Pretty In Pink

Pretty In Pink (1986)
Paramount Home Video
Cast: Molly Ringwald, James Spader, Harry Dean Stanton
Extras: None

To my generation the frequent collaborations in the 1980s between writer/director John Hughes and actress Molly Ringwald were our cultural touchstones. "Sixteen Candles, " "The Breakfast Club, " and "Pretty in Pink" formed the holy trinity of teen angst films.

For some reason I’ve always found "Pretty in Pink" to be the weakest of the trio. Perhaps the fact that John Hughes handed off the directorial duties to Howard Deutch had some effect but more than that this film just doesn’t click like the previous two. Whereas the earlier films are populated by so many fully fleshed out characters that every viewer can find someone to relate to, "Pretty in Pink" focuses almost exclusively on a love triangle made up of a pretty artistic girl, a rich boy, and the class clown and resident loser in love. Where are the geeks, burnouts, and brains? For me "Pretty in Pink" just doesn’t capture the essence of mid-1980s suburban high school. Still, Paramount’s new DVD offers a nice trip down memory lane just so long as you weren’t hoping for special edition treatment.

Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) lives on the wrong side of the tracks with her heartbroken father, Jack (Harry Dean Stanton). Andie’s artistically inclined mother flew the coop some time ago to chase her dreams sans familial obligations. Her best pal in school is Duckie Dale (John Cryer), a real clown whose undying love for Andie is clear to everyone but her. Instead Andie becomes the object of desire for rich boy Blane McDonough (Andrew McCarthy).

But these cross-class romances never fare well in the movies do they? Blane’s pal Steff (James Spader) makes it his mission in life to deride his friend’s choice in girls and the spineless Blane is only too willing to dump Andie on the very eve of prom to maintain his privileged social status.

How the film resolves these "deep" issues should come as no surprise but the ending that was originally planned tells a much truer tale and it’s a shame that evidence of this alternate ending is nowhere to be found on the disc.

"Pretty in Pink" is presented in 1.78:1 <$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen> and offers up a surprisingly good video transfer. The overall image is a tad soft and grainy but that’s almost a given considering the age and budget of the film. On the plus side colors are accurate and fully saturated, black levels are rock solid, and there are no major blemishes or compression artifacts to be found. All in all this is the best I’ve ever seen the movie look and on that front the DVD is a real keeper for fans.

Audio on this release comes in English <$DD,Dolby Digital> 5.1 and 2.0 mixes as well as a French mono dub. The <$5.1,5.1 channel> track is fairly good but still can’t hide the age of the material. The front soundstage is nice and broad but surrounds are used almost exclusively for the abundant New Wave pop songs that pepper the film. Dynamic range is fairly limited but the soundtrack is always clear and in the end that’s what counts.

As for extras there are zero, none, nada, zip. Not even a stinkin’ trailer. (Note by the Editor: I’m not sure who makes these decisions at Paramount but he’s definitely not an advocate for DVD or the movies the studio releases, which is a shame given today’s climate in the home video industry where DVD is universally seen as a powerful vehicle to drive sales and not some necessary evil. Some people just don’t get it, I suppose.)

If you happened to experience your formative teen years in the mid-1980s then a purchase of "Pretty in Pink" is a no-brainer. For the rest of the population a rental is probably in order as this isn’t the strongest of the John Hughes/Molly Ringwald films by any stretch. Paramount’s new DVD offers up better than expected audio-visual quality but is sadly bereft of any bonus features, which makes it next to impossible to recommend a purchase, especially since it makes the DVD’s $24.99 price point ridiculously overpriced.