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The source of angst for almost every teenager in the teen films of the ‘80s was the struggle to be popular. While this pursuit is not confined to ‘80s celluloid high schools or their real life counter parts, in no other decade was the struggle for popularity in high school documented and dissected than in the teen films of the 1980s. Pretty in Pink was not part of John Hughes devised high school trilogy consisting of Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Weird Science. Instead it can be viewed as the first in a set of two films with almost identical plots, the other being Some Kind of Wonderful, that would finish off Hughes cinematic preoccupation with teenage existence.

Pretty in Pink: Everything's Duckie Edition
Feature
The plot of Pretty in Pink is as simplistic as it gets. The setting is the typical ‘John Hughes’ high school where the student body is economically unbalanced, consisting of both ‘richies’ and ‘zoids’. Andie (Molly Ringwald) and her devoted best friend Duckie (Jon Cryer) are firmly placed in the zoid camp. Andie is literally from the wrong side of the tracks, she’s creative and her penchant for pink extends from her car to her handmade clothes. She lives with, and takes care of, her unemployed father Jack (Harry Dean Stanton), who has been stuck in a rut since his wife, and Andie’s mother, left them four years earlier. But Andie is hopelessly devoted to her father, doting on him constantly and encouraging him to pick up the pieces of his life and move on. Although Andie has a less than ideal home situation and is viewed as an undesirable outcast at school, she has three guys vying for her affections. The first of these guys is King 'richie' Steff (James Spader), whom despite his superior status is very into Andie, but will never admit it to anyone. The second guy is Prince 'richie' Blane (Andrew McCarthy) whom Andie adores. And finally there is sweet, devoted, best friend Duckie who lives to like Andie. But she unfortunately cannot recognize his devotion as anything more than friendship.

Having dismissed Steff early on in the piece because she has some taste, Andie must choose between dreamy, popular Blane and sweet, eccentric, adoring Duckie. It’s such a classic love triangle story that Hughes chose to tweak the outcome slightly and make another movie a mere year or so later with the outcome reversed. Both Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful rely on the cliché of teens having to cross a line to be with the person they think they want to be with, and in the case of both films, it’s an economic line. As familiar as the plot may be, Pretty in Pink sets itself apart from other teen romance films with its distinctive look and style, earnest characters and great performances.

Pretty in Pink: Everything's Duckie Edition
Pretty in Pink may not be Hughes finest film, or his most memorable teen dramedy, and it certainly can be stated that those two statements may not be so true if Hughes had been sitting in the director’s chair for what would be his last collaboration with his ‘80s teenage muse Molly Ringwald. Alas, due to his devotion to all aspects of his teen comedy epic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which was in the very early stages of post production around the same time, Hughes hired music video director Howard Deutch to direct Pretty in Pink. However, Deutch would be getting most of his cues and directions on how to proceed with every aspect of the filming from Hughes himself. Production proceeded with this producer and hired gun relationship working successfully for the most part, with the only major argument over the various songs used throughout the film. Deutch wanted a scored soundtrack, Hughes wanted the songs he has personally selected, like The Psychedelic Furs ‘Pretty in Pink’ suggested to him by Molly Ringwald, and ‘Shell Shock’ by New Order. Hughes of course won the argument and Deutch upon reflection realizes Hughes was right. But the biggest disagreement that the pair encountered was over the now infamous final act where Andie makes her choice between Blaine and Duckie.

The circumstances surrounding the two different endings of Pretty in Pink have reached mythical proportions and there is still (even with the release of this DVD), not a conclusive answer as to why the originally scripted ending, which has Andie choosing Duckie, was re-shot and altered to have Andie end up with Blaine.  Over the years since the release of Pretty in Pink there have been many explanations and reasoning for pairing Andie with Blaine, instead of with Duckie, which was how things ended in both the original script and the novelization of the film. One of the ongoing reasons blamed for the switch has been that John Hughes changed his mind about the kind of message pairing Duckie and Andie sent, preferring to champion the idea that love could cross economic boundaries by bringing Andie and Blaine together in a fairy tale ending. Another popular explanation involves test audiences wanting the fairy tale ending of Andie and Blaine together. However, the change has also been attributed to Deutch's dissatisfaction with the original ending and Ringwald’s dislike of the pairing of Andie and Duckie because she believed she had no romantic chemistry with Jon Cryer. The full explanation changes depending on who is telling the story, but it’s most likely that John Hughes relented to the opinions of the test audiences, Ringwald and Deutch. Regardless of the multitude of reasons behind the ending change, fans have continued to debate whether the chosen ending was really the right one.

