Sixteen Candles (1984)

(On TV, August 2017) In retrospect, it may have been a mistake to watch Sixteen Candles the day after Pretty in Pink—while the two films are different, there are enough points in common between those two Molly Ringwald-starring, John Hugues-scripted teenage romantic comedies to blur the edges between the two. Sixteen Candles, to its credit, does have a better premise—what if, in the hustle and bustle of a big wedding, the sixteenth birthday of the younger sister was completely forgotten? Much of the rest of the picture is conventional high school romantic comedy stuff, but the concept is clever and allows the action to be packed within a short period of time without feeling unnatural. To its distinction (shared with other Hughes scripts), Sixteen Candles is suggestive without being raunchy, and treats its teenage characters like full persons rather than archetypes. It’s far more respectable than other teen movies, although it doesn’t escape frowns for some terrible Asian stereotyping and a sequence with a drunk girl that would have nearly everyone justifiably pulling their hair in outrage today. Ringwald, once again, makes for a uniquely appealing teenage heroine, while Anthony Michael Hall is curiously likable in a potentially grating role. Pay attention, and you will see Joan and John Cusack show up in small roles. Sixteen Candles wraps up in a very likable fashion and while it’s not a particularly profound film, it skillfully made with enough charm to satisfy. But then again I’m not exactly the target audience for the film any more.

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