Picks and Pans Review: Pretty in Pink

updated 03/10/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/10/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

Years from now Molly Ringwald may well be the only survivor of Hollywood's dalliance with the Brat Pack. Unlike her peers Ringwald is uncompromising in front of the camera. She consistently delivers the sort of direct, seemingly spontaneous performances that are the essence of screen acting. With the persistence of an ace detective, Ringwald finds the contrariness in her characters; she can track down the sinner in a saint and the dork in a teenage do-gooder. Unfortunately she gets straitjacketed in her current movie by a script that settles for black-and-white pronouncements instead of the delicate shades of gray that Ringwald employs. She is cast as a high school senior who has her heart destroyed and social status imperiled by a rich, handsome, fickle classmate played by Andrew McCarthy. He's a Romeo with a credit card, and she's a junk-shop Juliet. Beneath the slick MTV veneer of this movie beats the trashy heart of a '37 tearjerker—Stella Dallas at 18. Video director Howard Deutch, who is making his feature debut, even costumes his characters in old-time movie clichés: The rich kids always wear solids, while the poor kids favor mix-and-match combos. Haven't these filmmakers looked in on any homerooms lately? Dressing differently, which brings Ringwald peer-group grief in this movie, makes you a hero in high school these days. Alas, Ringwald's male co-stars treat her equally poorly. As the Brooks Brothers cad, McCarthy peddles one expression—the hangdog pout of a passive patrician; Jon Cryer, Ringwald's comrade in kookiness, who's infatuated with her, pilfers Matthew Broderick's mannerisms—as he did in No Small Affair. With the likable Broderick in the role, the puppy love triangle would have had equal sides and tension. Screenwriter John Hughes, who directed Ringwald to near perfection in The Breakfast Club and 16 Candles, tailored this script to her talents, but that gesture has backfired. Giving a performance streaked with a subtlety and sensitivity absent in the script, Ringwald exposes the facile sentiment of Hughes's vision. At 18, she already faces a professional dilemma that usually plagues only the most seasoned movie star. Shining brightly, she unwittingly shames a movie meant to showcase her. (PG-13)

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