John Hughes Movie Art: How To Posters

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By artist Steve Thomas. Here’s Weird Science & The Breakfast Club – you can see these & a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off one at the following link: The Art Of Steve Thomas

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**Check out my post “Working With Numpties: Episode 1” HERE.

This is an awesome blog! Have you ever wanted to have a moan about stupid people?? Get your frustrations out on this blog! Anyone can join in. For more info, go talk to THIS GUY. 🙂

The Great Outdoors (1988) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Smash of Smashing Through Life!. Thanks for being a part of this blogathon, Smash! Now let’s see what she thinks of The Great Outdoors. 🙂

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The Great Outdoors

This is a great movie. Straight up, I can’t put it any simpler than that. This is one of those movies that makes me feel all warm and gooey inside because of the overflowing childhood nostalgia that comes with every viewing. It’s the kind of movie I watched once and then loved it so much that I re-watched it hundreds of times over the course of my childhood. And I’ll probably watch it another couple hundred times in the years to come.

It’s summertime, and that means family vacation for the Ripleys. Chet Ripley is excited to take his wife and their two boys vacationing at a lake resort in Wisconsin for some much needed family bonding. Unfortunately for Chet, his sister-in-law and her obnoxious husband show up at the cottage unexpectedly and totally horn in on his vacation. And they’ve got their creepy twin girls in tow, too. Like all family vacations there are ups and downs, so a whole bunch of petty bickering accompanies all of the ooey gooey sappy family moments to even things out. But in the end, they all have an unforgettable summer together. I’m not going to waste too much time on plot because I’m sure most of you are familiar with this one, so that’s the gist of it.

There are so many memorable scenes in this movie:
– The raccoons raiding the garbage bins chattering to each other about how hotdogs are made up of lips and assholes
– The grizzly bears climbing all over the cars because Chet put out candy bars to attract them
– The water skiing scene, c’mon. It’s John Candy on water skiis. Who can resist that! “You bastard! You bastard!”
– The guy that gets struck by lightening so many times that he’s a stuttering mess
– The epic steak eating challenge at the local bar, old 96’er a 96 ounce steak… and he does it! He’s got the free t-shirt to show for it
– When the bat gets trapped in the cottage and the men have to try and catch it, all bundled up in homemade armour
– When the teenager rubs his pool cue unknowingly between a cute girl’s legs and somehow it leads to a passionate summer romance
– And who could forget, the bald-headed bear who eventually becomes a bald-assed bear

I mean, this is a really freaking memorable movie. Even that great dance sequence that plays to the tune of Wilson Pickett’s Land of a 1000 Dances during the end credits, man I love that shit. Because of that dance sequence, this is probably one of the only movies that I actually watch all the way through the end credits. And I dance along with it too, because I have to. The power of Aykroyd compels me.

John Candy is/was a Canadian National Treasure. I mean, who doesn’t love John Candy to pieces? Assholes, that’s who. And Dan Aykroyd ain’t no slouch either. The guy is a freaking Blues Brother after all (and also Canadian, might I remind you.) It’s a double whammy of comedic awesomeness from two of the best Canucks to ever make their mark on the silver screen.

The characters are all very relatable, the story moves along at that wonderful never-a-dull-moment pace, and the by the end of you almost feel like you’ve been on the vacation too. Overall, The Great Outdoors is a really fun viewing experience and has endless re-watchability. If you haven’t yet seen this movie, then pop it on one rainy hungover afternoon this coming summer. It’ll be the perfect way to spend your day, I promise.

Baby’s Day Out (1994) Guest Review

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This guest review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Anna of Film Grimoire. Thanks for the reviews, Anna! Let’s see what she has to say about Baby’s Day Out. 🙂

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John Hughes Blogathon: Baby’s Day Out (1994)

I chose this film for this amazing John Hughes blogathon because my partner watched this film over and over again as a child and still insists, to this day, that it’s one of the best childhood films ever. I watched it with him, and attempted to see it through the eyes of a child.

Baby’s Day Out (1994) follows the exploits of Baby Bink who is captured and ransomed by three criminal buffoons, one of whom is played by Joe Mantegna (think Fat Tony from The Simpsons). However, Baby Bink is much smarter than the three crims assume and evades capture in various locations that feature in his favourite book. The film is constructed around these various locations and contains a whole bunch of slapstick humour. John Hughes both wrote and produced this film.

In terms of the cast, Lara Flynn Boyle plays Baby Bink’s worried mother with a refined sense of superiority. Cynthia Nixon plays the baby’s nanny (with a bad British accent) who looks after him and spends time with him, often whilst reading his favourite book. Joe Mantegna is great as the leader of the three criminal idiots, and his delivery of lines is sometimes hilarious. Case in point, “That little doo-doo machine is my retirement money”. Imagine that line in Fat Tony’s mafia voice from The Simpsons. Instant hilarity. His acting is good, and is an appropriate level of villainous for kids to both enjoy and feel mildly threatened by.

It’s easy for an adult watching a kids film to say, “This is stupid and predictable”. Initially I felt that way, but then I attempted to see it through the eyes of a child under eight (because I’m assuming this is the intended audience). The dialogue is predictable, but it’s a kids film – it’s not for cynical adults. I think kids would enjoy it a lot. Kids have much more of a robust suspension of disbelief than adults, so I think they would find humour in the crazy exploits that this adventurous baby gets up to. For me, I was constantly worried the baby was going to fall off a building and harm itself. Kids would probably also find the chase sequences thrilling and funny.

