Written by: Jaime Kawamoto, special to CC2K
But Should Run Out and Rent Right Now!!
Recently, I was out having a drink with some girlfriends and talk came around, as it always does, to Dirty Dancing. To my horror, the wistful 19 year old baby (pun intended) of the group had never seen it. As Patrick Swayze’s self-proclaimed biggest fan I immediately went on the attack. How does a girl make it through her teen years without ever watching Baby carry that watermelon? From there, we discovered the youngling had also been deprived of almost every movie of consequence for a teenage girl. You know, the ones that gave you hope someone as grungy as Judd Nelson would offer you a toke? Or that the cute guy with the Jack Nicholson eyebrows would “accidentally” spike your best friend’s Diet Coke with Drano? These movies gave me hope. They gave me help. They gave me guys to dream about who were too manly to go by three names (yes, I’m calling out on you Chad Michael Murray!). This list is for all you minors who’ve never heard of John Hughes. It’s also for you grown-up ladies to pass on to a niece or goddaughter or any girl in need of a little heart mending.
1. Dirty Dancing – It was the summer of ’63 when everyone called her baby and it didn’t occur to her to mind. Jennifer Grey made uncontrollable hair and her real nose the envy of every breathing female on the planet as the intrepid teenager Baby, on vacation with her parents at a posh Catskills’ resort. Swayze’s dance instructor Johnny swivel-hips his way into her heart as he teaches her how to move on and off the dance floor. I watched over and over as a brainy girl (just like me!) managed to win the guy without losing her dignity. Please don’t be frightened off by the scary plastic surgery disaster that is the modern day Swayze or, for that matter, the scary plastic surgery disaster that is the modern day Jennifer Grey. Once upon a time they were able to make facial expressions.
2. The Breakfast Club – A Brain. An Athlete. A Basket Case. A Princess. And a Criminal. These four stereotypes meet in the coolest high school detention ever. They find out they aren’t so different after all. Sounds cliché but Judd Nelson is so intense and so badass I couldn’t walk past a janitor’s closet without imaging he was jamming his tongue down my throat.
3. Heathers – Winona Ryder is a Veronica in a high school world where the bitchy Heathers rule. She rebels against the clique system by taking up with new psychopath on the block Christian Slater. Things spiral out of control in this dank, dark comedy. Slater has the Jack Nicholson thing down pat. Winona is everything I ever wished I could be: confident, smart, beautiful and completely the hero in the end. (Although photographic evidence in my yearbook suggests I went through a red bow in my hair phase).
4. Lucas – In this one, Kerri Green is a cheerleader with a soft spot for nerdy Lucas (played by Corey Haim – who was it that ever thought this guy was hot?). She struggles with Lucas’ crush and her own feelings for hunky football captain Charlie Sheen. I love this movie because it’s so realistic. The pretty new girl becomes popular and falls for the popular guy. The king of the geeks doesn’t get a cool makeover and ends up with the geek queen. It’s a lot like what actually happened in my high school.
5. Pump up the Volume – Talk hard. Boy did I ever want Christian Slater to do that to me, whatever the hell it means. This is one of those movies where the quiet nerd is actually pretty cool but not in a cloying way. Samantha Mathis was so fearless, by the end of the movie I felt less afraid to be different. It sounds cheesy but I found this movie inspiring when I was 16.
6. Pretty in Pink – I have to include this Molly Ringwald movie about a girl from the wrong side of the tracks and the “richie” she falls for simply because I still scream “What about prom?” when I’m mad at my boyfriend.
7. Beverly Hills 90210 Seasons 1-3 – I know it’s not a movie but now that it’s slowly rolling out on DVD it has to be on this list. I was depressed for days after Brenda and Dylan broke up the first time. I limit the viewing to the first three seasons because those are the Brenda/Dylan years and nothing was ever as exciting once they were through. When my best friend and I fell for the same guy and lived out the Brenda/Dylan/Kelly love triangle I knew how it would end as I was clearly Brenda. The show helped me get it through my head that life is rarely fair when you’re a teenager.
Some of you are going to be angry I left out such classics as Say Anything … or Sixteen Candles. I thought it was stupid that Michael Schoeffling went to all that trouble to find Molly Ringwald, a girl he didn’t even know who acted like an idiot every time she saw him. I also thought John Cusack wasn’t good enough for Ione Skye. Besides, how many girls want to end up with their high school boyfriend? Sacrilegious, I know, but this is my list and I’m sticking to it. Make up your own. Pass it along. And remember, nobody puts Baby in the corner.