Molly Ringwald, Pretty in Pink

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Friday, April 08, 2005

David Denby

“Pretty in Pink, the new Molly Ringwald movie … is as much a star vehicle as Garbo's Queen Christina or Bette Davis's Now, Voyager. A variation on Sixteen Candles, an earlier Hughes-Ringwald collaboration, Pretty in Pink is all about the romance of being an utterly charming teenager. The movie is helplessly in love with Molly Ringwald's freckles and bee-stung lips and long arms and legs and adorable gummy teenager's grin and mop of red hair; it's impressed, even awed, by her integrity and levelheaded kindness. What's remarkable is that his worship of a seventeen-year-old actress seems exactly right. Form her first movie appearance, as John Cassavetes's daughter in Paul Mazursky's Tempest, Molly Ringwald has come across as tart and self-possessed but also generous and more than ready to fall in love with any attractive boy worthy of her. She's a very solid actress, but for the moment her status is almost mythic; she's an ideal of the bright American teenager on the verge of love….

“…. Pretty in Pink is awfully thin--the movie is unimaginable without Molly Ringwald. She plays Andie, a girl from a poor neighborhood and a screwed-up home…. An ace student, [Andie's]… a rescouceful type who makes the best of her situation. There isn't much money around, so she concocts her own outfits in hip, thrift shop-Annie Hall style, out of scraps, high-necked old blouses, vests, and hats….

“Andie's always harping on how poor she is, and at first we think Hughes's point is that her pride is messing her up, that she's making too much of poverty--insisting on her disadvantages so as not to allow herself to be seduced by unrealistic expectations. But then the movie shows she's absolutely right to be so wary. Entering this school is worse than crossing the Berlin Wall at dawn. Rich creeps (blond, always blond) sneer at her; the wealthy girls… carry on like Cinderella's older sisters throwing the wash down on the floor. But does this hostility make any sense? By high-school standards, Andie may be a bit of a nonconformist, but she isn't abrasive or eccentric or dauntingly intellectual. She's supposed to be rather nice, and you would think that her talent for making cool-looking clothes would win her a few fans….

“Still,… Hughes has a special talent for reproducing the way kids feel about their own lives. Something like Pretty in Pink may be just a trifle--a minor romantic comedy about boys and clothes and a prom date--but after seeing it, no adult could say to a distraught daughter, "What's the difference? It's only the prom." At the time, it's practically a trauma. Even sane, strong-willed Andie, the salt of the earth and sweet as sugar, can't shrug it off. Molly Ringwald makes every minute count emotionally. I'm not sure if that all-American face will work so well when she becomes a woman, but she's a phenomenal teenage actress. She gives the material a ripe romantic glow.”

David Denby
New York, March 10, 1986

“Laura Dern, who brings a sense of danger and fear to acting, is a more sexual performer than Molly Ringwald, the other great teen actress of today. In Pretty in Pink, Ringwald is an ideal of a terrifically self-possessed teenager in love, while Dern offers us an opening to adolescent miseries of confusion and lust and anguish….”

Denby, New York, April 7, 1986
(review of Smooth Talk)

Molly Ringwald

“All that holds Pretty in Pink together is Molly Ringwals' charismatic normality. When the picture was shot, she hadn't yet turned eighteen, but she looks completely free of self-consciousness or affectation. The poise with which she plunks herself in front of the camera is uncanny. And this redhead goddess of the ordinary carries the movie, though she has nothing particularly arresting to do or to say. . . . Hughes hasn't bothered to provide the new Ringwald heroine--her name is Andie--with the teen-agers' slang that gave Sixteen Candles its wigginess and its snap….

“…. [Pretty in Pink is] the essence of dreamy safeness--a romantic movie for kids that their parents can approve of. Parents can dream their anxieties away when they see Molly Ringwald enshrined here as a star: the teen-age ideal. The rich kids may get drunk and hot and loose, but Andie is the opposite of trashy. She's proudly conventional….”

Pauline Kael
New Yorker, April 7, 1986
[notes indicate some may be left out]

David Ansen

“… Pretty in Pink… could plausibly be described as a Marxist "Romeo and Juliet" in which the warring clans are the haves and have-nots of a Midwestern high school. Fortunately for Hughes and director Howard Deutch, Juliet is played by the fetching 18-year-old Molly Ringwald, an actress capable of revealing adolescent angst with amazing grace…. "Pretty in Pink" is a gentle and well-meaning sketch of teen peer pressures, but its dopey, feel-good ending leaves you suspecting that what you've really been watching is Much Ado About Nothing.”

David Ansen
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