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I mentioned slapstick humour – this film has at least four ‘kick in the nuts’ jokes, and one instance of Joe Mantegna’s nads being set on fire for an extended period of time. Kids respond well to slapstick comedy, at least I know I did. There are also lots of poop jokes, which are always hilarious regardless of your age. During these comedic moments, the baby almost acts as the laugh track so the audience can know what’s funny. Whenever something comedic happens, the baby’s cheerful laughter and giggling can be heard.

I have to confess that I fell asleep once during the construction site scene. I almost feel sorry for any mum or dad who took their kids to see this in the cinemas because it must have been very tedious for them. To the baby’s credit, he is very clever and has a knack for survival. In my adult brain, I wanted to discuss the themes of class division and privilege that this film displays. But kids don’t care about that stuff as long as people are getting kicked in the junk. Ultimately, Baby’s Day Out is a funny film for kids, but not so much for adults.

Kid rating: 4/5
Adult rating: 2/5

Watch the trailer here.

National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. Thanks for the reviews, Zoe! Zoe famously hated Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Let’s see what she thought of National Lampoon’s Vacation. 🙂

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“Why aren’t we flying? Because getting there is half the fun. You know that.”
– Clark Griswold

The Griswold family is destined to take a trip, but before it begins it even appears doomed. For one, their new car never arrived, and they had to settle for a Wagon Queen Family Truckster. Instead of the new sleek sportier station wagon, they get a hunk of junk. Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) is angry with her husband Clark (Chevy Chase) for having settled for the car as well as the fact that he insists they do not fly from Chicago to Los Angeles to the amusement park Walley World. He says it will be great bonding time. Their kids, Rusty (Anthony Michael Hall) and Audrey (Dana Barron), are not thrilled with the prospect of driving cross country with the family.

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“Ed, I’m not your average everyday fool. Now I want my blue sports wagon and if you can’t get it I’m gonna take my business elsewhere! Where’s my old car?”
– Clark Griswold

However, it seems as though from the get go that things are just not going to work out for the family on their trip. They are plagued with numerous mishaps and problems pop up. Robbed, vandalised and falling asleep behind the wheel results in the family becoming a little demotivated. Clark is especially starting to feel the need for a good vacation but having Murphy perch on your shoulder. On the road, though, he sees a hot young blonde (Christie Brinkley) who seems to be interested and flirts back, at any rate. Clark flirts with her too, seemingly uncaring about his wife riding alongside him. The trip does not improve when they stop ever in Kansas to visit with Ellen’s cousin Catherine (Miriam Flynn) and her insane brood and mostly useless husband Eddie (Randy Quaid). It seems that Eddie is out of work, Catherine is pregnant again, and pretty soon they force the Griswolds to take Aunt Edna (Imogene Coca) with them to drop at her son’s home in Phoenix. As though this was not bad though, her vicious dog Dinky tags along too.

The trip is truly not improving with the addition of Aunt Edna. If anything, she seems to be aggravating things quite severely. Clark sees the hot Ferrari driver again and hits on her some more and the family’s camping fails dreadfully. Clark eventually ends up killing the ever-violent Dinky when he forgets to put the dog in the car and lets it stay tied to the bumper. Mishap after mishap seems destined to plague the family, and Clark is getting edgier and edgier. He just wants his family time and a lovely vacation, something they all need, and is rapidly getting to the place that he will go to any lengths to get there. Aunt Edna proves to be a handful, and soon a wrong turn leads to the car taking quite the leap of faith and gets excessively damaged. Clark gets hustled for all his money and the trip is really hitting a serious low. It seems that the worst has already come, but more often and not he is proven wrong.

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“Hey Knucklehead, set us up with four Red Eyes will ya?”
– Clark Griswold

Will the Griswolds ever get to Walley World? What will Clark do about the hot Ferrari blonde? How are the kids dealing with the awful vacation that they have been subjected to? How much more of Clark’s lunacy can Ellen deal with before she is sick and tired of him? What is the family to do seeing as they are so low on cash and in a dilapidated and dying car?

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“Oh spare me, Clark, I know your brand of family fun. Tomorrow you’ll probably kill the desk clerk, hold up a McDonald’s, and drive us 1000 miles out of the way to see the world’s largest pile of mud!”
– Ellen Griswold

I will score this a 7/10. There were good things and there were bad things and there were plenty of 80s based things, but overall I didn’t hate this, but will certainly not be rushing to see it again. If Clark was my husband, I would have kicked his ass ages ago for his ridiculous behaviour with the blonde Ferrari girl. Then, point two, stopping by at the family in Kansas was a disastrous idea, that family was just all broken and gross and wrong (yes, me judging). Aunt Edna was a real pain, and had some slight (though at times forced) humour to add to the entire ordeal. There were plenty things that happened along the lines of the vacation that would have had me throw in the towel, and really, they should have just flown. He got hustled in dodgy downtown areas and tagged and all, though he could definitely open a school to teach you how to drive in your sleep! I must say that this movie has not aged the best of all time but it was not so bad that you were put off of watching it, though I must confess it felt longer than it was. This was my first viewing of it and it was pretty decent, truly. There were bits that were quite funny, though I have to say Clark was such a chop. He did, however, carry much of the movie for me. Seeing a young Eugene Levy was also entertaining for me, no matter how short his appearance was. Have I redeemed myself in your eyes somewhat, T9M? 😛

Some Kind Of Wonderful (1987) Review

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Some Kind Of Wonderful (1987) by ME again!

Directed by Howard Deutch

Produced & Written by John Hughes

Starring:
Eric Stoltz
Mary Stuart Masterson
Lea Thompson
Craig Sheffer
John Ashton
Elias Koteas
Molly Hagan
Maddie Corman
Jane Elliot
Candace Cameron Bure
Chynna Phillips
Scott Coffey
Carmine Caridi
Lee Garlington
Pamela Anderson

Running time: 95 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Pretty In Pink. But better in some ways.

