As with every teen flick of the decade, it's a slew of cliches and types, but it's too cute to be unlikable. Our moody birthday celebrant, Samantha Baker, is a character all high school girls could identify with - neither pretty nor ugly, but hopelessly hopefully head-over-heels over the strapping senior, Jake Ryan. Predictably, Jake is the prom queen's boyfriend. And even more predictably, he chooses our lovestruck heroine in the end.
It's got the cutest gallery of geek-speaking misfits ever, led by Farmer Ted (played by the quintessential '80s geek, Anthony Michael Hall), Bryce (an already-cute John Cusack) and Cliff (some guy named Darren Harris). Plus a whole lot of unnamed others, including a back-brace girl (Joan Cusack).
The whole geeks-and-bullies thing may be an old joke, but lemme just say that there's something refreshing about seeing harmless losers in an '80s film. Farmer Ted and the like are souvenirs of a time before Jeremy Wade Delle (the kid referred to in Pearl Jam's Jeremy,), before Columbine -- that was, before we heard true stories of socially inept victims of bullying who took guns to school to shoot people.
On a lighter note, in the cast is also one of the most memorable '80s characters ever - Long Duk Dong (Gedde Watanabe), who was said to be Chinese but spoke in a Japanese accent. He was portrayed as an awkward, almost buffoon-like stereotypical East Asian. It was apparently funny back in 1984, but that would be considered racist and inappropriate today.
And speaking of memorable: The last sequence in Sixteen Candles is just chick-flick fabulous: Sam stands at the threshold of the church after her sister's wedding, sighing because her family forgot her again. The cars and relatives pull out one by one until they reveal - Jake Ryan, waiting for her at the other side of the road. Cue Thompson Twins music ...
if you were here, i could deceive you...
... and cue frissony shrieks.
Fade into that shot with Sam and her cake and her Jake, in a room romantically dim-lit by sixteen candles.
She's all pretty and princessy in her fluffy, pink bridesmaid's dress. Across her, he slouches in his dreamy aloofness. They're perched on top of a huge table, which elevates them to the level of the beautiful french windows in the background. The near-symmetrical arrangement is soflty framed by the background drapery and the lighting fixtures that echo the candle flames. They spew out possibly one of the corniest romantic dialogues in chick-flick history:
Jake: Make a wish.
Sam: It already came true.
They bend toward each other for a kiss and ... roll credits.
... but just like the rain
i'll be always falling, yeah
only to rise and fall again ...