There are spoilers…so if you haven’t seen Lady Bird, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
For a date night this weekend, we saw the movie, Lady Bird , and although I hate to sound like every other review, it really was as good as they say.
AND…if you are of a certain vintage or you have seen Pretty in Pink you may agree with my assessment that Lady Bird is a beautiful rebirth of this classic.
For the purpose of this review, I am assuming you have seen the 1986, John Hughes classic about Andy (Molly Ringwald), who is a beautifully unique girl facing her final year of high school and the need, or want to fit in.
I came away with some similarities between the two story lines. I am NOT saying there is any plagiarism here, nor am I dismissing the talented Greta Gerwig’s writing or her directorial debut. If anything, Gerwig has made her Pretty in Pink more complex and dives deeper into the intertwining relationships we have throughout our lives.
So I hope you enjoy these few examples of each film that compliment each other allowing us to enjoy both equally.
- Mother figure. Although Andy’s character doesn’t have a mother figure present, we get glimpses of the challenging relationship she has with a woman who chose to leave her and Andy’s father. We see Andy in many situations where her mother would have been the person she would be turning to for guidance, and she is literally unavailable to do so. In Lady Bird, Christine (Lady Bird) and her mother have a troubled relationship, which is the main focus of the story. Her mother is emotionally unavailable for her and there would be scenes throughout the movie where Lady Bird would turn to her and she would show no support. Both characters have a deep love for their mothers but also need to grow to understand why they are the way they are.
- Father Figure. Andy, in Pretty in Pink, has a wonderful relationship with her father. She has become more of a parent to him when his wife leaves and Andy is left to help pull him out of a deep depression. He is her emotional support even though he is an emotional wreck himself. He is lacking in drive for himself to be able fulfill his dreams but believes wholeheartedly in his daughter and he is her biggest cheerleader. Lady Bird’s dad is similar. His career did not go the way he had hoped over the years and subsequently loses his job late in his working life. He is left depressed and feeling hopeless while his wife works double shifts to keep their modest home running. He is the heart of the home, like Andy’s dad, and Lady Bird knows that he is her ally. He believes in her and understands her need to explore the world, perhaps fulfilling his need to explore that never was realized.
- The best friend. Both movies have the unwavering best friend, who by association doesn’t make them cool in the eyes of the cool people at school. Duckie, Andy’s best friend is a unique individual who can’t help but be himself, which is completely different from most at school. Andy and Duckie make fun of the ‘preppy’ kids who have money and are more popular but would love to be in their shoes for just one day. Lady Bird’s best friend is Julie. Julie, like Duckie, also is unapologetically herself. Her and Lady Bird dream of the living in the ‘rich’ area of their home town. Julie has been there for Lady Bird and likewise, through their childhood and now, as they enter adulthood. They know things will change after they graduate but their bond will not be severed because of what the future may hold. Together they have made their way through a difficult childhood and a not so popular time in high school.
- The ‘cool’ guy aka ‘the wedge’. The bonds between Andy and Duckie are tested as is the relationship between Lady Bird and Julie when the cool, popular guy shows some attention. Andy struggles between her loyalty to Duckie and her feelings for Blaine, the preppy, rich guy that finds her intriguing. She finds herself having to chose and also feels that she is never going to be good enough for Blaine because of where she lives. She is embarrassed by where she lives and the state of her home, much like Lady Bird, who lies to Kyle, one of the cool, rich guys, that she ends up crushing on. She lies to the rich, cool group just for fear that they will not like her if they knew where she lived. For both Lady Bird and Andy, their best friends are left out in the cold for the brief moment of being one of the popular kids. Duckie and Julie are forced to watch their best friends from the side lines as they forge new friendships with people they never liked before. Ultimately, they are both let down by the guys they fall for when the differences in their social status are bigger than they can deal with. Andy, however, will find that Blaine may just be one of the good guys when he redeems himself at the end (an ending I was truly never happy with).
- The Dress. Prom night means getting a great dress. For Andy, it means creating something from bought second-hand, as she had done for most of her wardrobe. She creates an original dress that, of course, is pink. Her father is in awe of her talent and beauty the night of prom. Even though her relationship with Blaine seems to have imploded at that point and her friendship with Duckie seems to be in disrepair, she goes alone to the prom. Duckie, the loyal friend, is there to walk her into the prom as they had walked through their childhoods together. Lady Bird also has prom to deal with. She and her mother buy a second had dress that her mother alters to be more ‘prom like’. Lady Bird’s family is stunned by how beautiful she looks, even her mother and normally ambivalent brother. Lady Bird gets picked up by Kyle even though at that point they would have broken up when she finds out just what he was really like. Kyle and his friends decide they are too cool to go to prom so she asks to be dropped off at Julie’s house. She finds Julie at home alone the night of the prom and their relationship rekindles when Lady Bird helps her get ready. They walk into prom and at each other’s sides, just as they had been throughout their lives so far.
So, I leave you with this….watch both….notice the similarities…notice the differences…and you will love both. Yes, one is 30 years old now, and sure, some things are dated, but Pretty in Pink lead the way for movies of its kind. Lady Bird has taken the reigns and amplified it up to 11. (again, you will get this if you are a certain vintage). Thank you Greta Gerwig for giving us a beautifully done movie that has reminded me of another film that I hold close to my heart.
Here is the trailer for Lady Bird, in case you haven’t seen it. (Although you shouldn’t have read this if you haven’t)