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My Opinion:

I’ll keep this review short as I’ve already reviewed Pretty In Pink (review HERE) and, for those who don’t know much about John Hughes films, this is basically a remake of that but with the roles reversed (Eric Stoltz is Molly Ringwald – you can figure out the rest if you watch them as I try to stay spoiler-free for Hughes-newbies). Which one is the better film? Pretty In Pink. Which one do I like more? Probably Some Kind Of Wonderful.

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I think it’s a shame that Some Kind Of Wonderful seems to get forgotten while Pretty In Pink gets all the attention. I won’t go into Pretty In Pink much as I’ve already reviewed it but the things it really has going for it are two very strong characters (Duckie & Iona) and some classic Hughes-style quotable lines. I think the script is stronger and, as I said, it’s a better film overall. However, I really couldn’t relate to any of the characters in Pretty In Pink. In Some Kind Of Wonderful, I found them much more realistic & they felt more like people who actually would have been in my high school. Plus Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) is a great female character. I prefer the tough tomboy thing to Molly Ringwald’s usual girly roles in the Hughes movies. Watts still gets a little “silly” over a boy but, hey – she’s a teenage girl. Her character feels very genuine in the movie plus her friendship with Stoltz is totally believable and I bought into it more than Andie & Duckie’s in Pretty In Pink.

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Eric Stoltz does a decent enough job in the movie & you do find yourself wanting things to work out for him. Lea Thompson is a little… Empty. But so was the character who was her equivalent in Pretty In Pink. Elias Koteas is the “Skinhead” in this and is a very enjoyable character in the way that Iona was great in Pretty In Pink. The “bitches” are less bitchy than in Pretty In Pink but are more believable. Craig Sheffer is, well, a low-budget James Spader – anyone could have played his role. He’s the equivalent of Michael Ironside being the low-budget Jack Nicholson. But the important thing is that the two main characters, Stoltz & Masterson, are very strong and, for me, more likeable and realistic than in Pretty In Pink. Especially Watts.

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Summary:

Sorry for basically just comparing this to Pretty In Pink but it would be impossible not to. If you haven’t seen either film, I’d recommend both if you like slightly-dramatic 80’s teen movies and especially if you like John Hughes as these are both very much “him”. It’s hard to say which one you’ll like more – some prefer one and some prefer the other. If you’ve seen (and like) Pretty In Pink, you MUST watch Some Kind Of Wonderful as well! It’s good. You may even find you end up liking it more than Pretty In Pink. Okay – Yeah, I like it more too. It just wins out over Pretty In Pink thanks to the characters feeling more real. Some Kind Of Wonderful deserves more recognition than it seems to get compared to the other Hughes teen movies.

My Rating: 8/10

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Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from The Dirk Malcolm Alternative. Thanks for joining in on this blogathon! Let’s hear his thoughts on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. 🙂

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FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF (Hughes, US, 1986)

“The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies, dickheads – they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.”
– Grace, the school secretary

I am presently trying to compose a list of the 100 best films that have been produced since STAR WARS (1977). John Hughes is a post-New Hope auteur who created a new strain of Teen Movie for the multiplex generation. Why do I think FERRIS BUELLER… deserves a place on the list above his other films? THE BREAKFAST CLUB is more important as it launched the careers of many of the so-called brat pack. HOME ALONE, that he wrote, was more commercially successful. PLANES TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES is funnier.

But, FERRIS… is wise.

It has a wisdom that transcends the ‘teen flick’ with all of its usual angst: the struggle to get noticed in a world that doesn’t care and the consuming need to find a partner. Its about more than that, its a manifesto for a way of life. Ferris is a righteous dude.

It is a simple story with a flimsy central motivation. Ferris is a well-heeled high-school kid who has a bedroom kitted out with state-of-the-art gear and loving parents who are working hard to meet his every desire. However, he has a significant lacking in his life, he doesn’t have a car, so he needs to ‘bum’ lifts from friends. To satisfy his desire for wheels plots a day off from school to spend it driving in a Ferrari belonging to his friend’s dad. I know. It’s terrible isn’t it? It’s one of those ethical dilemmas that is only matched by De Sica’s Antonio Ricci stealing a bike so he can get work to feed his child. But, of course, Ferris is not really interested in European socialism:

“I’m not European. I don’t plan on being European. So who gives a crap if they’re socialists? They could be fascist anarchists, it still doesn’t change the fact that I don’t own a car.”

Being both European and a socialist, I should find Ferris annoying, with his first world problems and arrogance, but Hughes gets away with it because Matthew Broderick is so charming and charismatic. From the opening moments when he takes the audience into his confidence and he describes how to avoid school, you are willing to come along on the ride. Some of my favourite moments are those where he turns up the charm and pulls off audacious flim-flams. He manages to get his girlfriend out of school thanks to an elaborate hoax, and have dinner at an exclusive restaurant due to his quick wits and confidence trickery.

Broderick is so good that it is possible to overlook the contribution of some of the other characters to its success. Jeffery Jones is great as the Principle driven crazy by his suspicions about Bueller. Jennifer Grey has the ultimate bitchy resting face as Ferris’s sister who is horrified to see the school beguiled into a ‘Save Ferris’ campaign when rumours of his impending kidney transplant take hold. Alan Ruck as Cameron has a troubled expression that’s a great foil to Broderick’s sure-footed bravado and he looks like a piece of coal is actually up his arse, slowly turning to a diamond. He’s never certain that he should go along. He’s got a bad cold, Ferris treats him badly, and it’s HIS dad’s car:

“My father spent three years restoring this car. It is his love, it is his passion.”

