Better Film: Pretty in Pink vs. Sixteen Candles

Today we bring you an epic Criss Cross Counter Punch as Tania and Mr. Big Dubya debate which was the better film: Pretty in Pink or Sixteen Candles.

* * *

Tania: Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles. Both defining movies of my childhood. Both helped lead me through that bitch called puberty. Both watched eleventy billion times, each, by me. And that's just in the past year.

But though Sixteen Candles may seem to have the obvious edge - humor! Jake Ryan! - I believe Pretty In Pink is, in fact, the superior movie of the two for two reasons - Andie and Duckie. And Steph. Shoot, that's three. Anyway...

Since both movies were Molly Ringwald vehicles, the first is easy to break down. Andie Walsh vs Samantha Baker:

Andie was intelligent. Andie was attractive, but in a quirky way. Andie was strong and opinionated yet respectful and gracious. Andie had a bitchin' car - a Karmann Ghia - and could rock the accessories. Andie could design and make her own clothes while holding a job, maintaining what I can only assume was a 4.0 GPA and taking care of her out-of-work, down-on-his-luck, desperate-for-a-shave father and still found time to date! And that scene where Andie confronts Blane about Prom?
Andie: What about prom, Blane?
Blane: Andie, I'm having a bad day. Can we talk later?
Andie: No. What about prom?
Blane: Why don't we meet after school?
Andie: No! What about prom?
Blane: Andie, come on.
Andie: Just say it.
Blane: What?
Andie: Just say it. I wanna hear you say it.
Blane: Andie, please, all right?
Andie: I wanna hear you say it.
Blane: A month ago, I asked somebody else and I forgot.
[Andie pushes him against a locker]
Andie: You're a liar! You're a filthy, fucking, no-good liar. You don't have the guts to tell me the truth. Just say it!
Blane: I'm not lying.
Andie: Tell me!
[Andie's head pops off revealing a flaming demon head shooting laser beams and breathing toxic venom. Blane starts to cry like a frightened little girl and wets himself. Andie runs off to plan his necessary death.]

So maybe that's not exactly how it happened but it may as well have.

Andie confronted Blane and physically assaulted the d-bag and you still cheered for her. Lesson: don't fuck with a girl and her prom dreams.

Conversely, there's Samantha: whiny, sullen, rode the bus and her biggest dreams were a hot guy, a pink Trans-Am, and bigger boobs. Shoot for the moon, Sam.

Bottom line: a 14-year-old girl (I) could look up to Andie. She (I) could beat Sam up.

As for Duckie, sweet, adorable, self-effacing, Otis-loving, heart-on-his-sleeve, couldn't-catch-a-break Duckie... well, Duckie was Duckie. I could write a 20-page thesis on Duckie but instead I'll say this: Farmer Ted may have been king of the dipshits but Duckie was then, and will always be, a Duckman. The greatest prom date that never was.

The onscreen chemistry between the two was palpable. Did you believe there could have been an Andie And Duckie? Yes you did.

The floor is yours.

Mr. Big Dubya: Sixteen Candles vs. Pretty In Pink. A rivalry for the ages. Think Hatfield and McCoys. Blue vs. Gray. Great Taste and Less Filling. In short it's the rivalry di tutti rivalries. At least among the Hughesians. Hughesites? Hughesophiles? Whatever. It's big, but I think I can sum up the entire argument with one word. A name actually.


In the immortal words of Duckie: His name is Blane? Oh! That's a major appliance, that's not a name!

Truer words have never been spoken. But I think Duckie is being rather kind here in his word choice. I think what Duckie really meant was a synonym for a major appliance. Tool. Because, Blane really is just a tool. A tool who really has nothing good going for him: he dresses like a Miami Vice extra (Glenn Gulia borrowed some of his clothes), he's spineless (I believe it was you who called him a d-bag, was it not Tania? Not a ringing defense.) and he hangs around with a guy named Steff. Holy shit I think this movie is the hallmark for worst character names ever. Doesn't that point alone make me the winner in this argument? No?

Well, Sixteen Candles has Jake Ryan. That's all I'm gonna say about that. Blane vs. Jake Ryan. No contest. If I were a 14-year-old girl, I'd be all about Team Jake. Team Blane is for the emo crowd. You'll find Blane curled up in the fetal position in the backseat of his BMW. Wuss.

