Picks and Pans Review: Some Kind of Wonderful

updated 03/09/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/09/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

Critics will just be flapping their lips in vain pointing out that the latest from the John Hughes teen-dream factory (Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off) is a virtual rehash of Pretty in Pink. Once again, Hughes wrote the script, leaving the directing to his slavishly imitative but less nimble protégé, Pink's Howard Deutch. Once again, it's the have-not high schoolers up against the richies. Once again, the tomboy Cinderella falls for the handsome prince. Once again...hey, wait a minute. This time it's not Hughes's teen queen Molly Ringwald playing the tomboy. Molly's off pursuing grownup roles and a career on the New York stage. So in steps Mary Stuart Masterson, Sean Penn's love in At Close Range. And subbing for Andrew McCarthy as the prince is Eric Stoltz, who so movingly played Cher's deformed son in Mask. A hand-me-down cast? Far from it. Masterson and Stoltz possess talent and charm to spare. Here are actors making characters of what could have been cartoons. Stoltz has a Tom Selleck squeak in his voice and a guarded insecurity in his glance that contrast with his male-model looks. And Lea Thompson proves that there is life after Howard the Duck by turning in a nicely modulated performance as a teen siren trying to run with the money crowd, particularly cad Craig (That Was Then...This Is Now) Sheffer. Perhaps it's ungallant to mention that these attractive performers look (and indeed are) a bit past high school age. The exception is Maddie Corman, 17, who nearly steals the show as Stoltz's wisecracking sister. The plot hinge—will Stoltz stop longing for Thompson's "kiss that kills" and start seeing the love in Masterson's eyes?—is as antique as Andy Hardy. But until a flat ending, Hughes and his cast spin comic and romantic variations on an old formula that is thoroughly winning. Some Kind of Wonderful aspires to be little more than the hot-and-happening teen flick of the moment. At that it succeeds. (PG-13)

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