“It is his fault he didn’t lock the garage.”

The tension between the free-wheeling Ferris and the up-tight Cameron is the eternal battle between the id and the ego, the libertine verses the prig, tackling the ultimate question of modernity: how is it possible to be free in a society that demands order through the regime of school, work and the sense of duty towards parents. Ferris triumphs because he is willing to step outside of the hurley burley and find pleasure:

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

There’s a timelessness to his message. It’s a middle-aged man speaking through a teenager. Every time I see the film, it makes me feel great, because its about the struggle for independence and the need to be free (at least once in a while). Ferris’ wisdom is the reason it belongs within the post-Star Wars cannon.

The film is made up of episodes that I’ve given the Dirk’s Five treatment, four good and one dud:

Bueller?… Bueller?… Bueller?

1961 Ferrari 250GT California

Has there been a better use of John Williams’ music for STAR WARS? Not even George Lucas can match the moment when the valet-parking attendant launches this ultimate, classic sports car over a bump in sheer exuberance.

The brilliant-red car is a fetish object (can you hear Yello’s ‘Oh Yeah’ without thinking about it?) throughout the movie. There were only 100 made, so you don’t need to be a car lover to cringe every time Cameron takes a blow at the bumper. Its a symbol of his relationship with his father and the source of his anxieties (the registration plate is NRVOUS). When it reverses through the plate window to crash at the bottom of a ditch, its not just its rarity that makes you bite your knuckle, its the realisation that things are never going to be the same again.

“Pucker up buttercup”

“This is George Peterson!” Cameron takes on the role of Sloane Peterson’s dad to get her out of school to join Ferris on his day off. He says that she needs to attend the funeral of her grandmother. Principle Rooney thinks it’s Ferris so lets rip:

Uh, yeah, sure, no I’d be happy to, yeah you, uh, you you just produce a corpse, and uh, I’ll release Sloane. I wanna see this dead grandmother first hand.

The timing of Jeffrey Jones’ reaction when his secretary tells him that Ferris is on line 2 is comic genius. As is his reaction when he sees Sloane apparently smooching with her ‘father’: “So THAT’s how it is in their family.”

Ferris’ Bedroom

I want one of those machines that you put a floppy disc in and it makes sick noises. He has the best graphic equaliser I’ve ever seen in a movie (not sure that its quite optimised for the acoustics of his room). It’s real pleasure to pause the image and study the posters on his wall too.

The contraption he creates is a fore-runner of Kevin’s devices in HOME ALONE, except they don’t actually look physically possible.

Art Institute of Chicago

I love the moment when they move through the museum in a link with the children, it is such innocent fun and joyous. The scene in the gallery offers a moment of calm meditation in the middle of the city. Chicago features heavily in the film with lurid, bright colours captured by cinematographer Tak Fujimoto (best known for his work on BADLANDS(1973))

The Dream Academy’s cover version of The Smiths’ Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want plays over a steady slide-show of Hopper, Kandinsky, Picasso, Giacometti, Pollock and Mattisse. Most notably Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.

Its at this point you realise that there is something to Ferris’ mantra. Stop and look once in a while. This great art could pass you by.

I yell “RAT!”

The Parade

I know that its a much loved scene, but after the time in the gallery I think this is wrong note in the film. The action transforms into the stuff of musicals with Ferris leading the crowd in a rendition of Twist and Shout. It seems oddly out of place and its the only moment that suddenly dates the film.

The parade scene in EASY RIDER (1969) has a similar effect of unbalancing things: they don’t look like they are part of what’s going on.

He should stick to singing in the shower.

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Sixteen Candles (1984) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Laura of Film Nerd Blog. She liked Planes, Trains & Automobiles – Let’s see what she thought of Sixteen Candles. 🙂

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Ah, John Hughes. Acclaimed writer and director of a plethora of modern classic films. You’ve given us so many fabulous films over the years…Home Alone: Uncle Buck: The Great Outdoors: Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club to name a few. But before all of these there was Sixteen Candles.

I’ve only just seen this for the first time – I have no idea how it’s eluded me for so long – especially as I’ve such a soft spot for Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club. Unfortunately, I think the delay has had a profound effect on both my enjoyment and my opinion.

Sixteen Candles opens on teenager Samantha Baker, played by Hughes stalwart and flame-haired 80s legend Molly Ringwald, on the morning of her sixteenth birthday. She’s excited to reach her sweet 16 although she’s a bit disappointed that she hasn’t [ahem] physically matured over night. What the hell though, the ‘rents will be waiting to lavish love and generous gifts on her, right? Wrong. Imagine her chagrin when she realises her whole family has totally forgotten her birthday.

The rest of the film is, on the surface at least, a sweet little coming-of-age comedy, where our petulant heroine finds herself the centre of a love triangle. On one side there’s the resident stud-muffin she has the serious teenage hots for, and on the other is the young nerd who has the hots for her.

Now, perhaps its because I’m watching this for the first time at the ripe old age of 32, but there were some elements of Sixteen Candles that really bothered me. Firstly, Jake Ryan, the aforementioned stud-muffin. He has a girlfriend and yet can’t wait to get together with Samantha behind her back. Ok, so maybe I’m taking it too seriously. This is aimed at teenagers, after all, and they aren’t exactly known for their sensitivity.

The thing that really gets to me is that there are some parts that are just a bit, well, rapey. Jake virtually donates his drunken girlfriend to the young nerd, and gives him the green light to do whatever he likes to her. Now, this just makes me feel icky. And while there’s no denying that Jake is a fine looking young man, he has about as much charisma as my favourite pair of slippers and I can’t help thinking that Samantha would’ve tired of him soon after the credits rolled.

