Can't Buy Me Love (film)

Last updated
Can't Buy Me Love
Can't Buy Me Love Movie Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Steve Rash
Produced by Thom Mount
Written byMichael Swerdlick
Music by Robert Folk
Cinematography Peter Lyons Collister
Edited by Jeff Gourson
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release date
August 14, 1987 (1987-08-14)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States
Language English
Box office$31.6 million

Can't Buy Me Love is a 1987 American teen romantic comedy feature film starring Patrick Dempsey and Amanda Peterson in a story about a nerd at a high school in Tucson, Arizona who gives a cheerleader $1,000 to pretend to be his girlfriend for a month. The film was directed by Steve Rash [1] and takes its title from a Beatles song with the same title.

Teen film is a film genre targeted at teenagers and young adults in which the plot is based upon the special interests of teenagers and young adults, such as coming of age, attempting to fit in, bullying, peer pressure, first love, teen rebellion, conflict with parents, teen angst or alienation. Often these normally serious subject matters are presented in a glossy, stereotyped or trivialized way. For legal reasons, many teenage characters are portrayed by young adults. Some teen films appeal to young males while others appeal to young females.

Romantic comedy Film genre

Romantic comedy is a genre with lighthearted, humorous plot lines centered on romantic ideas, such as how true love is able to surmount most obstacles. One dictionary definition is "a funny movie, play, or television program about a love story that ends happily". Another definition suggests that its "primary distinguishing feature is a love plot in which two sympathetic and well-matched lovers are united or reconciled".

A feature film or theatrical film is a film with a running time long enough to be considered the principal or sole film to fill a program. The term feature film originally referred to the main, full-length film in a cinema program that also included a short film and often a newsreel. The notion of how long a feature film should be has varied according to time and place. According to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the American Film Institute and the British Film Institute, a feature film runs for more than 40 minutes, while the Screen Actors Guild asserts that a feature's running time is 75 minutes or longer.



Ronald Miller is a typical high school nerd living in suburban Tucson, Arizona. He has spent all summer mowing lawns to save up for a telescope. At an opportune moment, he makes a deal with next-door neighbor and popular cheerleader Cynthia "Cindy" Mancini. Cindy had borrowed her mother's expensive suede outfit without permission, to wear to a party, only to have Quint accidentally spill red wine on it. Cindy reluctantly agrees to help Ronald look "cool" by pretending to be his girlfriend for a month for $1000, even though she already has a boyfriend named Bobby who is attending the University of Iowa.

Tucson, Arizona City in Arizona, United States

Tucson is a city and the county seat of Pima County, Arizona, United States, and home to the University of Arizona. The 2010 United States Census put the population at 520,116, while the 2015 estimated population of the entire Tucson metropolitan statistical area (MSA) was 980,263. The Tucson MSA forms part of the larger Tucson-Nogales combined statistical area (CSA), with a total population of 1,010,025 as of the 2010 Census. Tucson is the second-largest populated city in Arizona behind Phoenix, both of which anchor the Arizona Sun Corridor. The city is 108 miles (174 km) southeast of Phoenix and 60 mi (97 km) north of the U.S.–Mexico border. Tucson is the 33rd largest city and the 58th largest metropolitan area in the United States (2014).

University of Iowa public research university in Iowa City, Iowa, United States

The University of Iowa is a public research university in Iowa City, Iowa. Founded in 1847, it is the oldest and the second largest university in the state. The University of Iowa is organized into 11 colleges offering more than 200 areas of study and seven professional degrees.

Ronald then trades his nerdy, yet loyal, friends for the popular, but shallow students, and undergoes a complete clothing and hair makeover under Cindy's direction. Over time, a bond develops between the two. She lets him read a poem she wrote that means a great deal to her. He reveals his interests in astronomy and space travel. On their last date which Ronald has "paid" for, Cindy hints that she would like to kiss him, but he misunderstands. The next day at school, they dramatically "break up" in front of a crowd, but Ronald takes things too far and says some hurtful things about Cindy in front of her friends. She becomes cool and distant, and warns him that popularity is hard work and he needs to make sure that he "stays [him]self". The next day, she sees him behaving arrogantly at school, and becomes jealous when she sees him flirting with her best friends Barbara and Patty.

