A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Pretty in Pink is a 1986 John Hughes-written movie about an independent misfit teen from a working-class background who falls in love with a rich kid from the popular clique. It's a classic of '80s teen cinema and rightfully so, but there is also frequent profanity from teenagers (including "f--k" and "s--t"), as well as teen drinking and smoking and some bullying. And, like all John Hughes teen movies from that time, adults are either clueless authority figures or too lost in their own despair to be of much help to their kids -- or they're just simply not around. By the same token, John Hughes movies were unafraid to explore themes of fitting in, the shallowness of high school cliquedom, and the broken homes and difficulties faced by the American teenager of the 1980s. Many of these problems persist today; despite the overall dated feel to this movie, it's a great opportunity for parents and teens to talk about how things have changed and how they have remained the same since Pretty in Pink was released.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
For most children of the '80s, writer/director John Hughes' films played a considerable role in forming their opinions about what high school was really like. Of course, anyone in high school at the time would have told you differently, but for tweens at the time, movies such as The Breakfast Club (1984), Sixteen Candles (1985), and PRETTY IN PINK (1986) served as primers for navigating the shark-infested waters of the high school caste system. Pretty in Pink is the third of such films starring Molly Ringwald. In this one, she plays Andie, a smart girl from the wrong side of the tracks who lives with her well-meaning unemployed father and hangs out with her best friend, Duckie (Jon Cryer). When she and a wealthy kid named Blane (Andrew McCarthy) develop a mutual crush, her world is turned upside down, as friends from both sides disapprove of their relationship.
Is it any good?
Although well intentioned, this movie's repeated message of being true to oneself is completely lost during its lame conclusion. (A much different ending was intended for the film, yet after proving itself unpopular with test audiences, Hughes switched it). The script is full of clichés and not a shred of chemistry exists between Ringwald and McCarthy. The film's only redeeming qualities are in the performances of its supporting cast and its totally awesome soundtrack. James Spader is perfect as McCarthy's best friend Steff, the obnoxious self-entitled snob we love to hate. Annie Potts is divine as nostalgia-ridden Iona, Andie's coworker/mother figure, and Cryer's Duckie evokes sympathy, bemusement, and at times intense irritation.
Despite the film's obvious misgivings, Pretty in Pink is highly entertaining and contains some of Hughes' best one-liners. It's hard to judge how this generation will react to an '80s classic such as this one given its dated look and obvious dialogue. Kids will undoubtedly poke fun at Andie's disastrous sense of fashion, in particular her prom dress, which resembles a pink burlap sack. One thing they most certainly will marvel at is a scene where Blane flirts with Andie using a crude form of instant messenger.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how financial status and conformist behavior play roles in determining popularity. Parents may want to share and compare their own high school experiences with their kids to bridge the generation gap. They could use Pretty in Pink to discuss and encourage their kids to recognize the value of their classmates' differences.
How are drinking and smoking conveyed in the movie? Are they glamorized, or are the potential negative consequences shown?
How is bullying conveyed in the movie? Do you think it's a realistic portrayal?
- In theaters: June 14, 1986
- On DVD or streaming: August 20, 2002
- Cast: James Spader, Jon Cryer, Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy
- Director: John Hughes
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: drug use and language
- Last updated: April 4, 2021
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