Pretty in Pink: Everything's Duckie Edition
The debate primarily results because of the overwhelming appeal of Duckie, a character Jon Cryer plays to perfection. This DVD release is the ‘Everything’s Duckie’ edition for good reason. Duckie is one of the most interesting and memorable characters in the entire Hughes teen film canon, and one of the legends of ‘80s teen cinema. It can be said that Pretty in Pink could be remembered solely for the Duckie moments. As appealing as Molly Ringwald is, Jon Cryer manages to completely steal the movie away from her. The theft begins as soon as Duckie appears, walking down the school hallway with an awkward confidence. Duckie’s major appeal is also evident from this moment and it never wavers. Despite being an outcast at school and seemingly not being able to fit in anywhere, Duckie carries on being himself. He is admirable, sweet, quirky, and ultimately becomes the hero of the film by stepping aside and telling Andie to go after Blane, which, despite the debate, is still a perfectly fitting and romantic way to end the film.

Pretty in Pink is the most successful collaboration between John Hughes and Molly Ringwald and it’s the final film in their informal high school trilogy. I say informal because Hughes directed Ringwald in their two other films together, but for this final collaboration he was absent for much of the production. The film does boast the essential elements of a Hughes film, such as a killer soundtrack, distinct visual style, superbly written dialogue and memorable characters. But with Hughes not in the all important role as director, his reliable narrative involving class segregation in high school, usually presented eloquently, appears awkwardly presented in Pretty in Pink. It makes it difficult for Hughes two final teen films to fit neatly next to the likes of Sixteen Candles and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Nevertheless, and as this DVD attests, both Pretty in Pink and the film it proceeds, Some Kind of Wonderful will always be viewed as John Hughes films. Despite Pretty in Pink often being touted as the quintessential John Hughes film, both because of its success at the box office and being the last collaboration between Ringwald and Hughes, the quintessential title really belongs to the The Breakfast Club. Pretty in Pink is instead the quintessential Molly Ringwald film.

Pretty in Pink: Everything's Duckie Edition
Video
The 1.78:1 anamorphic presentation of the film on this special edition is really no different to the transfer on the bare bones edition of the film previously released. The only significant difference between the two editions is the colour on this new edition is much more natural and soft. But this slight difference is only apparent upon close examination of both transfers. Overall, the picture reasonably sharp with only a slight glaze of grain present. Skin tones are realistic, and in fact look much more natural than in the previous edition, with edge enhancement non-existent. It’s a shame that this new edition doesn’t boast a restored print to add to the special nature of the release. However, he transfer is decent enough, with no major issues, which certainly make it more than passable.

Audio
Boasting both Dolby 2.0 Surround and 5.1 tracks, the sound on this new edition is definitely better than on the previous release and actually couldn’t be better. The 5.1 track offers crystal clear dialogue with no audible distortion or sync issues. The stellar soundtrack, the best of all the Hughes teen flicks, features music from New Order, Susan Vega and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, which all sound great on this edition. The music spreads into the surrounds and has never sounded better, with the remainder of the audio confined to the front and centre channels.

Extras
As the packaging trumpets, this edition of Pretty in Pink is totally packed with extras. The only complaints that can be made concern the continued absence of John Hughes, and also the complete absence of James Spader who doesn’t even appear in a vintage interview.

Firstly, there is newly recorded commentary by director Howard Deutch. Inevitably Deutch repeats some of his comments and stories from this commentary in the featurettes, but it doesn’t really matter and he is quite candid and detailed about most aspects of the film, in particular his muses on his relationship with John Hughes. Deutch details their disagreements, in which Hughes usually ended up being right, and also offers an interesting perspective on his dynamics with Jon Cryer and Molly Ringwald. Although silent for more time that one would like when he does speak Deutch has a unique take on his feature film debut and is honest enough and has enough distance from the film to realize the mistakes he made and what he learned during the making of his first feature film.