Astronomy natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects

Astronomy is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It applies mathematics, physics, and chemistry in an effort to explain the origin of those objects and phenomena and their evolution. Objects of interest include planets, moons, stars, nebulae, galaxies, and comets; the phenomena also includes supernova explosions, gamma ray bursts, quasars, blazars, pulsars, and cosmic microwave background radiation. More generally, all phenomena that originate outside Earth's atmosphere are within the purview of astronomy. A branch of astronomy called cosmology is the study of the Universe as a whole.

To be spacefaring is to be capable of and active in space travel or space transport, the operation of spacecraft or spaceplanes. It involves a knowledge of a variety of topics and development of specialised skills including: aeronautics; astronautics; programs to train astronauts; space weather and forecasting; ship-handling and small craft handling; operation of various equipment; spacecraft design and construction; atmospheric takeoff and reentry; orbital mechanics ; communications; engines and rockets; execution of evolutions such as towing, micro-gravity construction, and space docking; cargo handling equipment, dangerous cargoes and cargo storage; spacewalking; dealing with emergencies; survival at space and first aid; fire fighting; life support. The degree of knowledge needed within these areas is dependent upon the nature of the work and the type of vessel employed. "Spacefaring" is analogous to seafaring.

Flirting Social behavior that suggests interest in a deeper relationship with the other person

Flirting or coquetry is a social and sexual behavior involving verbal or written communication, as well as body language, by one person to another, either to suggest interest in a deeper relationship with the other person, or if done playfully, for amusement.

He takes Patty to a dance at school, where he performs a dance he learned from an African cultural show on public television. At first, the other kids are mystified, but they soon join in, and Ronald's new "trendy" dancing further increases his popularity. On Halloween night, he and some other boys drive to the house of Kenneth, Ronald's best friend, where the jocks test his loyalty by coercing him to hurl dog feces at Kenneth's house. Kenneth is lying in wait and catches Ronald, but lets him go before his dad can call the police. Kenneth ignores Ronald the next day at school.

PBS Public television network in the United States

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is an American public broadcaster and television program distributor. It is a nonprofit organization and the most prominent provider of educational television programming to public television stations in the United States, distributing series such as American Experience, America's Test Kitchen, Antiques Roadshow, Arthur, Downton Abbey, Finding Your Roots, Frontline, The Magic School Bus, Masterpiece, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, Nature, Nova, the PBS NewsHour, Sesame Street, and This Old House.

Feces solid or semisolid remains of the food that could not be digested in the small intestine

Feces, colloquially known as poop, are the solid or semisolid remains of the food that could not be digested in the small intestine. Bacteria in the large intestine further break down the material. Feces contain a relatively small amount of metabolic waste products such as bacterially altered bilirubin, and the dead epithelial cells from the lining of the gut.

At a New Year's Eve party at Big John's house, Ronald starts drinking and has a romantic tryst with his date Iris in the bathroom. Cindy walks by and hears Ronald reciting to Iris her special poem. Devastated, she starts drinking even more. Later, as a surprise, Cindy's boyfriend, Bobby, shows up at the party. After he learns about her "relationship" with Ronald, he breaks up with her. She tries to explain the situation, but he still walks out on her. In anger and frustration, she tells the party-goers the truth. Rejected and dejected, Ronald leaves and spends the night in his garage crying himself to sleep. When school resumes, he finds himself ostracized by both the "jocks" and the nerds. His attempts to reconcile with both Cindy and Kenneth are rebuffed.

New Years Eve holiday celebrated on 31 December

In the Gregorian calendar, New Year's Eve, the last day of the year, is on 31 December. In many countries, New Year's Eve is celebrated at evening social gatherings, where many people dance, eat, drink alcoholic beverages, and watch or light fireworks to mark the new year. Some Christians attend a watchnight service. The celebrations generally go on past midnight into New Year's Day, 1 January.

