Pretty… stinks

Bond has Cartier. Hughes had Deezil.

I watched John Hughes’ Pretty In Pink on video the other night. It’s still hugely enjoyable to view, with well-chosen New Order classics on the soundtrack, but it was impossible to ignore some blatant and jarring promotion of an insignificant rocker.

Before getting into that, these thoughts came up:

  • Chris Farley [in Tommy Boy, trailed before the film] was an extremely poor man’s James Belushi, let alone John
  • Molly Ringwald was much more suited to playing a college student in terms of acting ability and her fresh-faced appearance than James Spader
  • It’s a crying shame MR wasn’t seen more on screen after her breakthrough
  • It’s a crying shame MR couldn’t do a Maggie Gyllenhaal – and a Spader – and enjoy showing off her performance range within roles that didn’t involve wearing paisley and putting her lippy on. Still at least David Lynch tried…


  • Jon Cryer only really gets the chance to develop his acting chops in his final scene when ‘he gives away’ Andi at the prom
  • Spader wears a killer white shirt at one point with curious lapels. Throughout the whole film, he’s on a par with the late Tony Wilson for rocking the crumpled, billowing Yohji Yamamoto Eighties look. arts-graphics-2008_1128865aIt’s sartorial heaven pour moi, but you feel for Spader trying to breathe life into a one-dimensional part
  • In his under-stated, typically un-showy and laconic delivery, Harry Dean Stanton has one moment where he shows the true devil inside himself. Just for a split-second. It’s enough to make you temporarily halt your breath and rewind.

The regularly featured greetings from extras off camera are not enough to shake the sense that Andrew McCarthy‘s squinty smile and scrunched-up face made for a below-par heart-throb. His hair alone at the climatic prom scene should have disqualified him… put it best:



  • Annie Potts (Iona, Trax record store manager) was – and still is – fantastic in a minor but uproarious role
  • Hughes is well-known for using Chicago as a setting for films. Imagine if he’d broadened his colour palette and featured a less-than-white character (and then Trax records would have been as acidic as acerbic).

Instead the director decided to give props to Dweezil Zappa. Yeah, Frank’s kid. His albums feature prominently in the Trax scenes and he appears in a challenging and unmemorable role as a nonosyllabic punk at a gig. Never has a largely silent part in a brief scene been as leaden and without merit.

The 007 fanboys are accustomed to expecting high-class luxury product placement; sensitive fans of iconic high-school rom-coms had to make do with a mumbling mono-browed mohican without a hit to his name. Hughes and Zappa are as synonymous and successful as James Bond and Red Stripe.

© Pat Mellow 2018




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