The John Hughes Switch-a-Roo
Duckie Dale Gets a Piece of Cloaca
April 12, 2004
I've always had a thing for Duckie Dale. Yes - the Duckman. John Cryer's alter ego.
The one demon he will battle until stroke or Robitussin overdose take him home to
his maker, our lord and savior John Hughes. As Bueller is to Broderick, Duckie
is to Cryer. (Did I miss that one on my SAT?)
I have pleaded, begged and prostrated myself before my un-amused boyfriend. "Please
PLEASE, let me dress you like Duckie just this once. Come on- it will be great! And
I promise it won't threaten your sexual identity as a hetero male."
He's no fun at all sometimes.
Something about the squirrelly little freak brings out my maternal side. When I
find a willing participant, I shall set forth to create a living canvas of
desperation in snakeskin shoes; his greasy ducktail encircled with an eager nimbus
of naiveté and a dash of kitsch (ducktail...Duckie...pure brilliance).
This final realization of the perfect Duckie-who-isn't-Duckie is my golden castle
in the clouds: appearing for an instant to taunt me with its beauty and then --
poof! -- all is dark.
When I eventually do wrangle myself a Duckie, I will march him to my favorite thrift
store and select the best Duckie outfit the by-the-pound bin can offer.
- Fedora: check.
- Plaid sports coat with pocket hanky: check.
- Scrunch tube socks & Chuck Taylors: check.
- Bolo tie: money.
Andie definitely missed the boat with Phil "Duckie" Dale. She was too busy making
out with Blane in a horse stall (ew) to notice that all the man she ever needed
was riding his bike by her house 50 times a day. They are both social rejects who
coordinate their outfits. What's her problem? I know the 80s are back for
revenge...but please tell me we won't have to endure the hat thing again.
Andie: What are you wearing?
Duckie: I think I'll work the bolo tie, rolled to the elbow street urchin look today.
Andie: Do you think my brooch looks good with this hat?
Duckie: Yeah it's great. Now when are you going to show me that vagina of yours?
Duckie as the endearing stalker appeals to any of us who have ever secretly been
in love with our best friend. He hangs out with Andie's apathetic dad whose only
item of clothing appears to be a bathrobe. He set off the fire alarm at Trax,
the uber hip used record store where she works and first makes kissy eyes with
Blane. He even lays one on Annie Potts in attempt to draw Andie's attention.
Undoubtedly Duckie is pathetic. Did they have to go so far as to depict his living
situation as a naked mattress and graffiti? It looks like he's hunkered down in
a cave under the freeway off-ramp. Message received: Duckie is poor and weird
and no one will ever love him. But wait...
I think that Duckie was simply in the wrong John Hughes movie at the wrong time.
If all stood right with the world, he already would have sired several children
with Watts (Mary Stuart blah blah blah) from Some Kind of Wonderful. Evidently
John Hughes didn't get enough of the parent-less misunderstood misfit living in
a shack down by the river the first time around; he had to create Duckie's female
counterpart a year later. Or perhaps his conscience got the better of him after
letting Andie wind up with that rich douchebag instead of the Duckman. Either way,
Hughes simply equips the reject kid with a different signature accessory: drumsticks
now replace the Duckmobile. (Drumsticks, man, because Watts is such a badass
rocker. Or a lesbian. She even wears gloves with the fingers cut off. Oh,
Having said that, Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful are the same movie. Did
he think we weren't paying attention?? They even have near identical posters: an
unhappy threesome, brooding, arms folded in the international "I am no longer receptive
to this situation. Please do not fuck with me." The tagline on SKOW reads: "Before
they could stand together, they had to stand alone." The marketing people at Paramount
took the "finding oneself" inner struggle a little too far. Let's keep in mind that
we're talking about a high school love triangle here and not WWI trench warfare. I'm
also somewhat put off by the fact that Eric Stoltz looks like a JC Penney mannequin.
Please recall that this was the same year Andrew McCarthy starred with Kim Cattrall in
Mannequin the movie. I doubt such things to be mere coincidence. At least
he had the wherewithal not to participate in the follow-up: Mannequin 2: On the Move.