Ronald gets an opportunity to redeem himself. Kenneth, helping Patty with her math homework, is ordered by Quint to go back to his side of the cafeteria or receive a beating. Ronald intervenes, threatening to break Quint's pitching arm if he does not leave Kenneth alone. Ronald points out that the three were all friends at one time: when they were nine, Quint fell out of their tree house and broke his arm. Kenneth and Ronald carried him twelve blocks to the hospital. Ronald confesses he was desperate to run with the popular crowd, but had messed up by trying to buy his way in. Ronald goes on to say that the cool/nerd dynamic is "all bullshit, it's tough enough just being yourself", and walks away. Quint apologizes to Kenneth and the two shake hands as the whole school applauds.

Following the incident, Cindy recognizes Ronald's worth and hops on the back of his riding lawn mower. He asks her to prom, and the two kiss as the Beatles title song plays. The two of them ride off into the sunset on the lawn mower.

Prom semi-formal dance or gathering of students at the end of the high school academic year

In the United States, a promenade dance, most commonly called a prom, is a semi-formal dance or gathering of high school students. This event is typically held near the end of the senior year. Proms figure greatly in popular culture and are major events among high school students. There may be individual senior and junior proms or they may be combined.


Production notes

The film was shot on location in Tucson, Arizona, at Tucson High Magnet School (then known as Tucson High School). [2] The choreography is by Paula Abdul, who makes an uncredited appearance as a dancer. [3]

On a date where the main characters begin to bond, they jump the perimeter wall and explore the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group Aircraft Bone Yard on Davis–Monthan Air Force Base that contains 4,400 aircraft. Although the characters say they jump the fence at 309 AMARG (The Boneyard) the actual scene looks more like it was shot at Bob's Air Park, an aircraft recycler just outside the Boneyard, which has since been sold.

Critical reception

Can't Buy Me Love received mixed reviews from critics. Caryn James, in The New York Times , wrote that the film missed its mark and traded its potential originality for a bid at popularity:

Roger Ebert gave the film a half star out of a possible 4:

Rotten Tomatoes has a rating of 50% based on 22 critics. [5] In 2006, it ranked number 41 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 50 Best High School Movies. [6] [7]


Young Artist Award


In 2013 Intrada Records released Robert Folk's complete score for the film on a limited edition CD paired with David Newman's work for Paradise . [8]


In 2003, Can't Buy Me Love was remade as Love Don't Cost a Thing starring Nick Cannon and Christina Milian. [9] Though the triggering event differs between the two movies, many of the aspects/scenes from the original film are reinterpreted in this remake, such as the eating of raw egg in the Home Economics classroom, as well as the cheerleader telling the bully that he is sitting in the wrong section in the cafeteria that he needs to sit in the "asshole section" of the cafeteria.

Related Research Articles

<i>Days of Wine and Roses</i> (film) 1962 film by Blake Edwards

Days of Wine and Roses is a 1962 drama film directed by Blake Edwards with a screenplay by JP Miller adapted from his own 1958 Playhouse 90 teleplay of the same name.

<i>Grease</i> (film) 1978 romantic musical film directed by Randal Kleiser

Grease is a 1978 American musical romantic comedy film based on the 1971 musical of the same name by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. Written by Bronte Woodard and directed by Randal Kleiser in his theatrical feature film debut, the film depicts the lives of greaser Danny Zuko and Australian transfer student Sandy Olsson who develop an attraction for each other. The film stars John Travolta as Danny, Olivia Newton-John as Sandy, and Stockard Channing as Betty Rizzo, the leader of the Pink Ladies.

<i>Cant Hardly Wait</i> 1998 film by Deborah Kaplan, Harry Elfont

Can't Hardly Wait is a 1998 American teen comedy film written and directed by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont. It stars an ensemble cast including Ethan Embry, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Charlie Korsmo, Lauren Ambrose, Peter Facinelli, and Seth Green, and is notable for a number of "before-they-were-famous" appearances by teen stars.

Amanda Peterson was an American actress, most known for her role as Cindy Mancini in the 1987 comedy film Can't Buy Me Love.

<i>Not Another Teen Movie</i> 2001 film by Joel Gallen

Not Another Teen Movie is a 2001 American teen comedy film directed by Joel Gallen and written by Mike Bender, Adam Jay Epstein, Andrew Jacobson, Phil Beauman, and Buddy Johnson. It features an ensemble cast including Chyler Leigh, Chris Evans, Jaime Pressly, Eric Christian Olsen, Eric Jungmann, Mia Kirshner, Deon Richmond, Cody McMains, Sam Huntington, Samm Levine, Cerina Vincent, Ron Lester, Randy Quaid, Lacey Chabert, and Riley Smith.

