Not That Wonderful
When Keith Nelson (Eric Stoltz - Mask) decides to try and get a date with high school beauty Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson) when she dumps her cheating boyfriend Hardy Jenns (Craig Sheffer - A River Runs Through It), his best friend, tomboy Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson - Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe), suddenly realises that she doesn't just like Keith but has deeper feelings for him. But unfortunately for Watts, Keith is oblivious to her feelings as he tries his hardest to impress Amanda whilst also deal with Hardy who wants to get back at him for dating his girl.
"Some Kind of Wonderful" may have been written and produced by John Hughes but it doesn't quite feel like a John Hughes movie, that sharpness, humour and connection with the characters is missing. It's not that this is different territory for Hughes as again "Some Kind of Wonderful" is an 80s teen movie which focuses on teenage turmoil's and romance with what are typical John Hughes teenage characters. But what is different is that it is Howard Deutch directing, who had previously given us "Pretty in Pink", and I can only put it down to it not being John Hughes directing why whilst "Some Kind of Wonderful" entertains it's not that memorable.
So as pointed out the great John Hughes wrote "Some Kind of Wonderful" and so it is not so surprising that we have a storyline which deals with teenage issues. We get Keith who secretly is in love with High School beauty Amanda Jones whilst his best friend, Watts, realises she is in love with him and becomes jealous when he tries to romance Amanda. Add to that mix Amanda's shallow, womanizing boyfriend who she catches cheating on him and to be honest we have the basis of a very typical teenage drama. And as such we have this romantic drama play out as Keith is blinkered by the chance to date Amanda and doesn't see that his true love, Watts, is staring him right in the face all along.
To add to the typical John Hughes feel we get extra elements such as Keith coming from a working class background whilst Amanda hangs out with rich kids. Watt's is a quirky character whose family is pretty much absent and we have Amanda's rich boyfriend who is arrogant and a bully. Basically all the elements of a typical 80s teen drama are present and it makes it feel like we've seen "Some Kind of Wonderful" before in one form or another.
Now the familiarity wouldn't be an issue if "Some Kind of Wonderful" gave us something which stands out, an original character or twist on the expected but it never materialises. It's not like it doesn't try as there is humour which flows throughout although the humour is so familiar it ends up not being either funny or memorable. And there are big romantic gestures as Keith tries to impress Amanda on a date she will never forget and whilst okay only one really stands out. But it just feels like it's not very sharp, as if director Deutch struggled with making the humour and romance really sparkle.
Part of this issue is down to it being familiar and that familiarity extends to the characters which with the exception of Mary Stuart Masterson who is loveable as Watts are all rather ordinary. Ordinary doesn't mean that the performances are bad as Eric Stoltz is solid as nice guy Keith whilst Lea Thompson is beautiful as Amanda Jones. And whilst the character of Hardy Jenns borders on being a bit over the top Craig Sheffer at least comes across as being alive. Ironically it is a small part for Elias Koteas as the high school skinhead which ends up being most memorable as at least he delivers a few laughs.
What this all boils down to is that "Some Kind of Wonderful" is an entertaining 80s teen drama but not an overly memorable one. And it's not memorable because it's all too familiar be it the characters, storyline or the humour.