You mentioned Farmer Ted vs. Duckie. This is a tough one because I like both characters. But let's be honest, aside from the Otis Redding and self-deprecating humor, isn't Duckie just Farmer Ted in his senior year? Add to that, Farmer Ted is also responsible for some of the greatest Hughes comedy moments next to Ferris Bueller. While Duckie has some great one-liners, Farmer Ted has scenes that have been immortalized in the pantheon of teen comedies. Three words: Molly Ringwald's Panties. Game, set, match.

More? Joan Cusack drinking from a water fountain while wearing a back brace. "No more yanky my wanky." Sam getting felt up by her grandmother. It really is no contest.

From a technical perspective: Sixteen Candles is written AND directed by Hughes himself. Pretty in Pink was directed by Howard Deutsch who actually got the ending he wanted in Pretty in Pink done in Some Kind of Wonderful. So Sixteen Candles gets some extra props for being an entirely Hughes affair. Pretty in Pink loses some points for having its ending changed because test audiences wanted Andie to end up with the appliance.

Back to you, Chicky.

Tania: I'm not going to fight you on the Jake vs. Blane argument - after watching the two movies many, many, many times, at the end of each Jake seems to be the superior leading man. He's better looking, nicer, possesses a spine... all in all a guy you would love to introduce to the grandparents who touch you inappropriately. Jake is every 37-year-old woman's dream for her 16-year-old self.


Blane did not start off the movie as a tool. He was cute in his own just-came-off-of-a-three-week-bender kind of way (lest we forget, Andrew McCarthy was an honest-to-golly-gee sex symbol back in the day), and he did that adorable computer trick that made all the girls go "Awww." He really did seem to dig that girl with her weird clothes from the wrong side of the tracks. You were rooting for Andie and Blane. You wanted their love to smash all socio-economic walls and to bring their divided school together in a Kumbaya, I-want-to-buy-the-world-a-Coke moment.

Listen, Blane wanted to be with Andie but he was conflicted, he couldn't stand up to his overbearing friend Steff (more on him later), he was not mature enough to deal with the pressure of social status, judgmental parental units AND picking out just the right corsage. Oh, the pressure! I'm not defending his d-bag ways, I'm simply pointing out the obvious thought that went into these characters. Sixteen Candles had one-dimensional humor, Pretty in Pink had layers and themes and meaning, dammit!

As for all those who wanted Duckie and Andie together, while it is true Hughes got his geek-gets-girl ending in Some Kind of Wonderful (Sort of. I mean, was Eric Stolz really a geek? I say no but that's a fight for another day.) they did try a version of Pretty in Pink with an ending where Duckie and Andie end up with each other and it just didn't fly. Something about twirling and stomach flu? Anyway, it didn't work for a number of reasons but mainly because Molly Ringwald and Jon Cryer did not have that kind of chemistry. Their characters were better off as friends.

Answer me honestly, did you really think Andie and Duckie made a good couple physically speaking? Could you imagine them getting all hot and heavy in the alley behind Trax? And Duckie got a young Kristy Swanson. He got to keep his best friend and (in my mind, as we really don't know what happened to Duckie after prom) he ended up with a hot girl. He still won. That's what a good John Hughes movie is about - winning. Everyone wins in the end.

But Andie vs. Sam, Duckie vs. Farmer Ted, Jake vs. Blane, and secondary characters aside, Pretty in Pink had its ace in the hole:

James Freaking Spader.

How can you not recognize the glory of Steff? I still try to work "If we're going to shoot we've got to shake it" into everyday conversation. EVERYTHING is better with James Spader in it.

Okay, everything except Mannequin. Everyone involved in that project ought to be dragged into the street and hung from their feathered hair.

Steff was the jerk all other movie jerks could learn a lesson from. Sure he only had, what, ten minutes total in the movie - but what a ten minutes! He told multitudes with the slightest haughty and dangling cigarette. You can keep your brother and sister Cusack, give me Spader any day.

You want quotable one-liners and references to duck genitalia and floppy disks, go with Sixteen Candles. You want a movie with quotable one-liners, believable, well-crafted characters and a story that still holds up, go with Pretty in Pink.

Got a problem, friend?

Mr. Big Dubya: Oh, where to begin, where to begin. Let me just start by saying you'll get no argument out of me with respect to James Spader. Steff is the sleaziest of sleazeballs. It's great to see him use Pretty in Pink as his warm-up for his role as Rip in Less Than Zero. Anyway, there's no question that as far as teen douchebags go, Steff has it over Hardy Jenns, Roy Stalin and Biff Tannen. So, I'll give props to Pretty in Pink for having the king a-hole.


