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The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Student news without fear or favor

Back to the 80s: ‘Some kind of wonderful’

A slow burn film that turns friends to lovers
Alyssa Branum
The movie poster of “Some Kind of Wonderful” which is a romantic film starring Lea Thompson, Mary Stuart Masterson and Eric Stoltz. (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures and graphic created in Canva by Alyssa Branum)

The 1987 film “Some Kind of Wonderful” starring Lea Thompson, Mary Stuart Masterson and Eric Stoltz is a slow-burn romance that in 2024, viewers won’t have the patience to enjoy.

The film follows social outcast Keith Nelson and his tomboy best friend Watts, played by Stoltz and Masterson, as they navigate the complicated world of high school drama and desire to climb the social ladder.


Like all predictable 80s films, this one will leave viewers in anticipation of will they or won’t they suspense. The love triangle between Keith, Watts and Amanda Jones, played by Thompson, is probably the only redeeming angle to this romantic film.

The concept of Keith and his desperate desire to fit in, is portrayed through his unyielding lust toward popular and mysterious girl Amanda.

Amanda is not as rich and fancy as she wants people to believe. She lives in the working-class part of town and has to borrow all of her expensive clothes and accessories from her judgy and snobby friends.

A common theme within 80s films is the prominent presence of distinct social classes. Films such as “The Breakfast Club” and “Pretty in Pink” are examples of this theme of unwavering social class and presence.

This timeworn subject feels forced in the film because it focuses more on the themes of young-love and innocence that make very little explanation or reference to social class diversity and desire.

Due to the strong presence of Amanda’s desire to fit in and her strong connections to popularity, the possibility of dating Keith seems almost impossible. But when her star-studded and big headed boyfriend Hardy Jenns, played by Craig Sheffer, dumps her, Amanda and Keith soon become a possibility.

Before their split Hardy and Amanda were the school’s it-couple. As far as anyone could tell they were perfect, but behind closed doors Hardy was possessive, rude and a cheater. But despite all those things, Amanda’s need to be popular outweighed all of Hardy’s cons.

Toxic masculinity is another unfortunate theme repeated throughout 80s films. This is repeated over and over again throughout the decade in films such as “Urban Cowboy” and “Flashdance.” Although Amanda is a victim of Hardy’s possessive control when she finally begins to explore life on her own, she begins to realize the freedom she could have had.

RELATED: Back to the 80s: ‘Lost boys’

As Keith runs around school trying to catch the now single Amanda’s attention, he begins to neglect his pessimistic and jealous friend Watts.

Watts has to be, hands downs, the best character in this entire film. Her spunky pixie hair cut, spunky attitude and red fingerless gloves make her anything but basic in this slow and tiresome film. Unfortunately, her spunky and care-free attitude is sadly washed out by her own childhood crush on Keith.

Although the two are best friends and extremely close, it appears Keith is blinded to Watt’s beauty and charm as he doesn’t not show an ounce of affection towards her.

This 90 minute film is one that feels very slow and hard to get into because of its heavy handed context and background building. Viewers will enjoy learning new aspects to the characters, such as Keith’s love for art and Watts’s master drum skills, but the real excitement doesn’t truly happen till the end when Amanda finally agrees to a date with Keith.

Talk about desperate, Keith, a highschool student who during his free-time works in a garage fixing and building cars, uses his entire college fund to create the best date for his school-crush, while also creating a sketched portrait of her as well.

He gets Watts to be their personal driver, sets up a romantic unveiling of his own artwork he made of her, buys Amanda diamond earrings and takes her to one of the most expensive restaurants in town. Wanting to impress her so badly Keith pulls out all the stops, including having Watts teach him how to kiss.

Keith Nelson (Eric Stoltz) and Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) practicing how to kiss for Keith’s big date. The relationship between Watts and Keith is one to leave viewers reeling in anticipation. (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

The relationship between Keith and Watts is one of the main plots of the film that gets very little screen time, compared to the Amanda and Keith storyline. This makes for the friendship and intimate scenes between Keith and Watts to feel forced and anticlimactic.

As the main relationship of the film, you would think the build up to Keith and Watt’s car-shop make-out would be one of complete and utter anticipation, but the scene comes off as kind of uncomfortable and coerced for the plot. In fact, Watt’s entire crush on Keith feels off-putting.

That is the main problem with slow burn movies, especially in the romance genre. The need for building context and anticipation is so heightened that the climax and oftentimes the real story feels rushed and ignored.

The film mostly captures the blooming relationship between Amanda and Keith, but in the end Keith chooses Watts.

Keith Nelson (Eric Stoltz) and Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson) on their first date. Keith pulls out all the stops including an expensive dinner, showcases a painting he made of Amanda and gives her real diamond earrings, on their first date. (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

The love story between Watts and Keith is worth the wait though because of how out of the blue and cute it is. For most of the film it seems Watts is way too cool and actually out of Keith’s league, but once the two share their intimate kiss in the auto shop garage, the love story flips and fans are anxiously waiting for Keith to make the right choice and end up with Watts.

Despite its substantial plot holes and storytelling “Some Kind of Wonderful” is a feel good love story that, no matter the decade, will still have fans reeling with adoration for young-love and excitement. The love trope of friends to lovers is one that has forever been worth the hype as the happy-ending is always worth the wait.

This is the main downfall to the romantic genre and why “Some Kind of Wonderful” is considered a niche and often forgotten film. It deserves more recognition, but also a large amount of patience.

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Katelyn Marano
Katelyn Marano, Copy Editor
(she/her) Katelyn Marano is a graduating senior with a major in journalism and a minor in English. She is currently in her second semester here at The State Hornet and is the copy editor for the spring 2024 semester. Katelyn enjoys reading and writing, and hope to take her degree into book publishing.
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