March 3, 2011

Some Kind of Wonderful Review (Howard Deutch)

Keith and Watts finally kiss at the end of Some Kind of Wonderful.

Along with the regular marathon posts, I’ll be writing more articles that usually relate to that week’s film. Sixteen Candles is a John Hughes classic and rests alongside The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off as his landmark films. But he also crafted a few lesser-known gems along the way. One of my favorite Hughes movies is Some Kind of Wonderful, which offers charming heart and grace that’s equal to his best works. It’s not considered with the others for several reasons:
  1. Hughes did not direct this movie.
  2. It’s lacking a signature ‘80s song.
Hughes only wrote the film, but his touches are all over Some Kind of Wonderful. The teenage characters are three-dimensional and don’t just speak with clever one-liners. They talk like real people and share universal goals. Eric Stoltz and Mary Stuart Masterson star as best friends Keith and Watts, who are perfect for each other. But he only has eyes for the knockout Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson), a girl way out of his league.

A shy artist who works at a gas station, Keith can’t compete with fancy jocks like Hardy Jenns (Craig Sheffer) for Amanda. He’s also dealing with his father Cliff, who means well but fails to understand his artistic son. Watts is a tomboy who’s out of place among the cool kids at high school. Like she tells Keith, “The only things I care about in this goddamn life are me and my drums and you.

Hughes writes nearly all the characters with affection, and even Amanda and Cliff have more layers than we expect. The one exception is Hardy, but anyone who’s gone through high school has met this guy. Keith is the stand-in for Hughes, but Watts is the winning character we root for until the wonderful end. Masterson never makes her a ‘80s caricature, and this heart makes this movie worth repeat visits.
“We're gonna bring this party up to a nice respectable level. Don't worry, we're not gonna hurt anyone. We're not even gonna touch 'em. We're just gonna make 'em cry a little, just by lookin' at 'em.” - Duncan
If nothing else, watching Hardy’s terrified expression when skinhead Duncan (Elias Koteas) arrives at his party is worth the running time. Koteas and his merry gang become unlikely pals with Keith and save the day when all seems lost. Some Kind of Wonderful is filled with excellent moments like this one and should move to the top of your must-see list.

4 comments:

  1. We watched it last year, and I was surprised to find out that it wasn't as good as I remembered it being. It was a little boring, a little corny. I still liked it to an extent but I remembered it being better. I've been wanting to watch Pretty in Pink again sometime too, to see how it holds up.

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  2. Dave, thanks for the comment. I agree that it's a bit corny, but I was surprised by how well the movie holds up in terms of my connection to the characters. I've actually never seen Pretty in Pink; that's also on my list to catch up with soon.

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  3. I watched 10 minutes of Pretty in Pink at the gym Sunday and it seemed like it might be good still. Also watched last 10 minutes of the Runaway Jury, which seemed terrible

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  4. Hi Dave. I would like to check out Pretty in Pink, and I know it's on TV all the time. I haven't seen Runaway Jury, but I think it's considered bad even by Grisham movie standards.

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