Saturday, May 3, 2008

Pretty Unconvinced

Pretty in PinkI only recently learned that John Hughes originally intended for Andie to end up with Duckie at the end of Pretty in Pink. In fact, the ending had to be reshot with Andie and Blane together after the test audiences responded very negatively to the Andie/Duckie pairing.

"They wanted her to get the cute guy," Hughes says rather disgustedly during a featurette in the "Everything's Duckie Edition" of the DVD. While he eventually wrote the ending in a way that would satisfy him and all of his "critics," it is clear that he still wishes Duckie got the girl.Molly Ringwald is the one person who feels the way I feel about the situation: Andie and Duckie did not belong together.

(Ringwald admits that when Robert Downey, Jr. was being offered the role of Duckie, the eventual romance made sense. She, as a woman, found him attractive, and he could play the sort of guy for whom Andie would eventually fall.)

Now, don't misunderstand me: Duckie is quite a catch. He's adorable, well dressed, loyal, and thoughtful. But he is also insecure, immature, and obsessive. Andie is a girl who has everyone's eye because there is something special about her; she has the potential to eventually supercede her financial status, to overcome the limitations of her life and truly make something of herself. She is special. And this potential is too big for a relationship with Duckie. They would never be equals. This is not because Duckie isn't smart or because he also doesn't have potential, but because he worships her so humbly, that he could never provide the mental stimulation or emotional challenge that would be required to make an equal and balanced romantic relationship.

Hughes calls the film a fairy tale when discussing his resignation to the fact that Blane would get the girl. It is also a fairy tale to believe that Andie would ever be truly happy with Duckie without wondering, "What if?" In fact, I think only a man could come up with the idea of Duckie and Andy together. (See any Judd Apatow movie. Don't get me wrong; I think most of his protagonists are hot, but only a man could come up with a revisionist romantic comedy in which the goofy, immature guy gets the really hot chick. A woman would say, "I want it all or nothing. I want a guy who's goofy and mature or I want to be alone.")

Some Kind of WonderfulHughes finally got the ending he wanted with Some Kind of Wonderful. Why was this ending more palatable for audiences? Because the genders are switched. The regular girl helps her regular guy friend woo the rich, popular girl, and in the end, the regular guy realizes that he should be with his best friend. Why is even this slightly more palatable to me?

  1. Because the girl knew all along that she wanted the guy and girls know these things before guys do. To paraphrase Ringwald, "If there's no spark, you can't just force a spark at the last minute." There's visible sexual tension between the two protagonists of Some Kind of Wonderful throughout the entire film. In Pretty in Pink, there is no plausible sexual tension between Duckie and Andie, save the attraction Duckie feels for her.
  2. While Keith is rather dull compared to Watts, they are more evenly matched. She pines for him rather pathetically, sure...but when she gets overwhelmed by her pain, her lashing out isn't quite as whiney as Duckey's.

Maybe audiences felt this too? Or maybe not. Some Kind of Wonderful does not resonate as strongly today as Pretty in Pink.


Anonymous said...

I have not seen either film you reference. But, going off your very detailed description: it sounds like to me that your basically saying what John Hughes said that very same year in another script. "She won't respect him, 'cause you can't respect somebody who kisses your ass. It just doesn't work." If this is what you're saying then I think that the ending of PiP was not the only thing that didn't come out like he intended. I propose the possibility that he either never intended to have Duckie be as weak as he became to be, or never intended Andie to be the wonder woman she ended up as.

I could easily see the intention of trying to get across the concept that sometimes women think they are classier, smarter, more important and more deserving than they really are.

This is all wild supposition because I'm working off very little knowledge of these films, but I view it as a possibility.

It sounds like the way the film was made, that Duckie and Andie could never be together. You sound very accurate in that declaration. I will say that you are wrong about another though. Women knowing what they want before men, even as a gigantic generalization, is considerable bulls**t.

As far as your last comment, I cannot begin to agree or disagree, but a film's lasting power never is reliant on one thing. A multitude of factors come into play. I know you know that, but you're making it sound like everything that you've mentioned in the blog decided what has stayed resonant and what has not, and I just know it's not that simple.

Marian said...

I recommend them both.

But I think you're right in that Duckie's character probably changed in a way the director wasn't anticipating.

In regards to women knowing what they want before men know what they want, it would take me a long time to extrapolate and defend my point which I will probably do in a different blog post. But I will note that I was talking about girls and guys and not men and women.

As for my last comment, I was indicating, partially, that I could be very wrong in the assertions I've made about Some Kind of Wonderful. Maybe the love triangle and dynamics didn't work. Maybe audiences really do want the hottest of the hots to end up together. That's not usually the only reason a film doesn't resonate (which was a poor word choice on my part, anyway)...but when the heart of a movie is dependent on these relationships...I would say that getting that right is crucial for the film's resonance.