Sunday, November 8, 2015

don't go roaming where you don't belong

We open on Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) playing the drums, then a little montage, Keith (Eric Stolz) walking along the tracks, past a factory, past Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson) making out with Hardy (Craig Scheffer). Establish our characters, establish the setting--got some class issues coming, but they probably will remain mostly subtext as usual. For example, Keith's father (John Ashton), who didn't go to college, wants Keith to go to college because, you know, that means he can have opportunities he (the father) didn't have.

By the way, it's Some Kind of Wonderful.

Amanda Jones is not the same sort of character as Cindy Mancini in Can't Buy Me Love or Maggie in Lucas... Actually, I'm not so sure those two are even that much alike. Cindy's mother has money, but I think they are still far from upper class. Maggie seems a bit more working class, though obviously above whatever Lucas is. Amanda Jones, here, is like a rich girl, but that's "guilt by association" according to Watts. She actually lives in the same "sector" as Watts and Keith. She just dates up.

That yearning for someone outside one's class or clique or whatever--that's central to so many of these movies. I think we can understand this urge easily with a line I neglected to mention yesterday. Something that... I think it was Lili who said it in The Danish Girl--she liked the idea of marriage because two people come together and create something new, bigger than the two of them. (Unfortunately, I didn't scribble down that particular line during the film and, since it's not even out yet, there's no transcript online.) The point is, when two people get together, those people change, and there's also something new in the both of them, or rather the pairing of them. If one person is... dating up, then that resulting entity is something better than he or she was before. Of course, we want people who are above us because that lifts us up a little. This is especially true when we are, well, low. A poor guy who works in a garage after school to make money. A nerd who mows lawns (hey, that's Ronald Miller and Lucas Bly). Or whatever.

I was just reading Roger Ebert's review of Some Kind of Wonderful--as I am wont to do. He's got a great take on this film; "[I]t is not about whether the hero will get the girl," he argues. "It is about whether the hero should get the girl" (italics mine). He continues by asking, "[W]hen was the last time you saw a movie that even knew that could be the question?" And, he concludes:

"Some Kind of Wonderful" is yet another film in which [John] Hughes and his team show a special ability to make an entertaining movie about teenagers, which is also about life, about insecurity, about rejection, about learning to grow. I sometimes have the peculiar feeling that the kids in Hughes's movies are more grown up than the adults in most of the other ones.

Compare Keith and Watts and Amanda to, say, Neal Page in Planes, Trains & Automobiles or Dutch Dooley in Dutch. Roger's got a point--these teenage characters are far more mature.

We get a nice run and get the girl scene to end the movie. Classic. But, no slow clap. That it a tragic misstep, I must say.

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