A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Some Kind of Wonderful is a 1987 teen drama written by John Hughes. This film contains a fair amount of cursing, including "f--k" and "s--t." A tomboy gets referred to as a lesbian in a pejorative manner. There's some mild locker room semi-nudity (girls in camisoles and underwear). There are some teenagers that smoke, with consequences, and some references to drinking, although no characters become drunk. Part of the plot is the threat of one character planning to beat up another, but he's thwarted and no violence occurs. Parents should also be aware that there are some "types" in the movie (like "punk," "rich girl," and "tomboy"), but that the movie goes past clichés to treat them as people. There's very little diversity in the cast: The only black characters are members of the permanent detention-room crowd. And as in other John Hughes teen movies, adults are universally clueless and out-of-touch at best -- or worse, as in the case of the middle-aged male high school teacher taken in by the manipulative seductive touching and flirtation of an attractive female student.
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What's the story?
Keith (Eric Stoltz) and his best friend, Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson), are outsiders at a California high school. They get by with their hobbies -- painting for Keith and drumming for Watts -- and with their friendship. They put up with the daily torments of punks, snobs, and family. Both are looking for something more, though. Watts wants her friendship with Keith to become a romance, but Keith is interested in Amanda (Lea Thompson), a girl who is not rich, but pretty and popular. When Amanda's callow boyfriend jilts her for another girl, Keith asks her out. As the date approaches, Watts' jealousy starts to hurt her friendship with Keith, and Amanda and Keith both start to suspect one another's motives for going out. Is he just a social climber? Is she just getting back at her cheating boyfriend? It soon becomes clear that Amanda's former boyfriend is planning to resort to anything to win her back and send Keith back to the fringes of high school society.
Is it any good?
SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL is typical of the teen movies of the 1980s like Ferris Bueller's Day Off and The Breakfast Club, an effective blend of raw emotion and familiar character types. The familiar-seeming love triangle forces all of the protagonists to rethink what they want from each other and the world and the best ways of reaching these goals. In the end, each has to demonstrate courage and understanding to get what is best for all of them.
Teenagers might find the movie a little silly and outdated in some ways (the clothes and music are very '80s), but the dialogue is very real and funny, and the cast turns in excellent performances, especially Eric Stoltz and Mary Stuart Masterson. Parents will have a chance to relive their high school days and hopefully start some conversations about challenges and triumphs of their own.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what divides people in society, such as money, behavior, or education, and how people work to get past those divisions. Other issues might include how the protagonists develop as people. Who is brave in this film? What kinds of courage are there?
How have teen movies changed over the decades? How is an '80s teen movie like this one different from a '90s teen movie, for instance, or a contemporary teen movie?
How are adults portrayed in this movie? Does it seem accurate and even relevant to today's audiences?