February 10, 2013

"A Heroine for the Common Woman: Sixteen Candles" by Dava Krause

A mere look at the Sixteen Candles DVD cover, which I had bought five years ago from some discount bin and then put on the shelf, made me laugh. It was a Pavlovian response to my all time favorite movie from my adolescence.  Sure, I loved The Breakfast Club and Pretty In Pink and Heathers. But to me, for some reason, Sixteen Candles ranked far above any the others.

As I unwrapped the plastic on the case and watched the movie again for the first time in YEARS, I wondered, what was it about this movie that I loved so much? What was it about Samantha Baker who captured my heart? And why, after all these years, could I still recite every single line, phone ring and music cue, when I still had to whip out my debit card to buy something on-line because I hadn’t memorized the numbers yet?

The following scene takes place towards the beginning of the movie. Jake and his very muscular friend are doing chin ups in gym class. I used to rewind this scene over and over, laughing myself sick at this one.
JAKE: You know Samantha Baker?
MUSCULAR FRIEND: Sophomore right?
JAKE: What do you think of her?
JAKE: Would you ever go out with her?
MUSCULAR FRIEND: Depends on how much you paid me.
JAKE: She’s not ugly.
MUSCULAR FRIEND: There’s nothing there man. Its not ugly, it’s just void. You know what I mean?
JAKE: I do independent study with her. Catch her looking at me sometimes. Kinda cool the way she’s always looking at me.
MUSCULAR FRIEND: Maybe she’s retarded.
JAKE: I’m being serious.
When I saw this scene again, I laughed my ass off (and then rewound it to watch it again). And that’s when it hit me. Mr. Muscular Friend calls Samantha a void. She’s not ugly and she’s not Jake’s current girlfriend, Carolyn, who is a wo-man. She’s an indefinable, average girl with average friends, albeit the only ones we meet are Randy and Jimmy Montrose. Our heroine doesn’t fit into any particular category. Like me, she was ordinary.

I shifted in and out of different friend groups. I wasn’t hideous but I wasn’t a knock out. I enjoyed the Theater crowd and the folks in Math club (shut up). I was label-less. And during adolescence, when everyone is desperately trying to figure out who they are, being indefinable is unacceptable.

Yet in the end, Samantha Baker, aka a “void,” gets her crush. It was if John Hughes was saying, “Look, Dava, you may not have a boyfriend now, or in a few years or maybe not even until your graduate college, (I had my first actual boyfriend at age 22) but it will happen. It is possible.”  And that’s the kind of thing every average, void-like, not too special high school girl like me wanted to hear. And that’s why Sixteen Candles is the best Romantic Comedy ever made.

Dava Krause is a professional stand-up comic and aspiring television writer. Her debut comedy/rock album, “Child of the 80’s” has been a top download on iTunes for almost a year. She also had a recurring role on [H]ouse, M.D as Daria, the cranky cafeteria lady. Dava loves guacamole but when she eats it,  she spills it on her shirt. Follow her on twitter @davakrause

1 comment:

Morgain McGovern said...

So true! I loved this movie above all the others of that genre. Because every girl feels like Samantha, whether they show it or not.