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Some Kind of Wonderful: Special Edition

After not getting to use the ending he wanted for his 1986 movie Pretty in Pink, John Hughes decided to remedy that by basically remaking the same movie, only with a gender reversal. The result is Some Kind of Wonderful — the last of Hughes' teen movies — with Eric Stoltz in the Molly Ringwald role and Lea Thompson replacing Andrew McCarthy as the love object from the other side of the social tracks. The only problem is that Hughes left out most of the humor this time — the triangle between Stoltz's artsy iconoclast, Thompson's popular girl, and Mary Stuart Masterson as Stoltz's best pal is played with so much straightforward angst and sincerity that it's sometimes a trial to watch. Stoltz plays Keith Nelson, a lower-class outsider who works in a gas station and harbors a secret talent as an artist. His dad (John Ashton) is badgering him to pick a college, but all Keith can think about is Amanda Jones (Thompson) with her enormous, layered '80s hairdo and huge shoulder pads. In fact, Keith is so enthralled by Amanda that he's blind to the charms of his lifelong friend Watts (Masterson), a tomboy type who plays a mean set of drums and habitually wears a pair of annoying-yet-charming fingerless fringed gloves. Amanda has a boyfriend (of course!) who wants to pound Keith for looking at his woman — standard Hughes-issue rich asshole Hardy Jenns (Craig Scheffer, with seriously poufy hair.) Some Kind of Wonderful has some marvelous performances — most notably Stoltz and Masterson — and is saved by Hughes' terrific gift for teen dialogue, but it takes itself far too seriously most of the time. Thompson's character is unsympathetic in the extreme; Amanda is self-absorbed and completely invested in being accepted by the rich kids, and one scene where she flirts with a balding teacher to get out of detention is downright creepy. Thompson's certainly shot flatteringly, though, perhaps due to her budding romance with director Howard Deutch, whom she later married (if nothing else, that might explain the weirdly erotic scene with Masterson watching Thompson prance around in the steamy girl's locker room clad only in her underwear.) The actors are all way too old to be playing high schoolers — Thompson and Stoltz were both 26, while Masterson was 21 — and the clothes and hair are so dated as to be downright funny. And the bizarre Rolling Stones motif makes no sense in the context of the film at all — the main characters are named Keith and Watts, and "Amanda Jones" is the name of a Stones song. On the other hand, a 20-something Elias Koteas has a secondary role as a quirky skinhead, and he's a joy to behold. Paramount's second DVD release of Some Kind of Wonderful arrives in a Special Edition that upgrades the previous extras-free disc. The crisp anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) and audio (in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround) are joined this time around by a new commentary from director Howard Deutch and star Lea Thompson, four featurettes ("The Making of Some Kind of Wonderful," "Meet the Cast," "The Music," and "John Hughes Time Capsule"), and a photo gallery. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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