A John Hughes film without the regular John Hughes cast, which may be why this 1987 gem is often overlooked. But Some Kind of Wonderful’s somewhat quirky cast is also one of the things that sets it apart. Keith (Eric Stoltz) is an artist from the wrong side of town who works at a gas station. His only friend is the tomboy Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson). Watts is teased at school for her butch look and has only her drums and Keith to sustain her. Watts yearns for romance with Keith but she’s too proud to let on, and Keith is oblivious.
Keith sets his romantic sights on Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson). She’s from the wrong side of town too, but her beauty has gained her acceptance into the super-snobby, super-rich clique.
Keith gets a date with Amanda by catching her just as she tells her obnoxious, two-timing boyfriend to—in 80s terms—“kiss off.” The boyfriend, Hardy Jenns (possibly the greatest snob-name of all time, played with relish by Craig Sheffer) invites Keith and Amanda to spend their date at a party at his house. Hardy tells Keith he wants to be friends, but in reality he wants to lure Keith to his house and beat him up. Keith learns of the plot and mistakenly thinks Amanda is involved.
Meanwhile, Watts desperately tries to convince Keith that Amanda will only hurt him. It doesn’t work. So she offers to play chauffer on their date, preferring to be the third wheel than to let him go. And in a poignantly acted scene, Watts helps Keith prepare for the date by practicing a kiss (see video clip below). She role-plays that she is Amanda, and your heart could break just watching her, knowing that she has rehearsed this kiss so many times in her head.
Before the date, Keith withdraws all his hard-earned college money to buy earrings for Amanda. He wants to convince her that she is just as good as her rich friends by giving her something expensive of her own.
Our trio ends up at Hardy’s house party (80s-style, with packed, smoky rooms of dancing partiers), where Keith realizes Amanda knew nothing of the plot to beat him up. The plot is foiled when a bunch of leather-wearing misfits he met in detention show up to defend Keith.
They leave the party, and Amanda realizes Keith loves Watts at the same moment he does. Amanda sweetly gives back the earrings and tells Keith to give them to Watts.
He does, and the film ends with a real Keith/Watts kiss and the timeless line, “You look good wearing my future.” They walk into the rain to an irresistible remake of “Can’t Help Falling In Love” by a band with a regrettable name, Lick the Tins.
So our main character’s perfect match turns out to be the best friend he’s confided in all along. That may be fairly standard rom-com material, but in other John Hughes classics (Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles), the main character ends up not with the best friend, but with the super-rich, super-popular object of her affections. Which makes this film’s ending a twist for Hughes.
But in all three of these movies the girl does get the guy of her dreams. Watts is right, she does belong with Keith. And in Sixteen Candles, Samantha does belong with Jake, just like she’s told The Geek, and Andie in Pretty in Pink does belong with Blane, just like she’s told Duckie. It also means, come to think of it, that in each film the strong young woman who knows her mind is absolutely right and proven so at the end. John Hughes as early girl-power guru? Hmm. Another essay for another time, perhaps.
Some Kind of Wonderful Soundtrack:
- Do Anything – Pete Shelley
- Brilliant Mind – The Furniture
- Cry Like This – Blue Room
- I Go Crazy – Flesh For Lulu
- She Loves Me – Stephen Duffy
- The Hardest Walk – The Jesus And Mary Chain
- The Shyest Time – The Apartments
- Miss Amanda Jones – March Violets
- Can’t Help Falling In Love – Lick the Tins
- Turn To The Sky – March Violets