The third and final chapter in the John Hughes/Molly Ringwald trilogy takes the premise of “Sixteen Candles” and raises the stakes a bit. What if the geek that was in love with her happened to be her best friend, and what if her fairy tale boyfriend’s rich friends didn’t appreciate their mature and understanding relationship?
Molly Ringwald is Andie, but she’s been taken down a rung from her usual well-to-do characters. Dad is Harry Dean Stanton, and as you can probably guess he’s unemployed and his wife has left him. He is, as one can expect in a Hughes’ film, well-meaning if useless. Just so you know we’re dealing with class, there is a history room discussion of Roosevelt’s New Deal, socialism, and the pros and cons of making your own clothes. Andie works in a hip record store with Annie Potts, so it’s little wonder that the film’s music holds up better than the usual Hughes’ project.
Everyone in Andie’s town is either rich as a Getty or down on their luck, which seems pretty unlikely until you’ve spent some time in Shaker Heights, Ohio. The wealthy kids have money to burn on clothes, while the other half bravely use their imagination to keep up. The sartorially splendid Jon Cryer takes the Anthony Michæl Hall role as the geek who’s sun rises and sets with Ringwald. If you can, try to picture Cosmo Kramer’s slightly less confident illegitimate son. In between calling Andie every three minutes he sweet talks Harry Dean, and yearns for a world where his kind is better respected. He gets to lip synch to Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness,” but it doesn’t really hold a candle to Mathew Broderick’s euphoric version of “Twist and Shout” in Hughes’ “Ferris Beuller’s Day Off”.
Andrew McCarthy, king of the sensitive teens, is Blane. “Blane? His name is Blane? That’s not a name. That’s a major appliance!” Blaine is the kind of guy who feels comfortable wearing white pants and isn’t afraid to show off his Senior picture. He asks Ringwald to the prom and all hell breaks lose. James Spader, straight from trying to be James Dean in “Tough Turf,” gets to begin filling out his resume with sleazy, peer pressuring, disapproving rich guy scum. He makes it clear to Blane that his intermingling is seriously endangering his social standing, and like Kruschev, Blane blinks.
The questions at hand. Will Blane grow a spine? Will Duckie finally be rewarded for his years of service and good will, or will Andie forgive the rich kid and have a dreamy prom? The story I heard was that Ringwald got to choose her own ending, which so appalled John Hughes that he switched around the genders and remade the whole movie with Eric Stolz and Mary Stuart Masterson in the following year’s “Some Kind of Wonderful”. Although it’s entirely possible he just figured there was more money left on the table in those pre-“Home Alone” hard times. Nevertheless, I got my first date because of this movie so you won’t see me giving it any less than three stars.