“There was a point around junior high when my Mom tried to make a regular thing of us going to the dollar movie theater. For whatever reason, it was a rather short lived plan, but I still remember most of what we saw together. When we got home from “”She’s All That””, my Daddy asked her how it was. “”It was fine. It was about prom”” she said, sounding very unimpressed and possibly even a bit annoyed. You could practically hear the eye roll in her voice. While part of me was mad at myself for apparently choosing an unfavorable movie (even before I was the film afficionado I am now, this was a concern), but I was also a bit confused and even upset. How could she dismiss something so big as prom that way? Doesn’t she understand?!
Well fast foward nearly 20 years, and I totally get it now, as I had pretty much the same reaction starting Pretty in Pink (and similar with Say Anything a couple weeks back). Given what my high school experience was, I find it really hard to sympathize with characters whose lives revolved around it. There’s just so much more and so much better that happens after, that I have trouble caring about an event that’s so inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.
But that’s not really what I wanna talk about. What’s been churning through my mind is the ending. I assume I’m safe spilling a 30 year old spoiler, but if not, just skip the rest of this post. I won’t hold it against you. Starting a new paragraph for spoiler space.
Okay so for most of the movie, Molly Ringwald’s Andie is pining for rich pretty boy Blane (Andrew mcCarthy), while constantly playfull rebuffing the eccentric Duckie (Jon Cryer), her best friend that’s also madly in love with her. However, the ending that you see on the movie today, where Andie gets Blane, isn’t the original ending. As originally written, Andie was supposed to end up with Duckie. Legend has it that the first test audiences booed the ending so badly that the filmmakers were forced to do reshoots to change the ending. Ringwald has also claimed that because she had zero romantic chemistry with Cryer, the original would have never worked.
My initial reaction is WTF, team Duckie all the way! We’ll put personal preference aside (still team Duckie!), and try to look at this from a character perspective. To me, Andie picking Blane shows that she’s a more shallow and superficial character than I feel the movie would want us to believe. It’s the choice that mainstream conformity choice, and shows that she values other’s opinions too highly. Again, keep in mind, I was the high school outcast, so while I definitely sympathize with wanting to be with the popular guy, I know now that solidarity amongst the freaks and geeks is where it’s at. So, no, Andie ending up with Blaine just didn’t sit right with me on that level.
Then I watched the featurette on the DVD that discussed the ending controversy with key members of the cast and crew, and I can sort of see the argument, on some levels at least. One of the main themes of the film is classism, and by putting Andie with Blaine, you’re showing that these differences can be overcome. I’m all for that. But then wait, if that’s your argument, then the battle is won in Blane’s mind as he’s the one who overcame the prejudice for them to be together (Andie always wanted it). Except Andie is our protagonist. Shouldn’t the battle have been hers? Doesn’t this then just reduce her to a trope of a lovestruck high school girl, with no real growth? Although, for a converse view from the storytelling side, we do spend the whole movie watching her try to get him, so of course it makes sense that viewers would be frustrated to not see that happen.
Yeah I’m still not sure I buy it. I mean, I get why the decision was made. I just think that Andie going with Duckie, even if it wasn’t romantic (thus skirting the chemistry argument), and she chose to hang with her best good friend, would have been a more compelling and possibly even a powerful ending. And I just like Duckie so much better. How could you not choose the guy who spontaneously busts out with the most endearing dance in the middle of a record store? Actually, you know what? Andie doesn’t even deserve Duckie. It’s cool that she goes with Blaine because Duckie deserves far far better, and I really hope he got it.”