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Some Kind Of Wonderful (Blu-ray Review)

Through a 5-film Blu-ray collection, Paramount is filling in some gaps in the John Hughes filmography on the format. One of those is the 1987 film Some Kind of Wonderful. Deemed as a response to Pretty In Pink, the film has not made the jump from DVD since it debuted in 2002 (And had a Special Edition in 2006). Conveniently enough, in this same set it is packaged with the Paramount Presents edition of Pretty In Pink that came out last year (A debut on Blu-ray itself). Luckily, thanks to that, they have a new bonus feature of Howard Deutch talking about the film. You can own the film as part of the John Hughes 5-Movie Collection (Which also has Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and She’s Having A Baby) when it arrives February 23rd. Its available for pre-order using the paid Amazon Associate’s link following the review.

Film

Keith Nelson (Eric Stoltz), an artsy high school outcast, tries to land a date with popular girl Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson) with some help from his tomboy best friend, Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson). However, his advances draw the ire of Amanda’s snobby ex-boyfriend, Hardy Jenns (Craig Sheffer), who makes plans to get even. Matters are further complicated when Watts realizes she likes Keith as more than just a friend and tries to convince him to stop pursuing Amanda.

When making Pretty In Pink, due to results and reaction to test screenings, John Hughes and Howard Deutch had to go back and reshoot the ending. Originally Molly Ringwald wound up with Duckie as played by Jon Cryer. Audiences wanted her to be latched to Andrew McCarthy as the credits rolled. In retaliation to that, he and Deutch teamed again for 1987’s Some Kind of Wonderful. The film that would pretty much run through the story of Pretty In Pink again, but this time with the ending they originally intended.

In addition to going with a different result, they’ve also gender-swapped the idea of Pretty In Pink as well. And while Mary Stuart Masterson as “Watts” is a bit less “too much” than Duckie, the problems in this movie lie across the board with the characters. Some Kind of Wonderful ditches the fun for a more straight drama approach. This is more likely to play to the strengths of the lead in Eric Stoltz, who had a reputation for struggling with coming across as “fun” in movies (Though both Quentin Tarantino and Cameron Crowe would come along and showcase that this notion was false). You DO get the Back to the Future pairing of he and Lea Thompson we never saw in 1985, which is neat. But, overall this cast is full of a bunch of unlikeable characters with decision making and actions that aren’t comfortable and lack some of the fun of youth. Only Elias Koteas as a side character brings life to most scenes and he’s supposed to be biker/punk jackass.

I can’t speak on behalf of the script, but the finished film sees a lot of shortcuts and potentially missing gap fillers that sort of hamper the above mentioned decision making and feelings on the characters.  Its also lacking in many group type scenes and feels like a lot of lonely people that only know each other at times. There’s a choppy nature to this film that scoots around on beats and pacing like a teen comedy but the drama angle doesn’t seem to benefit from that same type of structure.

Before signing off on Some Kind of Wonderful, I do need to compliment Craig Sheffer on his role in the film. The guy is deliciously awful as the jerk ex-boyfriend and protagonist tormentor in the film. He seems to be one of the few having fun in the film and he lights up any scene he’s a part of. You love to hate the guy, and you want him back in each scene just to despise him even more. Its kind of telling that my favorite character in this movie was the absolutely rotten villain, but that’s the kind of feeling I’m left with on Some Kind of Wonderful. Its not a terrible film, it just isn’t very successful in what it wants to accomplish.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  Some Kind of Wonderful debuts on Blu-ray with a pretty solid image. Specifics on the transfer have not been provided, though I’d image its a 2K transfer at best. This is a dingier and darker looking movie naturally and not one anybody would consider pretty. It keeps a stronger grain structure and has a nice good filmic clarity. Details are pretty strong and this feels like an upgrade from whatever the DVD could have produced. I’m not sure if this is the same transfer that’s on the Amazon Prime stream, but this is decent enough, though there could be improvement.

Depth:  Solid depth of field work in the image. Nothing that’s gonna blow your mind, but there are some decent scenes featuring some pushback and good sense of scale. Motion is cinematic, smooth and has no real issues regarding any motion distortions.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and carry a bit more grain when in the shadows or in the dark. Information can disappear but nothing too worrysome. Its a dark movie by nature. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  This is a rather regular looking image, but does have some pop when some of the flashier styles appear or when the grass is showcased on a sunny afternoon. Lights from cars and signs do give a bit more decently.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features and textures appear more distinct and clearer in the medium and closer up shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, German 2.0 Mono Dolby Digital, French 2.0 Mono Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, German, French

DynamicsSome Kind of Wonderful has a 5.1 TrueHD track that is pretty soft and light overall. You’ll want to turn this up as its a little delicate at your default audio. The mix itself is loose and has a good spacious balance between the music, vocals and effects. You’ll wish for it to have maybe just been a mono track or add more oompf to it.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  Very light contributions from the subwoofer. Nothing really pounds and its more soft accompaniment.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Nothing really extravagant comes from the rear channels. There is some nice ambiance and additional sounds from big parties and other loudly populated environments. Mostly this one hangs out up front.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals, like the rest of the mix are a little low, but have good clarity and diction.

Extras

Some Kind of Wonderful comes as a part of the John Hughes Collection 5-film Blu-ray set. In the set it has its own disc. A redeemable digital copy code for the movie is included in that set.

Audio Commentary

  • By Director Howard Deutch and Lea Thompson

Back To Wonderful: A Conversation With Director Howard Deutch (HD, 6:46) – Deutch opens with a story of how John Hughes locked him out of the movie because he was advised by DePalma “if you can’t cast it, don’t make it”. He talks about how Lea Thompson passed but came back to the project after Howard the Duck bombed. Deutch goes over his favorite moments, notable ones and the strengths of the actors in it.

The Making Of Some King Of Wonderful (SD, 7:46) – This making featurette comes from the DVD release and has interviews with Howard Deutch, Lea Thompson, Mary Stuart Masterson, Eric Stoltz and an archival one with John Hughes.

Meet The Cast Of Some Kind Of Wonderful (SD, 13:27) – From the same batch of VAM as the previous one, but this goes over cast and includes on set interviews from 1987 as well as the “new” ones with now include the actor who plays the sister and Molly Hagan.

John Hughes Time Capsule (SD, 10:50) – A 1986 segment where Kevin Bacon interviews John Hughes about Some Kind of Wonderful.

Summary

Some Kind of Wonderful does try to do things the other way, but isn’t too successful as a whole despite reaching its goal. This new disc has a nice Deutch interview to go with the previous bonus features which are of good interest. Image and audio quality are pretty solid and good enough in this new transfer. Definitely a nice curiosity to have included in this set.

Some Kind Of Wonderful is only available as part of the John Hughes 5-Movie Collection

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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