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Film / Some Kind of Wonderful

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"It's not a great movie. It progresses slowly at times and it uses some fairly standard characters. But it is not about whether the hero will get the girl. It is about whether the hero should get the girl, and when was the last time you saw a movie that even knew that could be the question?"

A 1987 romantic teen dramedy film written by John Hughes and directed by Howard Deutch, Some Kind of Wonderful was the last of Hughes's six acclaimed teen films in The '80s.

The protagonist, Keith (Eric Stoltz), is a working-class student who's in love with popular girl Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson). Meanwhile, his tomboyish best friend Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) is in love with him, but Keith doesn't notice that. When Keith asks Amanda out right after she breaks up with her jerkass boyfriend Hardy (Craig Sheffer), she says yes, mainly out of spite. Watts's jealousy causes conflict between her and Keith, but they reconcile, and Watts agrees to chauffeur Keith to his date. At first, Keith and Amanda hit it off, but when Keith comes to realize that he loves Watts, Amanda tells him to go to her, and they get together.

The film is similar to Hughes and Deutch's previous collaboration Pretty in Pink, with genders switched and the ending changed. Some Kind of Wonderful had a surprisingly good (but hard-to-find) young-adult novelization that really fleshed out the characters.

Contains examples of:

  • A-Cup Angst: Watts jokes how she got "lucky" and never got big breasts. Or breasts at all.
  • The Alleged Car: Watts' Mini. Keith is humiliated when he borrows it to give Amanda a ride home, and it won't start.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Watts, who is in love with her best friend Keith, who is in love with the rich girl Amanda.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • According to the first draft of the script and the young-adult novelization, Watts's first name is Susan. Also, her parents are both dead and she lives with two neglectful older brothers.
    • One annoying plot hole is also filled in by the novelization: in the movie, we have no idea why Keith is waiting at a club in the hopes that Amanda will show up. In the book, it's explained that she told him she was a big fan of the band who was playing.
  • Alpha Bitch: Subverted with Amanda; she runs with the rich and popular crowd, and Watts tries to stop Keith from dating her because she thinks Amanda is the Alpha Bitch, but she's actually a very nice girl (and working-class, like Watts and Keith):
    Keith: She's not big money. Do you know where she lives?
    Watts: Yeah, in our sector. But she runs with the rich and the beautiful .. .which is guilt by association.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Keith's sister, Laura. She has a habit of breaking into Keith's room to the point where she does it even when he's inside and she could just knock.
  • Badass Boast: Duncan, Keith's skinhead delinquent friend, to Jerk Jock Hardy:
    Duncan: I'm here to wipe the floor with your ass, and you know it, and everybody here knows it, and above all, you deserve it. In fact, I think it's safe to say that this party is about to become a historical fact.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The party.
    Hardy: You're gonna have to beg.
    (the door bursts open as Duncan and his gang enter)
    Duncan: I don't thank that'll be necessary.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Amanda is set up to be this, but really isn't. Hardy is this.
  • Boyish Short Hair: Part of Watts' masculine look.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Keith and Watts have known each other since preschool.
  • Conspicuous Gloves: Watts wears a pair of red leather fingerless gloves in pretty much all her scenes.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Watts is almost constantly quipping at people.
  • Flushing Toilet, Screaming Shower: Keith has a Delayed Reaction to this when his dad flushes the toilet while he's in the shower to bring him out to talk.
  • Hypocrite: Hardy is perfectly capable of trying to woo two different girls within a single minute, telling both how "Trust is the basis of any relationship".
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Him...: As Watts tells Amanda, "You break his heart, I break your face."
  • Is That a Threat?: When Watts is in the changing room, a girl mocks her for wearing boxer shorts:
    Girl: I've just never seen a girl wearing boy's underpants before.
    Watts: (takes out a drumstick) You ever seen a girl with a drumstick shoved up her nose?
    Girl: Oh, is that some kind of threat?
    Watts: It's some kind of a warning.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Amanda telling Keith to go to Watts in the end.
  • Jerkass: Hardy Jenns ("With two 'N's!"). He's, like... the perfect asshole.
  • Jerkass with a Heart of Gold:
    • Duncan, Keith's skinhead/biker friend, is actually quite nice and polite and does his best to look out for Keith and Amanda.
    • Laura may be the Annoying Younger Sibling, but when she overhears Hardy and his friends planning to beat up Keith when he shows up at the party, she immediately tells Keith about it, and apologizes for her past behavior.
  • Jerk Jock: Amanda's boyfriend, Hardy. See Manipulative Bastard for how he gets away with it.
