One of the great things about going to high school in the 80's was the wonderful teen flicks we had back then. "Can't Buy Me Love" is one that has stood the test of time fairly well with its universal message. Set in the Arizona suburbs and mostly shot at Tuscon High School this film has a warm original look to it that I really like and fits well with the content and storyline. The message in this film is certainly nothing new but it presents it in a fresh original way that helps it stand the test of time.
This is the story of Ronald Miller (Patrick Dempsey) and his neighbor, Cindy Mancini (Amanda Peterson), who both happen to attend the same high school but socialize on opposite ends of the social ladder. Ronald, the kid from the geek crowd tries to buy his way into the popular clique by paying Cindy to pretend she likes him. He turns away from his geek buddies and discovers his own power to exist within the popular crowds at school simply by association. He even goes so far as to hurt his friends in order to continue to run with the cool kids. There is a particularly poignant moment between Ronald and his friend Kenneth in the arcade when he tries to work things out after seriously damaging their friendship in his rise to popularity.
Its a light hearted look at how young people are introduced into society and into their own identity. Fitting in with your peers and gaining social acceptance in the sensitive years of our youth is something we all go through so its easy to find something in this film to identify with. Ronald gets so popular in fact that he begins to have a strong influence on the popular crowd even getting them to do things they wouldnt otherwise do. Once Ronald and Cindy end their 'fake' relationship, Ronald continues his status as most popular while Cindy wonders what kind of monster she has created. Once the popular crowd discovers how Ronald bought his way into their crowd they immediately send him back to the "minor leagues".
I particularly like the journey that Cindy Mancini goes through in this film. She learns a great deal about what is valuable and how popularity isnt all its cracked up to be. Disovering herself, her own identity and whats really important in interpersonal relationships and how its easy to act like someone else to impress others when in fact they only like you for your 'act' and not for who you really are. There exists a romantic connection between the two of them that they didnt expect and this really helps drive the film to its heart-warming conclusion. I am always touched by the riding of the lawn mower into the sunset at the end - call me a romantic.
While the performances arent stellar, they do hold up and provide a nice group of characters that are likeable and easy to identify with. Of particular note and in one of his earliest parts, Seth Green is wonderful as Chucky, the psychotic twisted younger brother.
This film plays frequently on TV and I doubt many people have missed it. It should be required viewing for young kids in school going through some of these same issues.
VIDEO: Presented in Full Screen 1.33:1 aspect ratio, the film looks clear and vibrant with a slight amount of edge enhancement noticeable only in a few places. Overall its a nice transfer but I may be so used to seeing it on the TV that any version looks fantastic in comparison. Of course it would also be nice to have a letterboxed version, but for this Disc we are forced to view it under the chopped and edited Pan & Scan format (Booo Touchstone!)
AUDIO: This film certainly doesnt require much in the audio department. Its 2 channel dolby with the option for captions, but no alternate language tracks.
EXTRAS: Only a preview of the movie "Beaches"
MENUS: Simple non-animated and a bit annoying as there arent any "return to main menu" buttons in the chapters screen and set-up screen.
Final Thought:I like this film, but the lack of extras combined with Pan & Scan leans me towards a recomendation to rent it.