In spite of these complaints, I quite enjoyed Sixteen Candles. I love Hughes’ style; it makes me nostalgic for an era I’m not actually old enough to recall. The casting is integral to the enjoyment of his films, and this one is no different- Ringwald makes for an excellent moody teenager while Hall was born to play the annoying try-too-hard nerd. And the characters, while sometimes crudely drawn and stereotypical, are often endearing and almost always totally engaging.

Sixteen Candles isn’t my favourite Hughes film but I’m glad I’ve finally seen it.

Score: 6/10

Miracle On 34th Street (1994) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Abbi of Where The Wild Things Are. This is her second review after Sixteen Candles. Thanks for the reviews, Abbi! Let’s see what she thinks of Miracle On 34th Street. 🙂

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Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

I have to start off this review by saying it’s fricking weird to watch a Christmas movie in March. It feels completely weird and wrong and probably has somewhat skewed my experience of this remake of the 1940’s classic, which I have unfortunately not seen.

Anyway… Dorey Walker (Elizabeth Perkins) is a very practical woman who works for a big New York department store, which is under threat from some local Poundland type stores that want to take over. What Coles has over the discount stores is its history and its Thanksgiving parade leading up to Christmas… which would of course be a disaster without Santa.

On the day of the parade the Santa Dorey has hired makes a bit of a tit of himself and it’s left to a passer-by who calls himself Kris Kringle (Richard Attenborough) to step in and save the day. He’s so good that Dorey convinces him to take over as Coles’ full time Santa.

In the meantime Dorey is being courted by a handsome lawyer named Bryan Bedford (Dylan McDemott), who gets on fabulously well with her six year old daughter, Susan (Mara Wilson). Dorey is nervous to commit though.

Influenced by her pragmatic mother, precocious Susan doesn’t believe in Santa… although when she meets Kris, she starts to change her mind. Could he really be the man himself?

Mara Wilson is utterly adorable as Susan and it’s hard not to completely fall in love with her. She just seems so utterly natural and unaffected. Attenborough is also thoroughly charming as Kringle but it’s kind of hard to really get attached to the rest of the characters. At the same time I struggled with why Dorey was stalling so hard with Bryan. He seems like the nicest man on earth. Possibly if she had more of a backstory explaining why she was so sceptical of him it might have worked better.

I get the feeling that if I were fully on board with the Christmas spirit I would have been able to let myself just get carried along with the whole thing but on a particularly warm March day it just seemed like a bit of a stale Panetone, which went on and on and on. I think on the heels of Home Alone Hughes decided it was time to become the king of the festive classic but by this stage of his career he had lost his mojo a bit and it’s not a patch on his awesome teen movies, where he really is the king.
2/5

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What do you mean you want a Minion for Christmas?

Home Alone 3 (1997) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Ryan of Ten Stars Or Less. Thanks for the reviews, Ryan! He liked Only The Lonely okay – Let’s see his thoughts on Home Alone 3. 🙂

**WARNING: SPOILERS**

homealone3

run time: 102 mins
rated: PG
considered: Action, Comedy, Crime
starring: Alex D. Linz, Marian Seldes, Olek Krupa, Rya Kihlstedt, Lenny von Dohlen, David Thornton, Kevin Kilner, Haviland Morris, Scarlett Johansson

movie summary: It has been a few years since Kevin McAllister was left home alone, only to prevent two burglars from robbing his house, fast forward about six years and a similar situation develops in another Chicago suburb. Alex Pruitt (Alex D. Linz) is home sick for the next few weeks with the chicken pox. His next door neighbor Mrs. Hess (Marian Seldes) has just returned home from San Francisco and accidentially got her luggage switched at the airport, so she ends up with someone’s bag that has a brand new toy race car in it. She gives it to Alex as payment for shoveling her driveway, but little does she know that four mastermind international criminals are looking for the toy car and are coming to find her.

Petr Beaupre (Olek Krupa), Alice Ribbons (Rya Kihlstedt), Burton Jernigan (Lenny von Dohlen), and Earl Unger (David Thornton) travel from the west coast to the mid-west to find Alex’s neighborhood. They buy a house at the end of the street and begin to scout the neighborhood before breaking into homes during the day to find the bag. Alex’s dad Jack (Kevin Kilner) flies away for a business trip while his mom Karen (Haviland Morris) works from home and runs errands for a few hours each day. On the first day Alex is left alone he spots Beaupre lurking inside a house across the street so he calls the cops. After the cops search the house and find no signs of a break in they get disappointed that Alex called in a false alarm. The very next day Alex spots Beaupre in another house so calls 911 again. His mom gets very upset with him as the police chief explains the severity of Alex’s recent prank calls. Alex is grounded up in his room with his pet mouse Doris who is the only one that believes him.

His mom heads out the next day for work and should only be a couple of hours which gives Alex enough time to set up a video camera on the toy race car. He drives the car into the house where Beaupre breaks into and catches him in the act. Beaupre realizes the toy car is what he is looking for so he radios the three others to chase down the car. Amazingly all four of them stumble their way through the neighborhood yards only to come up empty-handed. Beaupre figures that the car belongs to a kid in one of the few houses he hasn’t searched yet, so the group targets Alex’s house and plan one final break in.

