Some nights, there’s nothing better than a double feature. You can settle in on the couch, order a giant pizza (I actually have a one-large-pizza-per-person rule, but we can’t all be champions), make some buttery rainbow-colored popcorn and know that there’s nowhere else you need to be. This week’s double feature has a very special theme: the very special Patrick Dempsey.
Can’t Buy Me Love
Oh, what a classic. Those of you who are familiar with my taste in movies know that this flick is a member of my favorite genre, Two People Pretending to Be in Love Fall in Love. Here’s what you need to know: Patrick Dempsey is dweeb supreme Ronnie Miller. (By the way, has anyone on earth personified the concept of “growing into his looks” better than this man?) It’s the beginning of senior year, he’s been mowing lawns all summer to save up for a TELESCOPE and he has a serious and unrequited crush on the hottest girl in school, Cindy Mancini. Cindy, meanwhile, barely knows he’s alive. She has her own problems to worry about – a boyfriend who seems to have forgotten about her now that he’s in college, and a mom who’s too busy dating to pay her much attention. Cindy cheers herself up by borrowing her mom’s brand new white suede outfit (how deliciously ’80s can you get?) without permission. Cue red wine. And what do you know, to replace the outfit she needs $1000 – just about the cost of that brand new telescope Ronnie’s been eyeing. So a deal is struck: Cindy hangs out with Ronnie long enough to “make him cool” and he’ll give her the money for the outfit. I won’t spell it all out for you, but let’s just say there’s an impressively succinct makeover, several rockin’ party scenes, uber-romantic stargazing and dance sequences choreographed by Paula Abdul.
This lesser-known gem is actually one of my favorite ’80s movies. In a remarkable show of versatility, Patrick plays Randy, a slacker-punk as opposed to a dweeb or, say, a sexy surgeon. After a particularly egregious display of immaturity, his girlfriend breaks up with him and his dad, tired of Randy’s hijinks, refuses to pay for college anymore. Randy moves home and takes a job as a pizza delivery boy. One of his first deliveries is to a sexy older woman who quickly seduces him into a passionate affair. She recommends him to all of her kindred hot-older-woman friends (allowing for brilliant cameos by Carrie Fisher and Kirstie Alley) and soon Randy is the most popular delivery boy in town. But wouldn’t you know it, there’s more to his awakening than sex – he actually starts to grow up. Not all of his clients want to do him; as Randy eloquently puts it, most of these women just want someone to talk to. And by the time his new business venture inevitably blows up in his face, he’s a changed man. This movie works on several levels: it’s perfectly structured, it’s legitimately funny and charming (mostly thanks to Dempsey who somehow convinces us that not only is it not sleazy to sleep with all these women but in fact he’s honorably doing it in order to win his girlfriend back) and it’s just the right combination of comfortably familiar and yet unpredictable. You will want to order a pizza with extra anchovies when you watch this one. Trust me on that.
Both of these movies are available (sadly in DVD form only) from Netflix, or you can be super awesome and buy them here. I mean, it would be weird if you didn’t want to own four hours of practically-pre-natal Patrick Dempsey.