Pretty in Pink - Jumping back in time and taking a trip to the 80's to check in with the high school crowd I found myself in the halls of what I assume to be a normal high school in suburbia when the damn richies and the normies seem to coexist, mostly in financial conflict that would provide a ton of fodder for an excellent satire about the classless American society or about class struggle or something like that. However, that does not seem to be the case with this film as Pretty in Pink proves to mostly be a love letter to the 80's culture. Bolstered by a top notch soundtrack, sure the 80's tunes occasionally begin to grate on my nerves but they do have a sort of charm to them sometimes, the film seems to mostly always be playing music that compliments what is going on and enhances the 80's factor of the film while also avoiding feeling overly 'hip,' as Molly Ringwald's character would say. Aside from the soundtrack the script is pretty solid, the plot is a bit generic, as is the ending, but the dialogue is great and most of the scenes are just a joy to watch.
These scenes are helped along immensely by the acting talent involved in the film. Ringwald is solid to good in the lead role and she gives a heartfelt performance, but little really stood out about her character or her performance, aside from when she interacted with her father and one scene in her bedroom with Duckie, which is a shame because the plot with her father seems kind of forced and despite her relationship with Duckie being believable her relationship with Andrew McCarthy's character just feels off. I suspect this is because McCarthy only turns in a solid to mediocre performance and simply does not compliment Ringwald the way that Jon Cryer does in the Duckie role. He is not only a top notch character, but Cryer's performance is so pitch perfect that I am almost tempted to call the film a triumph because of him. Of course that would discredit the brilliant performance that James Spader turns in as Steff, another one that I ought to be raving about. It kind of disappoints me that all the supporting actors are better than the leads though. Still, the film is really enjoyable to watch despite being generic and it has me wanting to check out Sixteen Candles because I really enjoy these high school teen coming of age films.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - The comedic duo has long been a staple of comedy I suppose, so seeing what appears on the surface to be another tandem of talent, Steve Martin and Michael Caine, in what I assume must be a comedic film had me expecting great things despite only seeing Martin once before in The Jerk. Well, as a straight up comedy I must say that I finished this film immensely disappointed. I don't know if I just was not in the mood for comedy, if the humor just wasn't my style, or if I was still having a Duckie hangover from earlier, but aside from one or two scenes I did not really have many big laughs and could only chuckle ever ten minutes or so as one of Martin's or Caine's jokes hit. Luckily, the film does not fall back on the Step Brothers mentality of just letting guys go for laughs without any sort of plot. In fact, the plot is what helps keep the film very much afloat during the comedic gaps. Now I'm not one who has much exposure to conman movies, actually The Brothers Bloom may be the only one I have ever watched, but I really enjoyed the way the film always kept me on my toes and guessing what was going on without, usually, abandoning logical explanations for some of the events that were occurring. The plot is really compelling and ties together well with an ending that, completely opposite of Pretty in Pink, had me mostly surprised and really impressed that it never took an easy way out while still delivering a satisfying conclusion.
The leads were pretty spectacular as well. Martin was a shot of electricity to compliment Caine nicely and the constant competition between the two con men was incredibly fun to watch and made for a rather compelling film. The introduction of Headly's character allowed for another pretty good performance that really helps keep things fresh between the two men and assuring that the plot does not dull, she really does exactly what she needs to and she does it incredibly well. The other thing that I wanted to compliment was the direction. While it is nothing spectacular, though I guess the cinematography is really good, it is above solid and there is a certain visual flair to the film that makes it pretty interesting to watch from a technical level. This visual flair proves really helpful with the humor as well because a fair amount of what Martin does is visual humor and it is always good if a director makes things easy on the eyes and interesting to watch instead of just telling to audience to watch and be content. The film is really enjoyable and a good deal of fun. Nothing spectacular or mind blowing, but pretty good.
So I held off on letter and number grades because, before writing, I thought that this would be closer and, looking back, it probably should be since I had an enjoyable time with both films but cannot see either one advancing very far beyond the first round. Still, the leads in Scoundrels were better, the direction much better and actually distinct, and the film is just as if not more compelling, plus it rarely becomes generic. I'm sad to see Duckie and Steff go because they are great and I hope everyone gets to see Pretty in Pink simply for them and for the three or four great scenes in the film, but ultimately I think I would be doing a disservice to the bracket if I did not advance Dirty Rotten Scoundrels to the second round.
Pretty in Pink - C+/B- or 3.789204723185723180957347501
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - B or 4.019237219847230851723857120581732