I don’t get it. Why title a movie with the name of a popular song only to make the movie title seem arbitrary? “Some Kind Of Wonderful” is a great rockin’ song by Grand Funk Railroad that you turn the volume up on your car radio as you leave work on Friday afternoon. “Some Kind Of Wonderful” is also the name of a movie written by John Hughes that has no meaning or relevance to the movie it’s named after. It’s as lacking in imagination as the film itself.
Why do you suppose John Hughes didn’t direct this film and left it for Howard Deutch to take over? Could it be that Hughes realized this script was nowhere near as insightful as “The Breakfast Club” or “Pretty In Pink?”
The characters are positively boring in “Some Kind Of Wonderful.” In fact they are so boring that they look bored with each other.
Eric Stoltz plays Keith. He’s a kid who avoids college discussions with his father (John Ashton) while pining over Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson), the popular girl who’s dating the popular jerk with the Corvette. We get to hear a song called “Amanda Jones” not once but THREE TIMES. Where’s the song “Some Kind Of Wonderful” though? Why not just call the film “Amanda Jones?”
Unbeknownst to Keith, his tomboy best friend Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) plays it cool, while carrying around her cool looking drumsticks, like she doesn’t love him when it couldn’t be more apparent. Keith is so unbelievably stupid that he can’t even detect the slightest crush that Watts has on him when she practices kissing him so he’ll be prepared for an upcoming date he has with Amanda. Now I’d buy this routine if Keith were at least playing dumb to Watts’ advances. However, Keith is not playing dumb. Keith is just dumb.
As a community theatre actor and playwright at times, even I follow at least a slight discipline of exploring character backgrounds. Watts and Keith are best pals yet I don’t recall one tender moment or discussion that even slightly recollects their history or friendship. “Pretty In Pink” offered plenty of moments that shaped the Molly Ringwald and Jon Cryer relationship. Not in “Some Kind Of Wonderful,” however. Every time Stoltz and Masterson meet up for a scene together it feels as if they never met each other before. They never look like they are familiar with one another and really know what makes the other tick. Are they acting with their stand in doubles?
I also was not so convinced of Keith’s attraction to Amanda. There’s nothing to this girl beyond looks. Granted, I recall having a day or even a month long crush on a number of girls in high school simply based on appearance alone; girls who never gave me the time of day. Raging hormones naturally will do that to teenage boys, but remember this is a movie. In a movie, I need to be shown why there is a crush. Not just told in a statement of dialogue.
Recently, I reviewed “Can’t Buy Me Love.” I didn’t like that film either. However, the popular girl in that film at least revealed a knack for poetry and an interest in astronomy and an old airplane graveyard. The popular girl here only opts to go out with Keith to anger her jerk of a boyfriend. I don’t know anything about Amanda from beginning to end.
Keith only paints and draws images of Amanda. A talent for art is a springboard for sweet and sincere in a John Hughes movie, but it’s all Keith ever learns about Amanda. So it’s all we ever learn about Amanda. Great! You sketched a third picture of Lea Thompson. Sorry, but I already know what Lea Thompson looks like.
The date between Keith and Amanda tries to aim for cuteness and maybe some comedy. I say maybe because I’m not sure if the cast with Hughes and Deutch are looking for laughs. But see Masterson volunteers to be the limo driver complete with the hat and uniform, and drive the lovebirds around town. A limo uniform on a character can be funny like if Kramer in “Seinfeld” did it, or if it was one of the Three Stooges. Problem here is no one in this movie sees how funny it could be. So it’s not funny. See how that works?
No one was at the wheel of this D grade fare teenage 80s flick. Beyond all that’s wrong with the story and characters and performances, ultimately again I ask, where is the song “Some Kind Of Wonderful” in the movie “Some Kind Of Wonderful?” If that doesn’t even occur to you, then I can’t have much faith the film will have any provocation of thought either, and it doesn’t.