Logline: A teenage misfit, who is infatuated with a popular girl at school, is blind to his best friend’s feelings for him.
Review: Some Kind of Wonderful was the last of the films that John Hughes wrote and/or directed in the 1980s about teenage adolescence. Even though it does not reach the high notes of Sixteen Candles (1984), The Breakfast Club (1985), or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), Some Kind of Wonderful is still a memorable film that resonates because of its emotional throughline.
More serious in tone than Hughes’ other teen films, Some Kind of Wonderful is a retread of Pretty in Pink (1986), which was also penned by Hughes and directed by Howard Deutch. Hughes offered Pretty in Pink stars Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy the lead roles in Some Kind of Wonderful but they turned him down. Ringwald stated, “I declined because I felt the script wasn’t strong enough and was too derivative of the other films I’d already made with John.” Admittedly, the script is not as tight as Hughes’ earlier works, mostly down to its execution and baffling character motivations.
The characters are pretty one-dimensional but endearing. The cast of young performers gives mostly solid performances. Eric Stoltz, Lea Thompson, and Mary Stuart Masterson are the leads in this bizarre love triangle. Thompson is Amanda Jones, a popular girl at school who is more traditionally beautiful than the prettier tomboy “Watts,” (Masterson). Keith (Stoltz) is Watts’ best friend and the object of her desire. Elias Koteas is lovable as the skinhead Duncan, who befriends Keith. It is not uncommon for actors well beyond their teenage years to play adolescents but it is more of a stretch in Some Kind of Wonderful considering that Thompson and Stoltz were about twenty-five during filming.
Despite its flaws, Some Kind of Wonderful has a certain charm. Like Hughes’ other films, it is emotionally resonant and while not as realistic, it certainly is memorable. One of the film’s most interesting themes is that of the social hierarchy in American high school, something that has not changed since the 80s. If you like Hughes’ other films, then Some Kind of Wonderful is certainly worth a look.
Rating (out of ****): ***