Duckie vs. Blane: A Personal Review of Pretty in Pink

There are some movies that I really ought to have watched years and years ago, but for some reason or another never got around to. I’m a huge John Hughes fan, for example. Breakfast Club, Ferris, Sixteen Candles–I love each one of those, and Pretty in Pink is right in line with those, right? As a child of the 80s, why hadn’t I watched it already? Maybe it’s because it had the word “pink” in the title. I have no clue. In any case, Denisa and I finally sat down to watch it last night, and naturally I thought it was fantastic.

As a writer, Hughes managed to capture so much of what I felt like high school was like. The agony and the ecstasy, so to speak. Pretty in Pink is no different. You’ve got Andie (Molly Ringwald, of course), a girl who’s in deep with the outsiders of her school, although she harbors a secret crush on Blane, one of the rich kids. Meanwhile, her best friend Duckie (Jon Cryer) is madly in love with her, but she just views him as a friend. Drama ensues.

I’m not going to spoil the ending here, even if the movie is almost 30 years old. But it’s clear throughout the film that it’s either going to come down to her realizing Duckie’s the boy for her, or her love with Blane triumphs over the school’s caste system. As the movie went on, I found myself rooting more and more strongly for Duckie, and for obvious reasons.

In high school, I felt like Duckie. Well, maybe my Duckiest moment was more Junior High. I was crazy for a girl. Asked her to the dance, she turned me down. I was heartbroken, but got over it and ended up being best friends with her, even though I was still crazy about her. Better to be friends and close to her than not be anything, right? And I watched as she had other boyfriends who I thought weren’t worthy of her at all. This was a pattern that continued with a number of other girls, even through college. I could be best friends with a girl, and even though there was definite romantic interest on my part, that interest just wasn’t returned.

So how could I not sympathize with Duckie in the movie? But as I was watching it, I wondered something else. How many other people sympathize with Duckie more than Blane? My gut tells me that the number is much higher than I’d initially suspect, and I’ll tell you why. Duckie is an outcast. He’s trying to find himself in high school–figure out who he is and what he wants. Blane’s trying to do that too–but in a trendier, Richie Richier way. And when you get down to it, aren’t most people trying to find themselves in high school? Figure out who they are? Blane never really seems vulnerable in the movie, but Duckie is all emotion. Blane always has his popularity and money to fall back on. Duckie’s got nothing.

Even if you’ve got a safety net of one kind or another, don’t most people associate more with the guy who’s got nothing? Don’t relationships in high school feel very much like you’re in danger the whole time? Or maybe this was just me. Maybe I also really liked Duckie because he reminded me of myself in other ways. If a guy dressed and acted like that today, everyone would just sort of assume he was a closeted homosexual. Molly Ringwald said as much in later interviews. But while I didn’t dress as flamboyantly as Duckie–I wasn’t that daring–I was Duckie at heart, if that makes sense. And I definitely wasn’t gay. It was refreshing to see someone just be different and not have to be gay to be different.

Bah. Maybe I’m reading into the movie too much. Maybe it just struck a stronger chord in me than it would in most people. But now I’m curious. Have you seen the movie? Who did you root for? Duckie or Blane? For me, Blane was just a weak character. He never really stood up for Andie in any real way the same way Duckie did for her. And isn’t that what you want in a relationship?

But then again, what you really need in a relationship is something that goes both ways, and that’s not a thing that can be forced. Speaking from experience, here–you can be over the moon crazy about someone, but if they’re not crazy about you back . . . do you really want that? Do you want the girl (or guy) you had to persuade heavily to be interested in you, or the girl (or guy) who was as instantly crazy about you as you were about her (or him)?

Again, from my experience (and that’s all I’ve got to go on, folks), high school relationships can be rough because you know what you want, but you just can’t find it. I dated a lot of different girls before I found Denisa. I was happy to one extent or another with many of them, but none of them were as happy with me, if that makes sense. I know it sounds cliched, but when you find the one, it all just clicks in ways it doesn’t click with the others.

So Duckie, either way, I’m here to tell you that Andie’s a lost cause. Keep being friends with her, but keep it at that. Find somebody to absolutely adore who absolutely adores you back, romantically speaking.

And those are the thoughts I have for you all this fine Monday morning. Seen the movie? Please share some thoughts back. Haven’t seen it? Check it out. 3.5 stars for me, and it’s on Instant Watch this instant.

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