Friday, February 10, 2017

Thirteen Reasons to Love Can't Buy Me Love

by Erika Bromley
Chips, dips, and dorks!

All week we’ve been celebrating the year 1987, and though I was just a baby at that time (shhhhh), somehow Can’t Buy Me Love became a significant film of my adolescence. It all started when my aunt Lori gave me a copied VHS tape with Ghostbusters, Hairspray, and Can’t Buy Me Love all on it. (Thank you, Auntie Lori! And thank you Mom for letting me watch those three films repeatedly. Not a bad group of '80s movies to be stuck with.) I watched that tape ALL. THE. TIME. I know the film has its flaws. But so many of the lines have stuck with me through the years – and some of the film’s lessons still resonate today. Love it or hate it (and I clearly LOVE it), it’s filled with memorable moments.
1. Cindy Mancini’s hair. I bet those highlights are natural. It’s perfect curly, wavy, straight, or crimped. She even makes 1987 side wings look good.

2. Seth Green as Chuckie Miller.

3. Cindy revealing her independence #1: Defending Ronald for sitting in the visitors’ section.

4. The music, and not just the Beatles song. There's "French Kissing in the USA," "Actress," and my favorite “Living in a Box” by Living in a Box from their album Living in a Box.
5. Cindy Mancini’s hair.

6. Cindy revealing her independence #2: “Of course I can do it” –before scaling the wall at the “Airplane Graveyard.”

7. Cindy revealing her independence #3: “The name is Cindy, and don’t call me Babe.”
8. Cindy Mancini’s hair.

9. Cindy revealing her independence #4 (and making us all wonder why she hangs out with any of her “friends”): “Next time I see one I’ll remember that” (in reference to her friends speaking about being a lady).

10. Cindy revealing her independence #5: Her school dance date complains about his milkshake and seems to be a total dolt: ”Looks thick to me” – as she pours it on his long locks and beloved car. At this point, Cindy really doesn’t take sh*t from anybody*. She’s over trying to maintain the image of who her friends think she is supposed to be (I guess just based on her looks?). She’s not about to go public with her poetry yet, but I’m guessing she’s just a diploma away from saying “f it” and being true to who she really is.

*It seems like she still might take sh*t from Bobby, her away-at-college jock boyfriend. But it’s clear that she’s got more on her mind than her friends do, and it’s implied that she is starting to get tired of her “popularity” and wants to have deeper connections with people. Everyone around her is seeming fake, while her month of “pretending” with Ronald kind of made her get over that.

12. Sooo… Patrick Dempsey is really great in this movie. His sincere moments are never cringey or forced; when he starts to cry while apologizing to Kenneth at the arcade, it’s believable – and a little heartbreaking.

13. Speaking of arcades… this movie reminded me of all that we’ve lost since the many technologies that have allowed us to have almost everything we need for entertainment right in our own homes (or in our pockets!). People still need to get out of their houses – it’s how you meet people! Unless you live next door to someone willing to pay you to date them...leading to your eventual true love.


  1. This movie even has *poetry* in it? I mean, I knew that. Okay, I didn't know that but--like this "Cindy" person, apparently--I'm tired of being fake so I will admit I have never seen Can't Buy Me Love. Erika, can we please still be friends? Or will I be... LIVING IN A BOX?

    1. Jan,
      First - very random that I stumbled across this old piece today. But I'm glad I did - only because... we never followed up on this? Have you now seen this masterpiece? If not, when are we planning a screening? Poetry and amazing hair (not sure if I mentioned that?).

  2. I'm surprised that with your great familiarity with this film that you never mentioned Cindy Mancini's hair.

  3. This article is awesome! Yea her hair was like "Buttercup" level beautiful. I just rewatched some of it on YT and realized she's also the tiniest person on earth.

    This movie left such an impression on me since my dad replayed it over and over when I was young. I always felt like my dad WAS Ronald Miller. Seeing it now as an adult it's a little different, he's not quite Ronald Miller of course, but, anyway, that impression of feeling inadequate still runs pretty deep.

    The ensemble scenes in this movie are all super fun!