Keith (Eric Stoltz) is not your typical student.
Unlike most kids at your average American school, he doesn't really fit into any established clique, because he shuns sport for art, his family are far too 'normal' to be either pompously rich or sickeningly poor, his academic achievements are average, his best friend Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) is a drum-playing tomboy and he has the temerity to worship the 'in-crowd' pretty girl Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson) from afar.
Suddenly, this distance is closed when Thompson sees her overtly rich and slimy boyfriend Hardy Jenns (Craig Sheffer) for the scuzball he is and kind of falls into accepting a date with Stoltz to show Sheffer that she meant it when she dumped him. Although she soon regrets her impetuous act, it's now too late - she really has to go through with the date.
It's the action surrounding the date that really makes this movie shine - there's the disbelief of Thompson's friends when she passes on opportunities to ditch Stoltz. There's the incredulity of Stoltz's friends and family (especially his younger sister) that anyone, let alone Amanda Jones, would go out on a date with him. There's the attempt by Stoltz's father (played by John Ashton in a manner that makes you feel that if Homer Simpson was real, he would be just like this) to control his family and his anger when he discovers Stoltz has spent all his college money on a gift for his date. There's Stoltz's burgeoning friendship with the 'out' crowd, led wonderfully by the mis-understood skinhead Duncan (Elias Koteas). And most of all, there's the unstated but overpowering love that Masterson has for Stoltz, complicated further by her offer to drive on the night of the big date.
Of course, a scuzball like Hardy Jenns would never leave things alone when he's been slighted and so Sheffer starts plotting to get Thompson back,and have his 'heavies' pound Stoltz into the bargain. Stoltz hears of this, but is still determined to go through with what could be his perfect date and so the scene is set for culmination of the movie, when everyone gets what they deserve (yes, even Duncan the Skinhead).
Now I'm a little biased here, because I feel so positive about most of the movies that John Hughes has been involved with. Hughes was the driving force behind a whole heap of 'Brat Pack' movies through the 80's and there are many that have attained near-cult status. 'Ferris Beuller's Day Off' is a great example of the type. Others, such as 'The Breakfast Club', stand alone as perhaps the greatest example in movie history of how a handful of good actors, backed by a great script and a message, can combine for something really special.
Some Kind Of Wonderful is one of Hughes' lesser-known efforts, given the ratings on the Internet Movie Database and the fact that far fewer people appear to know it or to have seen it. For me, this is a great pity, because I feel it is the best example of Hughes work. It has a great deal of understated humor, the key elements of the 'in' and 'out' crowds and good acting that brings believable characters to life.
Many people I know who watch the movie come back to me with a story about how they identified with one particular character. Mostly the girls are split fairly even between the two female leads. There is Lea Thompson's character, who was struggling to fit somewhere, trying to be a part of the rich kids group and then trying to stand alone again, which was possibly harder for her, given her looks and popularity. Then there is Watts, played by the beautiful Mary Stuart Masterson, who I have been told plays the typical "I love you, but I won't say anything, because you might say no, then I'd lose you as a friend" scenario that many less-confident girls go through. The guys are easier. Mainly they go for Stoltz (who wouldn't want the chance of being with Lea Thompson and Mary Stuart Masterson, both on the same night!) but a surprising amount identify with the anti-hero skinhead, Duncan.Notice any mistakes? Review
There are many really strong performances, especially from the leads, but also from some of the minor characters.
Some say it is a little predictable, but so what? Who ever said life has to have an unhappy ending?Our rating:
9.6 out of 10Review Written by Paul Shrimpton: Contact | More Reviews by Paul Shrimpton