Pretty in Pink: Everything's Duckie Edition
Essentially, the remainder of the extras, apart from a photo gallery of publicity photos, are all part of one long and detailed retrospective documentary, entitled ‘Back to the Prom’. However, instead of running as one program, the documentary is separated into eight smaller featurettes with no ‘play all’ option available. Meaning that although each featurette is subdivided under the heading ‘Back to the Prom’, you cannot watch the almost ninety-three minute retrospective complete. This is a real shame because the featurettes actually follow a chronological arch beginning with an intro to the production and ending with an epilogue.

‘The First Time: The Making of Pretty in Pink’ is a twelve minute overview of the film with both new and old interviews with the majority of the cast and the director.  As mentioned, James Spader and John Hughes are absent, as is Harry Dean Stanton. But Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer, Andrew McCarthy and Annie Potts are all newly interviewed and offer interesting perspectives on their experiences with Hughes, Deutch and each other. ‘Zoids and Richies’ is an eighteen minute look at the casting process and is actually one of the best featurettes on the disc. The most surprising titbits about the film are revealed in this featurette, such as the studio’s opposition to the casting of Ringwald and McCarthy. Although Hughes wrote Pretty in Pink for Ringwald, the studio wanted a more popular, conventional actress. The same goes for McCarthy as the character of Blane who was intended to be more of a jock, or as Ringwald puts it, ‘a Jake Ryan type’. But it’s the casting of Jon Cryer and James Spader and the discussions about each actor’s portrayal of their respective characters that emerge as the most interesting and hilarious part of this featurette. This makes the fact Spader isn’t interviewed even more of a shame.

Pretty in Pink: Everything's Duckie Edition
‘Prom Queen: All About Molly’ is, as the title suggests, all about the teen queen muse herself. This eighteen minute featurette examines the unique relationship Ringwald had with Hughes, including their now infamous first meeting and their working relationship over the three films they made together. ‘Volcanic Ensembles’ is a welcome focus on the costuming of the characters of Pretty in Pink, with costume designer Marilyn Vance explaining the process of clothing each character. In particular the importance of Duckie’s and Andie’s outfits is discussed as the clothing of these characters contributed greatly to the development of their characters. ‘Prom Stories’ is a short three minute featurette consisting of on-set interviews with the cast reflecting on their own prom experiences. But as Ringwald was filming the movie instead of actually going to her prom, her interview is newly filmed. ‘Favourite scenes’ runs for almost twenty minutes and offers a selection of eight favourite scenes that are discussed in details, with an option to play all the scenes. Obviously, the final scene between Duckie, Andie and Blane is given the most attention, which leads perfectly into the most significant featurette.

‘The Original Ending: The Lost Dance’ should have been the crown jewel extra for this release, instead it’s disappointing. While it was originally advertised that the actual original ending in its entirety would be included on this release, that was later revised and instead there are only short grainy video snippets of the original ending included in a featurette addressing the original ending and the decisions behind re-shooting it. As already mentioned, there are varying explanations for the changing of the ending. In this featurette, it’s the two often cited reasons, bad test audience reaction to the ending and Molly Ringwald’s objection to the pairing of Duckie and Andie that are blamed for the changing of the ending. ‘Wrap Up: The Epilogue’ is a nice sum up to all the other featurettes and even in its short run time of seven minutes manages to nicely pay tribute to the enduring appeal of Pretty in Pink and its director John Hughes. Finally, there is a short photo gallery of publicity stills.

Pretty in Pink: Everything's Duckie Edition
Overall
Almost all Hughes ‘80s teen films have now had some sort of DVD release in most regions. However, only three have received the special edition treatment. These releases of Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful and the earlier release of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off all offered decent commentaries, extras and transfers, but unfortunately none were produced with any input from Hughes himself. Not to mention that two of Hughes most celebrated films, Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club are horrendously overdue for the special edition treatment. Fans can only hope that special editions of these films are on the horizon. In the meantime the devoted fans of the John Hughes teen movie club, of which this reviewer is a proud card carrying member, will have to make do with what is definitely the best release of a Hughes film yet, the 'Everything's Duckie' edition of Pretty in Pink.


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