I’m ashamed of myself. All the hours I wasted in my adolescence watching the 1980s teen flick, “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Now, having watched it again with my 12 year old daughter, what was I thinking?
The overall problem with “Can’t Buy Me Love” is that literally every single character is drowning in depths of despicable shallowness. There’s not one redeeming character. Truly. I couldn’t stand to watch most of the film. Over and over again I asked myself what could I have been thinking? These are not likable people. Did I just repeatedly return to the film during Friday nights on HBO because I couldn’t take my eyes off actress Amanda Peterson?
Lawn mower nerd Ronald Miller (Patrick Dempsey) pays $1,000 to popular high school cheerleader, Cindi Mancini (Amanda Peterson) to be his girlfriend at the start of their senior year. The plan will be once Ronald’s reputation is established among the jocks and and preppy valley girl cheerleaders, that Cindi and Ronald will break up. Boost Ronald’s image so that he can live by that image.
It’s obvious what’s going to happen. Beware the idiot plot!!!! They fall in love but both are too stupid to realize that they have fallen for one another. So they are just cruel instead. Their friends are cruel too in their own superficialities.
I don’t find much to be proud of anymore with “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Maybe it reminds me too much of high school, which by and large I don’t look back on very fondly. High school in a film like this is all about impressing the greater mass with the car you drive or the sunglasses you wear.
John Hughes’ teen films looked at material with more substance like status quo and social class with a picture like “Pretty In Pink.” No one was trying to impress anyone with the latest trendy look. The characters stayed secure in their appearance and yet found a personality to be attracted to, not an outfit. The challenge was in keeping to yourself while stepping into territory where you didn’t feel welcome.
“Can’t Buy Me Love” adheres to the observation that “he went from totally geek to totally chic.” Thanks for spelling that out for me. I appreciated “Pretty In Pink” for a sobbing scene where the main character is embarrassed to show where she lives to the rich guy whose genuinely interested in her. There’s a consciousness to “Pretty In Pink” that “Can’t Buy Me Love” lacks.
If anything, “Can’t Buy Me Love” teaches us about The African Ant Eater Dance. So it’s got culture and diversity going for it at least.