’s attracted to Blane, right? Because any time we see Blane pursuing Andie (BTW, as a writer, I HATE all these names), Steff gets all pouty and mad at his friend. The movie insinuates it’s because Andie turned Steff down and knows he’s an asshole, but the way it comes off on screen seems more like Steff wants to have a relationship with Blane. That would have been an interesting dynamic for an ‘80s movie, though I don’t trust this movie to be nuanced enough to show a homosexual relationship properly.
Froemming: I can see Steff becoming a Log Cabin Republican after the events of this movie.
Anyway, Blane asks Andie out on a date and she agrees, and we get more of this classism stuff that is just toothless as hell.
Brown: Yeah, but the movie beats the classism into you like this.
Froemming: Yeah, it does. This movie (REDACTED) sucks.
So, to avoid having Blane know she lives in a nice house in the suburbs that is somehow poor, she has him pick her up at her record store. And when Duckie finds out about her date, he goes from sociopathic goofball to sociopathic Patrick Bateman shockingly quick.
Brown: After seeing Andie leave with Blane, we see Duckie sitting in the rain looking like he’s about to “Brooks Was Here” himself.
The date… it doesn’t go well. It starts with Blane joking about Andie’s friends living under a rock, so that should be a red flag.
When they arrive at Steff’s house, all the kids are drinking and staring at Andie like she’s a leper. They try to go upstairs, where Steff and a girl named Benny are about to hook up and both endure even more insults.
Andie wants to go home but refuses to let Blane drop her off at home because she lives in… a reasonable home in the suburbs?
It’s maybe the worst first date I’ve seen in a movie. But Blane STILL gets the kiss because he asks Andie to prom.
Froemming: We skipped over Duckie drunk at the bar and making an ass of himself in front of these two. I thought he wasn’t allowed in there? Then, in a rage, he forces himself on Iona to try to make Andie jealous?
Seriously, this movie (REDACTED) sucks.
Can we agree that the most likable person in this movie… no, this town, is Harry Dean Stanton? Yeah, he’s a mope over his wife leaving him to be a single dad and he may be a jobless drunk, but he’s not an asshole.
Froemming: Nope. He lies about having a job so his daughter won’t worry, which is kinda crappy, but he also buys her a bright pink dress later, only to be scolded by Andie for still pining for his ex.
Well, we get a lover’s quarrel between Steff and Blane, because Blane brought a poor to the rich kids’ party. I mean, I am sure this attitude exists and all, but the level of hatred Steff has for the working poor is Fox News-level hatred of them.
Brown: I’ve never smoked pot, but as James Spader is rolling a joint and telling his friend to (REDACTED) off… that’s not very chill, Steff.
Froemming: He’s probably on edge from the mountain of coke he shoved up his nose.
Brown: Speaking of human tragedies, Duckie is moping about Andie pursuing another guy. And while Andie pouts to Blane about her poor house, Duckie looks like he legit lives in a crackhouse, complete with a spray-painted wall, no furnishings and a mattress on the floor instead of a box spring.
I’d feel bad for Duckie’s likely orphan upbringing if he wasn’t such a relenting lunatic through the entire movie.
Froemming: He probably spends all his money on his “tools.”
Brown: Well, after his spat with Steff, Blane ghosts Andie until she finally confronts him at school. He gives the made-up excuse that he asked someone else to prom before he asked Andie, only to (rightfully) be called out. Then she goes off about how Blane isn’t talking because he’s ashamed to be with her thanks to all the rich kids.
… This movie is just not good at addressing classism. Teenagers don’t care a whole lot about classism; they’re just trying to hump.
Froemming: “This movie is just not good.” There, I fixed that for you.
And then Duckie hears Steff and Blane chatting and, for some reason, violently attacks Steff. Because Duckie is a psychopath who lives in squalor, dresses like Elvis and has nothing to lose. A dangerous trifecta.
Brown: Too bad Duckie is pretty much Wimp Lo from “Kung Pow! Enter the Fist.”
Froemming: Andie decides she is going to go to the prom anyway, by herself. And she will make her dress like she makes her own clothes. Gotta appreciate her DIY stance on fashion. She makes it from Iona’s prom dress and the dress Harry Dean bought in a drunken stupor.
Iona sells out to become involved with a yuppie. So many bad and questionable lessons and morals in this movie.
And speaking of bad decisions, Andie arrives at prom and makes amends with her stalker, which will be the worst decision she will ever make and will probably cause years of therapy. Duckie, who lives like he is in Black Flag, somehow can afford this flashy suit.
Is Duckie poor like Andie, or is he just a crazy person, Brown?
Brown: I’ll let Grandpa Simpson answer that question.
While Andie shows up to prom to, in her words, show the rich kids that they didn’t beat her, Blane is all mopey as Steff goes back and forth on calling his date a slut or garbage.
FINALLY realizing that his best friend is a goddamn moron, Blane apologizes to Andie and professes his love for her.
Like Forrest Gump, I may not be a smart man but I know what love is. And this… this is teenagers having a boner for each other. Andie and Blane dated for, what, two weeks? You two aren’t in love; you can’t even be around each other without some existential crisis about their standings in society.
I should also mention that before this interaction happens, Andie and Duckie (sporting a bolo tie for reasons) enter prom holding hands. My notes: Don’t end up with Duckie Don’t end up with Duckie Don’t end up with Duckie Don’t end up with Duckie Don’t end up with Duckie Don’t end up with Duckie Don’t end up with Duckie Don’t end up with Duckie
Froemming: This was what I was thinking:
Andie, because the script demands it, is stuck with something bad and something awful with Blane and Duckie. She goes with Blane, but that really is not a good thing considering he ghosted her because of her standing in society.
I am starting to suspect John Hughes was not as great as people made him out to be in terms of writing.
Brown, let’s hop in our pink cars and drive on down to recommendations.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Brown: Naw. If you want a John Hughes movie, go with “The Breakfast Club.” Or “Sixteen Candles.” Or “Uncle Buck.” Or “Weird Science.” Or “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Or “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” Or “Home Alone.” … Do you get the point, or should I mention half the movies in the ‘80s since John Hughes was involved in everything.
Froemming: Hard pass. This was a terrible movie with a garbage soundtrack and has one of the most problematic characters I have seen, and it wasn’t even Andrew “Dice” Clay, who was in this thing.