Picks and Pans Review: Sixteen Candles

UPDATED 05/14/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/14/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT

For his first feature, screenwriter-turned-director John Hughes, who wrote Mr. Mom, has come up with a promising premise: In the chaos surrounding her older sister's wedding, Molly (Tempest) Ringwald turns 16, and the occasion passes unheralded by her family. In effect, this noisy contemporary comedy is a consolation party—a celebration of adolescent angst. But as the party-giver, Hughes proves to be an absent-minded host. Midway through the movie, he loses track of the guest of honor, gets seduced by secondary characters and allows a sly character comedy to degenerate into yet another beer-and-bashed-cars affair. In the process, Hughes also sabotages the considerable talents of Ringwald. She is an unaffected young actress of enormous spunk and ingenuity. But this part is much too passive for her; because Ringwald is such a self-possessed presence on-screen, her shyness and humility aren't convincing. You know the actress could conjure up a snappy comeback, even if the character cannot. In fact, all that passivity lets Anthony Michael Hall, who plays a geek with an eye for Ringwald, pilfer the film. Of course, Ringwald is suffering from the obligatory crush on the senior-class stud (Michael Schoeffling), and the results are just predictable. As a director, Hughes doesn't show much faith in his screenplay; instead of letting his characters and dialogue stand on their own, he punctuates scenes with redundant musical punch lines, such as the themes from TV's old Peter Gunn and The Twilight Zone. Despite occasional low comedy hijinks that raise a few laughs, Sixteen Candles is more rowdy than rousing. As the lady sings in Dreamgirls, this ain't no party.(PG)

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