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Paramount Studios presents
Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

"I like art, I work in a gas station, my best friend is a tomboy. These things don't fly too well in the American high school."
- Keith Nelson (Eric Stoltz)

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: October 08, 2002

Stars: Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson, Craig Sheffer, Lea Thompson
Other Stars: John Ashton, Elias Koteas, Molly Hagan, Maddie Corman
Director: Howard Deutch

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (contains language)
Run Time: 01h:34m:31s
Release Date: August 20, 2002
UPC: 097363197942
Genre: romantic comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ A-B+B D

DVD Review

Shy, awkward Keith Nelson (Eric Stoltz) lives in the background apart from the prominent high-school cliques. Standing on the opposite end of the social spectrum is the stunning Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson)—the secret object of his affection. She dates the ultimate richboy stud of the class and hangs with a snobby group of rich girls. Keith observes her life from afar and longs for a chance to prove his mettle. His best friend Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) constantly derides his goal and rightly states its ridiculousness. A tomboy world's apart from Amanda, she is trying to save Keith from the inevitable humiliation.

Some Kind of Wonderful stands among the premier teen comedies of the 1980s. Created by the hugely successful John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles), this tale offers a prime example of what is missing from many similar releases today. The plot is a fairly simple love story and showcases the usual high-school problems with bullies and pretty girls. However, no elements here feel contrived or manipulative. The main characters possess their own aspirations and insecurities that help to create a more realistic atmosphere. Keith spends his free time working at a gas station while the rich kids frolic in expensive cars. His father (John Ashton) constantly pushes his son to use the money for college, but forgets to ask his son for his feelings on the issue. Their conflicts and particularly adult final discussion help to explain the surprising allure of this charming picture.

The primary story revolves around the big and surprising date between Keith and Amanda. Realizing that she is on the outs with the callous and arrogant Hardy Jenns (Craig Sheffer), Keith takes a chance and asks her out. Once confirmed, the infamous date becomes the talk of the entire school. Is Amanda setting Keith up for a beating from Hardy? Does he really have a chance with her? Meanwhile, Watts comes to a startling realization about her own feelings for her best friend. The events culminate at the stereotypical big party, and it once again wavers from the usual teen junk.

Much of the film's charm stems from the large group of talented young actors involved. Stoltz makes Keith's affinity for art and growing confidence easily believable by keeping everything simple. We never feel that he is trying to be an outcast teenager; it just works. Thompson brings considerable weight to the young beauty, who is not the one-dimensional character you might expect. Elias Koteas delivers a memorable performance as a friendly punk, and Ashton is impressive as the overbearing dad. All of these actors do a nice job, but the true star of the picture is Masterson. Her tough, drum-playing tomboy is perfectly understandable, especially when her turmoil increases concerning the big date.

Although it does feature silly '80s haircuts and clothing, Some Kind of Wonderful still plays well today due to its emotional resonance. Movies often make teenagers out to be complete idiots who exhibit only the most basic thoughts. Hughes' writing avoids this trend and generates an entertaining tale while giving them substance. The eventual outcome may be fairly predictable, but it remains satisfying because we are actively involved in the characters' struggles. Often packed into the mass of outdated comedies, this enjoyable story deserves another chance.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Some Kind of Wonderful appears in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that is much improved over the usual television versions. The less-defined colors easily identify the film as being from the 1980s, but that slight negative cannot be helped. The picture contains few defects, and only a few specks of grain appear intermittently. The screenplay offers few chances for visual invention, but the solid transfer is still refreshing.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: This release offers both 5.1- and 2.0-channel Dolby Surround tracks that present the dialogue in a clear and understandable manner. The more complex one spruces up the volume and gives a wider sound, but it lacks anything especially unique. The soundtrack is decent but fails to leap from the speakers like it would from the premier transfers. Everything works nicely on an overall scale, but the experience never moves beyond the typical level.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Similar to many Paramount catalog titles, Some Kind of Wonderful contains no extra features except for the usual chapter cues and English subtitles. Although this lack of supplements is not a major surprise, the inclusion of at least the theatrical trailer and cast biographies would have been more acceptable.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

Along with Cameron Crowe's Say Anything, Some Kind of Wonderful ranks among my favorite entries in the teen romance category. Much of the material transcends the usual limitations and allows the excellent actors to create memorable drama. Filled with clever one-liners and interesting conflicts, this energetic tale is highly recommended.


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