‘Can’t Buy Me Love’

Before girls oohed and aaahed over Patrick Dempsey on “Grey’s Anatomy” or enjoyed him in small roles in great films like “Outbreak” (shot on Kaua‘i) or the superb, tear-jerking and grossly under-rated “With Honors” (Joe Pesci), Dempsey scored his big screen break in “Can’t Buy me Love.”

Yes, the ‘80s movie that on the surface was a tale of the loser who wants the cheerleader, but it was truly a film about being yourself.

To be quite honest, although it has a special place in the teenage romantic comedy genre, “Can’t Buy Me Love” is often overshadowed by its predecessors, “The Breakfast Club” or “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” which are both John Hughes classics. I truly believe no movie captured the essence of being a teenager with as much depth and insight as “The Breakfast Club” did.

“Can’t buy me Love” is the quirky tale of a geeky boy (Dempsey) who longs for the affection of the head cheerleader. OK, feel free to say “heard it” in your mind, but this film takes a new spin. Ronald Miller (Dempsey) decides he’s going to pay the girl of his dreams to date him, convinced this will make him popular.

But will it? The movie asks the question: Is the grass greener? Do we need to appreciate our friends and who we are? It’s pure humanity, hidden under what many consider an ‘80s cheeseball genre film.

But this is what I enjoyed about the movie. I first saw it at age 7 and had no idea what it was about. I liked that there were pretty girls. That’s about all I can remember. As I watched it in high school, I related to the character’s insecurities.

At the time, Dempsey was known for a string of completely unforgettable flicks like “Meatballs 3,” “Lover-Boy” and I can’t even think of another one. I only remember “Lover-Boy” because he played a pizza delivery boy and my parents had a pizza shop.

I think this film is important, because like all of life, the circles never stop. I’m willing to admit as adults in the dating scene, we’re left wondering if we’re good enough. I mean, every single guy can relate that at some point, there was a girl out there they liked, and the girl didn’t know they existed. This film is for that guy.

The film also holds some sweet lessons for the female viewer. It’s about doing what’s right for you and not following the crowd.

I recommend this film as a great date-night at home movie. It won’t change your life. It’s not “American Beauty” (Kevin Spacey). Even if you just want a kick out of seeing TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy” as a pip-squeak teenage boy, check it out. You won’t be let down. The film also holds a classic dance sequence that anyone ages 30 to 35 will remember and even knows how to do. Come on, you know you know “The African…”

Starring: Patrick Dempsey, Amanda Peterson

Genre: ‘80s Cheese

If you like: check out “Sixteen Candles”

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