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
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
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.
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 Pinkand 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.