Molly Ringwald: Except Sometimes

Yes, that Molly Ringwald. Her debut album, Except Sometimes, was released in April. It’s taken me this long to review it, because I’ve wanted to like it so much more than I actually do. I’ve always loved just about anything Molly Ringwald does – from her Pretty in Pink acting years to her successful transformation into an author – so I wish I could say I love her album, but my feelings remain very mixed.

Molly doesn’t have the strongest voice, but it has a pleasant enough tone well suited to what I would call parlour jazz. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this album for jazz purists — jazz fanatic Brendan, for one, couldn’t stand it.

Let’s get the bad out of the way first. Molly’s voice simply lacks the heat necessary for the sultry opener “Sooner Or Later,” particularly if you’ve heard the Madonna version. And “I Believe In You” is so irksome and bland I can’t help but feel “a rose by any other name” could not have gotten this record deal.

Yet there is plenty of good to be found here. I really like the sweet, melancholy tone she takes on in “I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes).” “The Very Thought Of You” and “Where Is Love?” also fit Molly’s voice like a glove.

That’s really how the entire album goes: lovely ballads alternating with not-so-lovely, uptempo missteps. I’m sure Molly Ringwald is used to her name opening doors for her only to suffer harsher criticism than an unknown talent would, but I really don’t think that’s the case here.

The great news is the album is worth purchasing solely for her stripped down, jazz ballad cover of “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” – the Simple Minds hit from The Breakfast Club soundtrack. That final track makes me think Molly would be much better off doing an album of pop hits transformed into jazz songs rather than an album of jazz standards such as this one. You can hear Molly sing portions of the song and talk about the inspiration (namely, John Hughes) for recording it in the video below…

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Molly Ringwald Official Site

Molly Ringwald: When It Happens To You

Guest Post By: Brendan

I expected When It Happens To You to be good… for Molly Ringwald, but thought that perhaps from another author it might be considered a disappointment. I was wrong. This is a remarkable work of fiction with glimpses of brilliance.

The work is described as a collection of interlinked stories, but it felt like a novel to me. When It Happens To You is the story of a disintegrating marriage, of betrayal and hope, only briefly touching on the lives of some who interact with the central couple.

The virtuosity of the title segment, which serves as a centerpiece for the book, is at times breathtaking. Here’s a sample…

When it happens to you, you will ask him why he would choose to forsake this good, sweet life that you carefully built together for a girl who couldn’t begin to understand him, and then you’ll realize that is partially the point. He doesn’t want to be understood. He wants to be misunderstood because in the misunderstanding lies the possibility of reinvention.

When It Happens To You is the most pleasant literary surprise of the year.

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The John Hughes Legacy

Regular readers know that I rarely post about the lives and deaths of celebrities here. But I was sad to hear that writer-director John Hughes died yesterday of a heart attack. I don’t know much, if anything, about the man himself. But I am one of many whose memories are bound up in his films, some of which I consider to be just as classic as Casablanca or The Wizard of Oz. While my generation and older folks are well acquainted with his work, I thought I’d give a brief summary of my favorite Hughes films for the younger crowd…

The name John Hughes is pretty much synonymous with the term “Brat Pack” and the name Molly Ringwald. Ringwald starred in what were probably the most famous and beloved of Hughes’ films: Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, and The Breakfast Club.

Sixteen Candles – in which Molly plays a teenage girl whose parents forget her birthday – is my least favorite of the trilogy. It’s funny and quotable (“Auto-mo-bile”, “I can’t believe my grandma actually felt me up”), but lacks the emotional impact of the other two Ringwald movies.

Pretty in Pink is the sappy one. Molly plays a poor, artistic outcast who falls for a rich kid (Andrew McCarthy). However, it is not this central romantic plot that made the movie so memorable. Rather it was the adorable, quirky, Otis Redding lip-syncing, unrequited loving sidekick character Ducky (Jon Cryer) that burned the film into so many of our hearts.

Despite my undying love of Ducky, it is The Breakfast Club that remains my favorite John Hughes movie, is one of my favorite films of all time, and truly deserves to be called a classic. The movie throws five stereotypical high school students (“a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal”) together for one Saturday in detention. It is even more hilarious and quotable than Hughes’ other movies, but is also at times painfully realistic in depicting the various social classes (and clashes) in American high schools. Though the archetypes portrayed in the film are too general to represent every individual, most of us can relate to at least one of the characters. It also features one of my favorite movie quotes: “It’s sorta social. Demented and sad, but social.”

Hughes also wrote one of my other favorite films of the 1980s, Some Kind of Wonderful. I and many others felt that Hughes righted a certain Pretty in Pink wrong with the ending of Some Kind of Wonderful. Like Pretty in Pink, the movie involves a poor kid (Eric Stoltz) pining for a rich one (Lea Thompson) and the most interesting character is the protagonist’s sidekick, spunky tomboy Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson). Watts inspired me to coin the term “best friend girl” to describe any supporting character who is tragically overlooked by their beloved in favor of a less worthy object of affection – this term applies to girls (Joey on Dawson’s Creek, Willow on Buffy) and guys (Ducky, Brian on My So-Called Life). But my personal favorite part of this particular film was Duncan (Elias Koteas), the skinhead with a heart of gold.

Other ’80s flicks I like that John Hughes was involved in creating include Weird Science (silly comedy about geeks creating their dream woman), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (silly comedy about a kid skipping school for the day), and Planes, Trains and Automobiles (silly but poignant comedy about two strangers thrown together while travelling).

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