Last night, I went to see a 30th-anniversary viewing of Pretty in Pink. It’s been a long time since I caught it on cable, and I’ll also admit to seeing it in the theater as a tween (before that term even existed) during its original run. It was fun to be immersed again in the 80s, see the Brat Pack in their glory days, and hear all those cool songs. The cassette of the soundtrack spent much time in my stereo back in the day, and I still revisit it on Spotify.
At the end of the film, we got a special treat—a peek at the alternate ending. In fact, it was the original, intended ending. Let’s just say, I used to be Team Duckie. Up until yesterday.
*Warning, spoilers* (haha. If you haven’t seen this movie in the last three decades then I can assume you’ve lived under a rock.)
So what was the original ending, you ask? Well, imagine the prom again, but Blane has a date. He goes up to Andie, who has just entered the ballroom with Duckie, and they exchange some words. We didn’t get to hear those words, but obviously he says something that doesn’t convince Andie he’s redeemable. Duckie and Andie then share a slow dance surrounded by their classmates. Presumably, they live happily ever after… Or at least until Andie goes to college.
We also saw a brief interview with some of the cast that shed light on the film’s history. Apparently, Robert Downey Jr. was originally either going to play Duckie or was sought out for the role. Molly Ringwald said that she felt an attraction to Robert Downey Jr. and could imagine Andie and Duckie having physical chemistry. But when Jon Cryer took the role, it became evident to her that those two characters were meant to remain good friends. As they were filming, she tried to persuade John Hughes to change the ending so Andie and Blane resumed their relationship. She said that everything felt wrong when they filmed the ending, and it was like Andie ended up with her brother. In fact, when the film was test screened, audiences agreed and booed at the ending. It was then, the filmmakers really knew they had a problem that needed fixing.
John Hughes and the scriptwriters revisited the ending. Once Hughes imagined Blane attending the prom solo, the new film ending became clear. Six months later, he called the cast back for a reshoot. (Funny side note: Andrew McCarthy was performing a show in NYC at that time and had shaved his head. In the final prom scene, he’s sporting a wig. That’s why he looks a little off in that final scene!)
While I still love Pretty in Pink, watching it last night made me more aware of its flaws. Perhaps since I’m now writing romance and have learned more about constructing a romantic storyline, it became clear to me why I always struggled with the film’s conclusion. While watching the alternate ending last night, I realized that Andie and Duckie as a couple didn’t seem right after all. But, I still felt rather ‘blah’ about her rekindling a romance with Blane. I wanted her to pull a ‘Kelly Taylor’ (Dylan or Brandon?) and do a “I choose me” stunt at the end. It hit me that the reason I didn’t want to see the rekindling of their romance was because we were never given much of a romance to begin with.
In the film, we see Andie and Blane go on their first date that ends up being a total failure. He takes her to Steff’s party which is a lesson in “Bullying 101.” Then Andie invites him into her world at the club where he’s clearly a fish out of water. She’s embarrassed for him to take her home, but when he does, they have that famous kiss in front of his BMW. We’re given a whopping example of insta-love.
Soon, we see a scene where Steff gives Blane an ultimatum: their friendship over continuing to date Andie. Of course, it’s fueled by Steff’s desire to have the one girl who has refused his advances. Andie and Blane’s date at the horse stable follows this ultimatum. They profess that they’ll give their relationship a shot by casting away other’s expectations and then they make out while sitting on some hay.
Alas, it’s time for the black moment. But wait, where is it? All we see is Andie calling Blane a few times, and he doesn’t call her back. They have that big fight by the lockers, and we all remember how that ends.
Had the movie given them more screen time as a (happy) couple and further explored their goals and motivation, I would have cared more about them reuniting in the end. I would’ve never cheered on Duckie for thirty years. I should have been aching for Andie and Blane to kiss and make up. And I would’ve believed why his kisses would make a girl drop her pink purse in the parking lot.
Watching the movie last night reminded me why we try to develop our characters and develop plots with satisfying resolutions. In a romance, we don’t want to cheer on the “other” guy. We don’t want to feel “meh” about the main characters sharing a grand finale kiss. And whenever we hear OMD’s “If You Leave,” we want to be transported back to Andie’s prom night and smile.
Flaws and all, I still love the movie as it’s deeply rooted in the pop culture of my youth, but man, it could’ve been so much more. I just hope Andie wised up in college and found herself a real guy worthy of her love and bad-ass’ery.