Alex gets up real early and ushers his mom off to work before assuring her that he’s going to be ok all alone for the afternoon. He begins to set up traps all over the house, at every point of entry, and in the back yard swimming pool. Beaupre and the gang ascend on the house and run into trouble at every turn. Within a few minutes everyone has either been electrocuted, knocked out, tarred, feathered, sprayed painted, burnt, or shot. Despite all the trouble just to get into the house they continue until they get inside and can’t find Alex. He is upstairs watching the events unfold on tv before escaping down the in-house elevator. The guys get upstairs into Alex’s room only to see him running away, so decide to jump out the window onto the trampoline that was covering the swimming pool. Alice falls down the elevator shaft while Beaupre manages to get away and head over to Mrs. Hess’ house to kidnap her. Alex finds her and rescues her when Beaupre threatens to kill him if he doesn’t give up the race car. He pulls a gun on Alex who reaches into his backpack and pulls out a gun of his own. During the standoff, sirens can be heard in the distance which leaves little time for Beaupre to get what he came after and for Alex to prove he wasn’t lying about the break-ins.

homealone32

my thoughts: Home Alone 3 is the first movie in the series that didn’t feature McCauley Culkin as the lead character. The franchise had to move on without its star and create a new set of heroes and villains which are disappointing. Instead of two small time house robbers, this home alone kid has to deal with some not so bright international thieves who are looking for a computer chip that can control nuclear weapons.

Alex D. Linz is a funny kid who has big shoes to fill in the lead role and manages to pull it off quiet admirably. He copies some of the tricks used in the first two films but has many gadgets to expand his arsenal to stop the bad guys. The toughest part for all the characters in this story is that audiences have already seen this story played out before and know exactly how it is going to end. In an attempt to keep audience engaged, the computer chip storyline was presented to add some real life drama, even though it is highly unreasonable that some kid will be able to stop highly trained criminals from getting what they want.

This movie sadly lacks the charm from the previous ones but that never stopped my grandmother from absolutely loving this movie. She would watch Home Alone 3 every holiday season and just laugh at how Alex would outsmart these guys again and again. I haven’t watched this movie since she passed away in 2012 and when I saw it was still available for the John Hughes blogathon on Cinema Parrot Disco, I thought it would be fitting to finally watch it again and remember one of the many things that made her laugh.

my star rating: 3 out 10

Final Week For The John Hughes Blogathon… And Beyond!

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Thanks again to all of you who have joined in on this blogathon by writing guest reviews but also those who have stopped by & commented on all the posts. I really appreciate it. 🙂

You can find the links to every John Hughes review HERE.

This will run through the 31st & then things will be back to normal April 1st. I’m hoping all you awesome new followers will still stick around (and that the others who have disappeared will come back! Where are you??? Lol. Come baaaaack!). 😉

I’m waiting for a few more reviews still (not talking to you, Eric & Rob!). If you think you won’t be able to finish them, that’s okay! Just let me know and I may try to review them myself. By the time this finishes, all but the two most obscure John Hughes movies should be reviewed. I may try to track those down later on as I’ll be SO close to having a review for every movie & I’m a bit of a completist. Wow. I never expected such a response!

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I’ll be starting up posting the guest reviews for the IMDB Top 250 Challenge again starting the week of April 7th. These will probably be on Tuesdays & Thursdays to start with while I try to get back to writing my own reviews, which I’ve been very lazy about! I’ll e-mail all of you in April to give you the specific day yours will be posted. I’ve received a lot! Thanks, everyone. 🙂

FYI: If anyone cares, I haven’t exactly stopped watching non-Hughes movies for the past month! I’m itching to post my reviews for the movies I went to:

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (okay – will be seeing it this week. can’t wait!!!)
Non-Stop
The Zero Theorem
Moshi Monsters: The Movie
(yikes)

And some odd ones watched at home:

Bernie
Night Of The Creeps
Red Dawn (2012)
(ugh!)

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And I’m planning another blogathon (on a much smaller scale). I’m taking a looooong break, though – I won’t be doing it until September so I’m not going to exactly ask anyone to volunteer yet! But I’d like to know if anyone would be interested or not. How do people feel about another “Johnathon” & reviewing the movies of John Carpenter? 🙂

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She’s Having A Baby (1988) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Rhetologue’s Movie Logs. Thank you for being a part of this blogathon! Let’s see what he thought of She’s Having A Baby. 🙂

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Love and marriage. It goes together like a horse and carriage but also has Kevin Bacon freaking out in John Hughes much maligned surrealist romantic comedy.

EHarmony. Match.com. OKCupid. What do they all have in common? Well, they’re all websites that have millions scrambling to find ‘the one’. Yet what is it about the actual settling down, past the overly extravagant dates, butterflies and passion filled coitus that has some men freaking out? This is what the late John Hughes explores in his 1988 dramatic comedy She’s Having a Baby. First of all, how hilarious is it that the title completely puts the ball in her court? Even before you get into the story you are completely aware of what starving artist Jake Briggs (Kevin Bacon) thinks about the baby growing inside wife Kristy (Elizabeth McGovern).

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She’s Having a Baby charts the early years of their relationship and is truly told from the perspective of Jake as he contends with settling down, building a home and becoming a father. As much as (some) men like women, Hughes presents the young men in his movie as seeing them as crazy people. Hughes paints Jake’s love interest as a wide eyed, irrational, succubus out to ensnare the innocent young Jake and drain him of his independence and virility. To this degree ‘She’ is nearly inconsequential, yet is Jake’s only real antagonist, as Hughes seems to believe that the target audience (i.e. other men) will understand the basis of his conceit completely. The seed of such a perspective of trepidation is planted by a young and mullet-rocking Alec Baldwin as mirror Davis, a dim witted Lothario still looking for love yet happy to defy its conventions. Baldwin has been playing this character for years and it never gets old, recently making good of the ageing lothario character in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine.
The conflicting perspectives are handled with biting candour in Hughes’ monologues as bile flies from all involved, including Jake’s in-laws eager for him to stop playing artist, get a real job and pump out some grandkids. Kevin Bacon’s big innocent eyes and anxiously fatalistic monologues are the anchors to this passive tale as he wanders through his own life, a supposed victim of an inevitability. Yet Hughes marries Jake’s latent misogyny with his devotion, volatile self-esteem, emotional flexibility and belief in love. This was a very mature role for the Footloose star, yet is testimony to a great career of never being typecast. Few actors can say that they have had such a diverse career and that the range has been of such a high standard. Here Bacon delivers the quiet anxiety that is foundation to his concerns.