  • Just Friends: Keith and Watts, for most of the movie. They apparently knew each other since before school.
  • The Lad-ette: Watts. Before the Practice Kiss, she even says to Keith: "Pretend I'm a girl" since she acts more like a stereotypical teenage boy, with her boyish short hair and masculine attire (including wearing boxers) to boot.
  • Last-Name Basis: Everyone calls Watts by her last name. Her first name is never spoken in the film (according to the novelization, it's Susan).
  • Last-Minute Hookup: Watts and Keith eventually end up together after he realises how he feels about her.
  • Last of Its Kind: This was the last teen movie that John Hughes ever made. Starting with Planes, Trains and Automobiles which was released the same year, Hughes worked on films aimed more towards adults for the rest of his life, and would go on to write screenplays in the 1990's and a bit of the 2000's, before he died in 2009.
  • Love Epiphany: Keith, after an elaborate date with Amanda, realises that he really loves Watts and always did, but it only clicked in right there.
  • Love Triangle: Keith wants Amanda, who doesn't even acknowledge his existence for most of the time. Watts has serious feelings for Keith, and he eventually realises he loves her too.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Hardy. He easily projects an affable persona, manages to turn people's insecurities back on them with ease, and even manages to con people who should know better.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Watts and Keith. She is a tomboyish drummer, he's a shy and sensitive artist.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Watts. At the beginning, a guy tells her that she has "a little bit too much up front to be a guy" so she has to be a lesbian. She's actually a straight tomboy though, into her friend Keith.
  • Oblivious to Love: Keith doesn't realise Watts's feelings for him, and his for her, till right at the end.
  • Oh, Crap!: Hardy gets a massive one at the end when Duncan, Keith's new biker/skinhead friend, shows up at his party with a bunch of his fellow delinquents. Of course, the Oh, Crap! moment, and preventing Hardy from beating up Keith, was the entire point of showing up to Hardy's party in the first place.
    Duncan: (to Keith, as Keith is leaving with Amanda) We're gonna bring this party up to a nice respectable level. Don't worry, we're not gonna hurt anyone. We're not even gonna touch 'em. We're just gonna make 'em cry a little... just by lookin' at 'em.
  • One of the Boys: Watts. She's tomboyish enough for everyone to assume she just has to be a lesbian, with only male friends.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Inverted. While Duncan is named in-story, in the credits he's listed as "Skinhead" instead.
  • Open-Minded Parent: Clifford, Keith's father, is eventually revealed as one. While he has shades of Fantasy-Forbidding Father, being obsessed with sending his son to college and one that will give him a steady, white-collar job, he still in the end allows Keith go with his plans for the date and blow his money, saved for quite some time to pay the tuition. He just doesn't want his son to end up like him, working his ass off due to inadequate education, and cares for and supports the boy.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Watts tries this on Keith at one point, asking Ray to act as if she liked her. He has no problems with doing that.
  • Practice Kiss: Keith is convinced by Watts that he should kiss her for practice before he goes out with Amanda.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Watts talks a lot about her grandma, but her parents are never mentioned or seen and it's implied they are dead. However, in the novelisation, she was raised by her older brothers.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Averted; Watts manages to get the guy without having to change her tomboyish style. (She does get dressed up in the last act, by putting on a male chauffeur's uniform, not a dress.)
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Amanda lampshades this after Keith shows her his painting.
  • This Explains So Much:
    Ray: If you wanted to, you could be a that!
    Watts: Ray, this is 1987. Did you know that a girl can be whatever she wants to be?
    Ray: I know, my mom's a plumber.
    Watts: That explains a lot about you, Ray.
  • Theme Naming: Keith and Watts are both named after members of The Rolling Stones, and "Miss Amanda Jones" was the title of one of their songs.
  • Titled After the Song: Ironically, the song is never used in the movie.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Watts (the Tomboy) and Amanda (the Girly Girl) as contrasting love interests of Keith.
  • Tomboyish Name: Watts uses her last name.
  • Uptown Girl: Keith and Amanda's romance is a subversion. She comes from the same poor neighbourhood, but surrounds herself with rich people, borrowing their things and thus appears to be well-off herself.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Watts, sorta. She usually only wears t-shirts or tank tops, loose jeans or shorts. She even gets teased by other girls for wearing boxers. At the end of the movie, she wears a very fancy chauffeur's suit.
  • You Watch Too Much X: Inverted during the "kissing practice" scene:
    Watts: She'll probably do this. (puts her arms around Keith's shoulders)
    Keith: How do you know all this?
    Watts: (getting annoyed) ... I watch a lot of TV.