[Movie] Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

Let me take you back in time…back to when I was the tender age of 12, in the seventh grade. It was an awkward time…I had a mouthful of braces, was gawky and had the remnants of a bad perm…music and movies were a means by which I could escape from the awkwardness of Teenland into a cool world of fantasy full of awesomeness. At this time, the older sis and I would frequently go to the cinema. With boredom, our proximity to downtown Sudbury, and an attempt by my Mom to get us out of her hair, we saw many movies in the theatre between 1985 and 1988. It was a fun way to spend a Saturday night.

One of my absolute favourite movies that I saw in the theatre during that time was John Hughes’ Some Kind of Wonderful, starring Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson and Lea Thompson. The movie was released in theatres in the Fall of 1987, and tells the tale of working-class high-school senior, Keith, his friendship with Tomboy, Watts, and his attraction to fellow student, Amanda, who is also from his working-class neighbourhood…but who has somehow crashed the popularity glass ceiling in high school and is part of the it crowd.

The crux of the story is Keith’s crush on Amanda, and how he plans to ask Amanda out on a date. He recruits Watts’s aid, and manages to wrangle help from the big gun skids from detention. Good thing because Keith is up against some serious shit. Amanda has just broken up with her rich, popular, and possessive asshole boyfriend, Hardy Jenns; a vindictive mec who threatens to ruin Amanda’s “rep” if she doesn’t get back with his lying cheating ass. Another strike against Amanda is having the most vile and venomous girl”friends” who abandon her when she decides to go out with grease-monkey Keith instead of reconciling with Hardy. Meanwhile, Keith is dealing with an overbearing father who is riding his ass about going to college. Then he has to put up with best friend, Watts’ opinions about his taste in girls – which is a ruse because, well, while Tomboy Watts herself dresses masculine, denounces men publicly and is accused of being a lesbian, she is secretly in love with Keith.

watts

“Guys are so sickening. Really, it must be a drag to be a slave to the male sex drive.” – Watts

In terms of characters, I thought Watts was the coolest chick on the block. First, I liked her sense of style that didn’t mirror anyone else. I mean, the girl was allowed to play drums at home (poorly, as my mature eye sees it now) but I only wished I could have ditched the piano for my own kit at 13*! She was also a strong and bold gal who stood up for herself when people called her names. Lastly, Watts was a faithful and altruistic friend, always there, willing to help Keith hook up with Amanda, all the while sacrificing her own tender feelings for him and dying a little on the inside. I liked Watts. There is a little of Watts in me, for sure. Especially the last part about sacrificing your feelings to help your male friend / crush hook up with other girls (ouch, that hurts…).

Amanda and Hardy – a match made in hell?

It’s not hard to know why sexually frustrated Keith chased after Amanda; she is easy on the eyes and in the bedroom. What I don’t get is why Hardy Jenns (that’s right, with two “nns”), her asshole boyfriend, would need her. The movie has him successfully chasing tail all over high school while dating Amanda, using his popularity to get his way. …And uh, why is he popular? He’s a conniving donkey! Amanda isn’t much better, really. In fact, her behavior is pretty vile, purposefully agreeing to go out with Keith to make Hardy jealous, knowing how Keith feels about her. (Can you tell I’m not a fan of Amanda’s?)

keith-nelson-some-kind-of-wonderful

And while we say Keith gets the stubby end, he doesn’t fare much better with me. He’s cute with gorgeous blue eyes, but makes some questionable choices. He is an amazing painter with tons of potential, and instead of studying Fine Arts after high school like he wanted to, he decides instead to blow his entire first year College tuition on a pair of diamond earrings he planned to give to Amanda on their first date. Although considered a romantic gesture in my 12-year-old mind, I remember thinking that this was a pretty stupid move. I was not surprised his Dad blew a massive gasket.

duncan

The best character in Some Kind of Wonderful was Duncan, played by Elias Koteas. He is the leader of the detention pack who helped Keith get his date with Amanda, and uses his muscle to eliminate some of Hardy Jenns’ obstacles. Duncan has an attitude that goes against the societal grain – he has a rough skinhead exterior, counters authority, but overall he sees the good in people and is kind. I like him because he is the only one who is completely transparent – what you see is what you get.

some-kind-of-wonderful_still5

I know it may seem like I’m picking apart Some Kind of Wonderful’s characters and plot, but for all its faults, I have loved this movie from the first time I watched it. It has all the elements that would attract a young teen girl to its story – conflict among peer groups, the desire to fit in, and the need to break free of the rules laid out by parents…. The strongest one here is the complexities of love and relationships. Hughes took imperfect and complex characters and crafted an interesting yarn that is still watchable today.

And now, some fun facts about Some Kind of Wonderful in my life:

  • Saw it in the movie theatre, November 1987.
  • Never rented the movie on VHS – it was never available for rent!
  • Finally taped the film onto VHS off of First Choice Superchannel… it was an awful print (thanks to SLP…), and the audio was baaaad. I have since acquired a DVD copy, and was amazed the first time I took it for a spin that I could finally clearly hear what everyone was saying!