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As he looks out from behind Hughes’ iconic frames, character and inspiration collide and we are given insight into the writer’s thoughts and convictions with comedic exaggeration. Hughes does a great job of taking theatrical motifs such as moving sets and clashing alternate realities to visually represent Jake’s anguish. We are used to seeing such an approach in movies and sitcoms like Scrubs but here they are delivered with the rough and poor execution of burgeoning innovation. The same can be said for the story, which barrels together as a mess of great ideas, falling over one another without particular form or grace yet bursting with ingenuity. These motifs assist Hughes in conjuring a dream-like quality to She’s Having a Baby, with situations and conversations culminating in Jake’s worldview or providing him suspended time to make moralistic decisions. This surrealist tone has our hero almost unable to believe anything in his life is really happening. For a film to solely generate the mind-set of its protagonist in this way is quite an achievement and has this movie hold a particular novelty.

As Jake flirts with infidelity and finds solace only when the proverbial crapola nearly hits the fan, this is far from a romantic tale…and that’s awesome. In a world of overly saccharine Rom-coms, leading to predictable conclusions with people characterised as overly successful or simplistic failures, it’s nice to watch a story that surrounds people with some rough edges. Sure, those rough edges are of a successful lawyer and a guy walking ass backwards into a job in advertising but it’s as close to the everyman as you can get. This was always Hughes’ gift (or famed indulgence), to paint what can subjectively be called real people, with writers/directors like Judd Apatow firmly living within his legacy.

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Last Words
“We need the eggs”

It’s not a line from Hughes’ much ignored movie but my Last Words are from the end of Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. “We need the eggs” has always seemed to encapsulate the attempt of such narratives that seek to make sense of the relationship between men and women. Hughes’ movie is a charming mess of ideas, concepts, opinions and realities that culminate without any real conclusions…well, except that it would be better if the woman Jake loves didn’t die. That commentary in of itself just made me laugh as I wrote it and that is the fun thing about this movie, it works under an awkward and unashamedly male bias.

Therefore, there are many reasons why She’s Having a Baby wouldn’t be in a John Hughes box set, joining the likes of The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and Weird Science. Sure, it has Hughes’ cutesy hallmarks, with fun contrived montages and anxious monologues, but at its core is a hell of a lot more bite and fatalism. This presents a stoic world view, even beating out the likes of The Breakfast Club in its attempts to contend with coming of age as a baptismal story of underlying sobriety. It’s not as melodramatic as Hughes’ other stories, there’s no overt emotions or morals, as at its core is a darkly comic conceit.

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Though all those other John Hughes movies are miles better in construction and delivery, She’s Having a Baby is one of his often ignored tales that provides sparks of novel creativity, a rarely presented true-ish male perspective and the cahones to be honest about a man’s fear of what it feels like when a woman is having a baby.

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Dennis (1993) Guest Review

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aka Dennis The Menace

This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Rob of Movie Rob. Yes, Rob again! I’m a terrible host. I’ve only reviewed four Hughes films so far. You’re making me look bad, Rob! 😉 I’ll try to do another four reviews before this finishes. Now let’s see what Rob thought of Dennis. 🙂

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“I brought my own pillow so I won’t get my spit all over yours.” – Dennis

Number of Times Seen – 2 (Early 90’s and 11 Mar 2014)

Brief Synopsis – A six year old boy terrorizes his neighbor Mr. Wilson and his prized flowers. Based on the comic strip of the same name

My Take on it – As a kid, I use to really enjoy the Dennis the Menace comic strip and books. He would really wreak havoc on Mr. Wilson in so many humorous ways that it was always a pleasure to read.

This movie attempts to re-create and re-imagine that fun and it is widely unsuccessful in doing so.

The kid chosen to play Dennis, Mason Gamble doesn’t look enough like the comic character who is a bit chubbier and larger than the young actor and his antics here just aren’t very funny.
Walther Matthau is usually great in everything he does, but he unfortunately doesn’t have much to work with here since all his character does is yell, scream and have unsuspecting follies happen to him by the well-meaning Dennis. He is wasted in the role of Mr. Wilson.

This movie also adds in a criminal passing thru town played by Christopher Lloyd who attempts to cause mischief but is foiled time and again by Dennis’ mischief. I like Lloyd more in his fun roles like in Taxi or Back to the Future (1985) and he seems quite miscast here as the villain.

John Hughes attempts to make this movie and its lead character a younger, more mischievous Kevin McCallister but fails in doing so.

I’ve said this before and I’ll probably say it many more times but Hughes later movies attempted unsuccessfully to “borrow” elements from his earlier successes and suffer because of it. Just because an idea worked in a certain movie, doesn’t mean it can be transplanted into another one and be guaranteed to work.

This is one of those cases where it didn’t…

This is actually a movie I wish I hadn’t seen, because it ruined some of the pleasant memories I had of the character when I was growing up.

Bottom Line – Terrible attempt at re-imagining Dennis the Menace. Waste of time.