We can't say the same for Hollywood Montrose, the poor bastard.
I'm assuming there are a few of you who don't watch these films every time they're
on USA and might benefit from a light refresher course. If you've never seen them
at all, don't waste your time, my time or Mr. Hand's time. Allow me to dish a bit
of back story. We have our respective heroes: Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) and
Keith Nelson (Eric Stoltz) who, in addition to wanting to date "up" in the social
strata, only seemed to have one friend -- a friend we've already met: the token freak who
lives in a garage, secretly pining away for said hero. The grubby seamstress and
grubby mechanic that play parallel mentors both have that unfortunate red hair that makes me feel sorry for
the hand that genetics dealt them.
Next we have the Objects of Desire: Blane McDonnagh (Andrew McCarthy) and Amanda
Jones (Lea Thompson). The Miss Amanda Jones song has been lodged in my head ever
since I started writing this thing. Get out, dammit! Cease your torment!
The Andrew McCarthy Modus Operandi:
Whatever his character, he's always got that look on his face. You know. In addition
to needing an Ex-Lax, he also appears to have recently vomited up bad seafood.
- Get script.
- Learn part.
- Be bug-eyed, constipated and neurotic.
- Drink heavily.
Lea just wants to fuck the popular boys.
Finally, enter our bloated-faced villains who, on a daily basis, don white dinner
jackets and slip-on loafers to spend their time smoking in the school stairwell
and interacting with "trash." Meet Steff (James Spader) & Hardy Jenns (Some
Guy No One Cares About). These guys do -- gasp! -- cocaine. I think the same
rich-kid mansion was used over and over in all Hughes movies: be it belonging
to Steff, Hardy or even Jake Ryan. Each house has that fake half timbre exterior
and an interior filled with mahogany bedroom sets. Cause baby, carved hardwood + coke = luxury.
In short, Duckie/Watts is in love with Andie/Keith who lusts for Blane/Amanda.
Duckie/Watts has to listen to Andie/Keith drone on and on about Blane/Amanda, which
drives Duckie/Watts insane with jealousy. Meanwhile Steff/Hardy is the rich asshole
friend/ex-boyfriend who aims to bring Andie/Keith down and punt them back to their
side of the tracks. Andie/Blane and Keith/Amanda hook up. Only difference:
Andie/Blane break up, reconcile and then live happily ever after at the prom,
leaving Duckie screwed and alone. Meanwhile, Keith/Amanda were not meant to be;
as Amanda forced him to see that it was about Watts all along. I was so surprised. That
Watts liked boys, I mean.
Ok, ok - I know there's that weak part at the end where Duckie is suddenly getting
the eye from that girl at the prom. I'm all for him, but this ending SUCKS. He
should have either ended up with Andie or slowly withered away in his bunker - don't
patronize me with a neatly packaged conclusion at the last minute. I want pain. I
want suffering. I want this movie to bleed truth. Besides...you can't really tell
me that the chick looked at his prom ensem and actually wanted him. I guess this
speaks of the power Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark can wield over a girl.
In an alternate universe (mine, yours?), Duckie gets his girl; the right girl, not
some sympathy-fuck in turquoise taffeta. Did people really go to the prom alone
in order to pick someone up? I guess my high school wasn't as big as theirs -- there
weren't going to be any undiscovered diamonds in the rough popping up on the dance
floor. Meeting someone at senior prom would have been the last thing on my list,
as all I wanted was to leave that sink hole behind forever. Moreover, I was too
interested in getting high in my friend's van to notice any potential suitors.
In closing, I would like to send out a long distance dedication to Duckie. Duckie,
wherever you are, this one's for you:
I touch you once, I touch you twice
I won't let go at any price
I need you now like I needed you then
You always said we'd still be friends someday
PS: Stay tuned, as I have received verbal confirmation from a friend that he will
undergo the Duckie transformation. I reserve the right to not name names, but you
know who you are. Consider yourself served.