I see you trying to employ the wonderful tactic of damning with faint praise with regard to Blane. He's actually everything guys root against. He's an ass, a coward, and a wuss who needs/wants to be told what to do. LAME! How much thought went into these characters or, for that matter, the story? Part of me thinks that John Hughes (rest his soul) went to central casting looking for a spineless, non-threatening nancy-boy with a bad haircut (check) and a rough-around-edges spunky girl from the other side of the tracks (check check). Add the hang-dog unrequited lover and best friend and the tell-it-like-it-is girlfriend and boom – Pretty in Pink. Layers, themes and meanings? Um, cliché, cliché, cliché. Oh, and for good measure, cliché.

No, I'm not saying I wanted Andie and Duckie to end up together. That wasn't realistic and there is actually a bit of an ewwww! factor. Part of me would rather have had Andie show up at the prom with Jake, have Jake give Blane an atomic wedgie and then punch Steff in the head, but I didn't write this movie. The difference is you root for Andie to come out on top by getting Blane. The Adolescent Dubya roots for Andie to just come out on top, realize Blane's an ass, graduate from high school and open her own boutique. That's a win. That's strong Andie.

Everyone wins at the end of Sixteen Candles by the way. Farmer Ted gets some. That's all. He gets some. And Sam shares birthday cake and a kiss with Jake while The Thompson Twins' "Wish You Were Here" plays. Far more romantic than Andie and Blane sucking face in the parking lot. Might as well have just gone under the bleachers and shared some MD 20/20 while they're at it.

I need to go back to something. Andrew McCarthy was "an honest-to-golly-gee sex symbol back in the day?" Was that in Mannequin? Or Weekend at Bernie's? Maybe Weekend at Bernie's 2? Sorry. That was snarky. I just find him to be more sympathetic in St. Elmo's Fire than in Pretty in Pink. BTW – isn't it a bit odd and maybe a tad creepy that he gets cast as a senior in high school midway through his 20s? Just after playing a college graduate? Yep, central casting it is.

So, other than your Steff volley, I can't seem to get past Pretty in Pink being nothing more than a Cinderella pastiche for Gen X. Other than its soundtrack (which we haven't even delved into), I think Pretty in Pink falls a bit short. But, it could be just a guy thing.

Tania: A few more things:

1) For the record I wanted Andie to come to her senses and walk out of prom on her own, head held high and dignity intact. I actually had this written but deleted it, silly me:

"In my version of Pretty in Pink, Andie runs to Blane in the parking lot, looks deeply into his eyes, and knees him in the nuts".

So yes, power to Andie! But the fact remains that this was a John Hughes movie and there had to be a happy ending, so Blane it was. I don't know, maybe that's my uterus talking.

2) Pretty in Pink is "Cliché, cliché, cliché"? Um, Sixteen Candles is from start to finish one big cliché. There were so many, I don't even know where to begin. But bonus! You get a side of racism!

And 3) Michael Schoeffling (Jake Ryan) was 24 when Sixteen Candles was released. The same age Andrew McCarthy was when Pretty in Pink was released. Your argument is invalid.

Before we send it to the comments, here's something to chew on - Robert Downey Jr. was up for the role of Duckie. Molly Ringwald badly wanted him in that part and was all set to film the other ending of the movie, the alternate one where Duckie and Andie get together. But instead, Jon Cryer got it. Can you imagine how different the movie could have been?

Mr. Big Dubya: Jake might have been 24, but he did not play a college grad mere months earlier in a high profile film about... college grads. Point still stands.

Sixteen Candles may be one big cliché, but it was intended to be a "screwball comedy" with some romance splattered about (see Weird Science). Because sure, the bride-to-be would certainly knock back a drugstore's worth of Valium in a straight up rom-com. Can't say anything about the racism. As has been said before, Sixteen Candles would not get made today.

I'm glad Robert Downey, Jr. didn't get the role or else he might have been doing Hiding Out instead of The Pick-Up Artist and Less Than Zero.

Tania: Are we debating Pretty in Pink vs. Sixteen Candles or the careers of Andrew McCarthy? Thought so.

You've clearly never been a bride-to-be with a raging case of the menses. And, don't forget the Ryszczyks. Would you like me to pass you the Valium now?

Are we still debating or is this just for fun now?

Let's plow.

* * *

So who wins? Have your say in the comments!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...