Rating – Razzie Worthy

Drillbit Taylor (2008) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from, umm… Rob of Movie Rob? I don’t know who he is. Lol! Just kidding, Rob – Thank you so much for helping to get me SOOO close to having EVERY Hughes film reviewed. I’ll try to find those last two myself & possibly do the two I haven’t received. Then it’ll be EVERY Hughes movie reviewed in one place! Wow! Now let’s see if Rob liked Drillbit Taylor. 🙂

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“Now in addition to the Chinese Kung Fu we’ve got a little Mexican Judo, as in ‘Judon’t know who you messin’ with, homz.'” – Drillbit Taylor

Number of Times Seen – 1 (12 Mar 2014)

Brief Synopsis – 3 freshmen in high school decide to hire a bodyguard to protect them from bullies

My Take on it – I had heard of this one prior to watching it, but didn’t know anything about it.

I actually don’t feel that my life has been enriched in any way by finally seeing it tho.

This movie is at most a mediocre tale of 3 geeks who hire an ex-soldier to be their bodyguard in school. Little do they know that he is really an AWOL homeless vet who tries to use this “gig” as a way to fund his flight from the authorities to Canada.

The star of this movie is Owen Wilson who plays the title character and he acts…well..just like he always does, which doesn’t say much.

The writing here by John Hughes just isn’t anywhere near par for him and it seems that at this point, he really just raised up his arms and gave up trying to make good movies. There are a few humorous lines and scenes, but all in all not great.

This was Hughes’ final movie as a credited Writer since he died a year after this came out. He was probably quite ashamed by this screenplay because he used the pseudonym that he always used when he wrote a bad movie; Edmond Dantes (The main character of The Count of Monte Cristo).

Quite unfortunate since he didn’t have a chance to redeem himself from this one!

Bottom Line – Has some good lines but definitely a far cry from Hughes’ best. This one is mediocre at best. Wilson is his usual self which doesn’t say much for him.

Rating – BAFTA Worthy

John Hughes Movie Song Of The Day: Maid In Manhattan

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Paul Simon – Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard (featured in Maid In Manhattan, 2002)

**I had to add a link to some awesome Stephen King artwork from an art show opening today at Hero Complex Gallery in Los Angeles. Love these! Had a hard time choosing just one to post (the Pennywise one gives me the CREEPS!). See more Stephen King artwork & information on the show here: Laughing Squid

***And I don’t know what this is all about but it looks like a fun site…: The Enigma Machine 🙂

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Salem’s Lot by Zombie Yeti

Pretty In Pink (1986) Review

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Pretty In Pink (1986) by Me! Cinema Parrot Disco finally wrote another review for this blogathon!

Directed by Howard Deutch

Written by John Hughes

Starring:
Molly Ringwald
Harry Dean Stanton
Jon Cryer
Annie Potts
James Spader
Andrew McCarthy
Kate Vernon
Andrew Dice Clay
Kristy Swanson
Alexa Kenin
Dweezil Zappa
Gina Gershon

Plot Synopsis:
Romeo And Juliet. With 80’s Hipsters.

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My Opinion:

You all know I love my John Hughes teen films but I’ve never loved Pretty In Pink QUITE to the same degree as The Breakfast Club or Sixteen Candles (my review for that HERE). I re-watched this a few days ago for the first time in years to see if my opinion would change. It didn’t, really, but I still appreciate two of the best characters that John Hughes created (Jon Cryer’s Duckie & Annie Potts’ Iona). And, as usual, some classic quotable lines that Hughes always did so well.

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I think the main problem is that I never could fully relate to these characters. The main theme here, “rich vs poor”, isn’t something I really experienced in my extremely tiny Midwest American town. The (three!) families in town who had a bit of money still weren’t exactly rich by big city standards. High school popularity was based, mainly, on things like being good at sports. And I suppose sluttiness. So… I really had no chance at popularity either way. 😉

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As for the “original hipster” look of Andie & Duckie’s clothes… Again, I couldn’t relate. I’d like to say I had the balls to dress like that back in high school (well, except for her ugly ass prom dress at the end) but dressing like that in my little farming community would have made me an outcast. Individuality wasn’t considered a good thing! For today’s teenagers, however, I’d want them to watch something like Pretty In Pink & realize that being a “Duckie” really is the way to be. Don’t conform, teeny boppers! Did I just say teeny boppers?? God I’m old…

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Molly Ringwald is okay here, even if I can’t fully relate to her. If I had to choose the Hughes Ringwald character I was most like as a teen, it would be the socially awkward Samantha in Sixteen Candles. But at least in this one she’s possibly the strongest character in that she does stand up a bit to the rich bitches (but still gets too silly over a boy). And she’s not an annoying popular snob like in The Breakfast Club (who can relate to that??). But, as mentioned before, it’s Duckie & Iona who really make this a better film overall. Unfortunately, for me, the biggest thing that doesn’t work in Pretty In Pink is the romance.

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I mean… Andrew McCarthy?? Reaaaaaally? I’ve never understood having a thing for him. Give me Jake Ryan any day! Plus Ringwald & McCarthy just have zero chemistry here. Unlike with Duckie. So… Okay – everyone knows the ending to this but I still feel like I shouldn’t come right out & say it. But I think it’s pretty widely known that most people weren’t happy with the ending. Well, that’s why Hughes went on to make (the Pretty In Pink remake, basically) Some Kind Of Wonderful which I think isn’t quite as good of a film but I still prefer in many ways. I’ll review that next week. As for Pretty In Pink, I do still like it A LOT as it’s typical of the Hughes way of writing that I loved so much but the overall story & the romance just don’t quite speak to me in the way they did in his other teen films. Oh, and great use of things like New Order. As always, John Hughes knew how to choose the right music for his movies!

My Rating: 8/10

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