Can't Buy Me Love
Reviewed by Tom Panarese
Rating: 7 Beans
ím a big fan of 1980s teen clique movies, mainly because I believe they should be shown in high schools throughout the country. I mean, we could update health and social education curriculum (which right now is outdated 1970s filmstrips) with movies like The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink, and one of my favorites on the subject of popularity and dating, Canít Buy Me Love.
Obvious jokes about how the movieís entire budget went to getting the rights to the Beatlesí song aside, the movieís plot is pretty simple. Cindy Mancini (Amanda Peterson), the beautiful blonde cheerleader, has a problem-- she's ruined her motherís really expensive (albeit really tacky) suede outfit. The solution? Ronald Miller (Patrick Dempsey), who is so obsessed with popularity that gives her the $1,000 she needs to buy a new suede outfit ... if sheíll pretend to go out with him for a month. Seeing no other way out of her predicament, she accepts.
And hijinks ensue.
Okay, it's not that simple, but the movie is pretty predictable. Cindyís cold to Ronald and their deal at first, but then she really begins to like him. However, he goes ahead and ďbreaks upĒ with her so he can go after all her trashy friends (while alienating all the geeks he used to go with). If you canít figure out the ending (insert spoiler alert here), itís pretty easy. Ronald gets found out, becomes even more of an outcast then he was, but ultimately regains respect and the girl.
Canít Buy Me Love is both entertaining and educational. In fact, it's like a full day at high school in just 90 minutes! Thereís economics (the movie itself is a cost-benefit analysis of trying to buy popularity); literary theory (itís dripping with irony--Cindy, the perfect cheerleader is really a bad-poetry-writing tortured soul and when she begins to like Ronald, he is too obsessed with his new popularity to notice ... just like she never noticed him!!!); history (the pastel colors and synth-pop music are a great window into the late-1980s, and when was the last time you saw a Billy Idol RECORD being played at a party?); culture (Ronald teaches everyone the African Anteater Ritual); and Seth Green (okay, thatís not educational, but itís worth the rental price). Ultimately, it teaches us that itís okay to be an outcast because everyone in his own way is not only an outcast, but is also ... dare I say it ... human.
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