Some Kind of Wonderful
Writ/Dir: John Hughes
1987

*Made up for it at 28 when I had my own house and my own rec room…and my own drum kit.

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34 comments

  1. Never available for rent? That’s odd or unusual isn’t it? I never saw it myself.

    My sis had the bad perm in about grade 5 ish. Poor kid. It was just awful. She looked like Annie. She was terrified to go to school the next day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t think I ever saw this movie. In the 80s, becoming a teenager myself, this sort of relationship movie wouldn’t have been on my radar. I liked ninja and kung fu movies. Now, if it had turned out that Eric Stoltz was a ninja, and he was after Hardy Jenns because he’d killed Stoltz’ family and Stoltz needed revenge, and then at the end it was revealed that both Masterson and Thompson we also secretly ninjas who help in the final boss fight… well then I woulda been all over it! πŸ™‚

    I’m glad you dig it, though. I know Hughes’ films have a huge following, even to this day.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Loved this movie as I do all John Hughes teen flicks. Is it weird that I had a mad crush on Mary Stuart Masterson in this movie and then, forever thereafter?

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Personally, I’m surprised more people haven’t seen this one. Elias Koteas was great in it too! Wasn’t Masterson in Benny & Joon too? Or was that someone else?

        Liked by 1 person

            1. That’s a good one. It hit me in the feels, especially how Joon was a painter, and I was going through Art School at the time.

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      1. Whaaaaaaaaat you have drums and you do not play them?????? This does not compute! OMG I want drums so bad and if I had a kit it’d be set up and bothering the neighbours in no time. In the garage??? Sacrilege! πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

        1. LOL! Yes, I have a drum kit. I wasn’t allowed to play the drums when I was younger, and said to my husband, once we move into our first house, I am buying myself a kit. And said it, and did it in 2002!
          I self-taught myself (no lessons). We would jam together and with neighbours. It was fun. Then we moved into this house and set up the kit. We continued the tradition, but eventually time, interests…space limitations…I had the kit set up, but didn’t play it for over two years. Then we did some renos and rearranged things. The drum kit is now being stored in the garage. It was fun while it lasted, but…I’ve been sort of thinking of selling it actually…

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          1. Damn that sounds like a lot of fun. I played drums in a band, we even gigged out a few times, back when I lived in KW. Around ’97 or so. It was great fun. I was all self-taught too, but apparently good enough to play in a band! Anyway, it was a buddy’s kit, and when the band split up (as they inevitably do), he took it with him. It made me sad, because I love playing drums, but c’est la vie. All these years since and I’ve thought about how cool it would be to play again, but we moved around so much, province to province, and then we had babies (not conducive to ever getting time to play that doesn’t interrupt a nap or something). Now they’re bigger (and I could show them a thing or two) it’s a cool idea. As for yours, don’t sell them. Set them up and let ‘er rip! They’re waiting for you!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. We put them away last spring to make room for a much needed futon (we had a boatload of company last year). I honestly don’t know where we would set them up now. My desire to pound the skins has waned over the years. The feeling might come back…

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            1. It could happen…I’ve lately been thinking of picking up a paint brush again (12 years since I’ve applied paint to canvas), so it could happen…

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          2. Ooo yeah, do that too! It’s been ages since my lovely wife painted just for herself (not with the kids or with clients) and I keep telling her it’s a missing piece in her life. Talent like that needs attention!

            You’d better get busy, lady! Hahahahaha

            Liked by 1 person

      2. I have two honest words for your worries:

        GIVE ‘ER!

        Seriously, who’s gonna see what you do? Maybe the hubs? And who’d hear you pounding the skins? The same. And that’s all cool. It’s not like you’re playing in public, or displaying your paintings in a gallery or trying to sell them. It’s all just for you, in the privacy of your own home.

        Nothing stopping you, lady, I say roll up those sleeves and let loose the creative urges!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I too like the What you See is What You get characters – haven’t seen this one, but considering the cast, Hughes, and now the added Sarca personal VHS layer of appreciation, I’m keen to check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this one, but, much like all of Hughes’ moviefilms, I do like it. Even now. Definitely moments where you question some of the characters and their choices, but simultaneously you can relate. Guess that’s the contradictory nature of the age. Our thoughts, feelings, and actions … all at odds with each other. Thankfully we grow out of that, eh? Amaright? Eh? Huh? … πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love this film Sarca! It seemed to be on TV all the time here in the early 90s.

    The fact that it’s almost the same film as Pretty in Pink (drums rather than dodgy fashions) doesn’t matter at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Although I was born in the ’80s and saw this movie when I wasn’t really old enough to watch it, I did love this movie too along with Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Pretty in Pink. Almost all of John Hughes’ films. I agree that the characters aren’t perfect, sometimes these movies function as pure fantasy, but Hughes always hit the teen angst part on the nose. I think as dated as these movies are now, they still hold up today and are very relatable to anyone who is a teen. Or to us oldies who know what it’s like to be a teenager still finding their place in the world.

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