<i>A Charlie Brown Valentine</i>

A Charlie Brown Valentine is an animated television special, based on characters from the Charles M. Schulz comic strip Peanuts. It features the Peanuts characters during the week leading up to Valentine's Day.

<i>Love Dont Cost a Thing</i> (film) 2003 film by Troy Beyer

Love Don't Cost a Thing is a 2003 American teen comedy film written and directed by Troy Beyer and starring Nick Cannon and Christina Milian. It also stars Steve Harvey, Kenan Thompson and Kal Penn. The film is a remake of the 1987 film Can't Buy Me Love.

<i>Black Moon Rising</i> 1986 film by Harley Cokeliss

Black Moon Rising is a 1986 science fiction action thriller film directed by Harley Cokliss, written by John Carpenter, and starring Tommy Lee Jones, Linda Hamilton, Robert Vaughn, Keenan Wynn, and Richard Jaeckel. The plot revolves around the theft of a prototype vehicle called the Black Moon.

<i>Superbad</i> (film) 2007 film by Greg Mottola

Superbad is a 2007 American coming-of-age teen comedy film directed by Greg Mottola and produced by Judd Apatow. The film stars Jonah Hill and Michael Cera as Seth and Evan, two teenagers about to graduate high school. Before graduating, the boys want to party and lose their virginity, however their plan proves harder than expected. Written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the script began development when they were 13 years old, and was loosely based on their experience in Grade 12 in Vancouver during the 1990s; the main characters have the same given names as the two writers. Rogen was also initially intended to play Seth, but due to age and physical size this was changed, and Hill went on to portray Seth, while Rogen portrayed the irresponsible Officer Michaels, opposite former Saturday Night Live star Bill Hader as Officer Slater.

<i>Sleeping Beauties</i> 1999 film by Jamie Babbit

Sleeping Beauties is a 1999 short comedy film directed by Jamie Babbit. It premiered at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. It stars Sarah Lassez as a morgue beautician trying to get over her ex-girlfriend, played by Radha Mitchell. Babbit made the film with help from David Fincher and Michael Douglas. It played at several film festivals during 1998 and 1999, and was later distributed on a DVD collection of short films by production company POWER UP. Babbit won a Channel 4 award for the film.

Cindy Cunningham

Cindy Cunningham is a fictional character from the British soap opera Hollyoaks, played by Stephanie Waring. She made her first on-screen appearance on 4 December 1995, then played by Laura Crossley, as the youngest daughter of Gordon and Angela Cunningham. In 1996, Crossley quit the serial and the role was recast to Waring. Waring remained with the soap until 2001, when she quit the role. Waring reprised the role briefly in 2002 and 2004 before returning as a full-time character in June 2008, reintroduced by series producer Bryan Kirkwood. In 2010, the character was temporarily written out for Waring's maternity leave. She returned to filming in January 2011 and returned on 9 March 2011.

<i>Carmen Jones</i> (film) 1954 film by Otto Preminger

Carmen Jones is a 1954 American musical film starring Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte, produced and directed by Otto Preminger. The screenplay by Harry Kleiner is based on the lyrics and book by Oscar Hammerstein II, from the 1943 stage musical of the same name, set to the music of Georges Bizet's 1875 opera Carmen. The opera was an adaptation of the 1845 Prosper Mérimée novella Carmen by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy.

<i>Me, Natalie</i> 1969 film by Fred Coe

Me, Natalie is a 1969 American comedy-drama film directed by Fred Coe about a homely young woman from Brooklyn who moves to Greenwich Village and finds romance with an aspiring painter. The screenplay by A. Martin Zweiback is based on an original story by Stanley Shapiro. Patty Duke, who starred in the title role, won a Golden Globe Award for her performance. The film also starred James Farentino, Salome Jens, Elsa Lanchester, Martin Balsam and Nancy Marchand. It marked Al Pacino's film debut.

<i>17 Again</i> (film) 2009 American film by Burr Steers

17 Again is a 2009 American comedy film directed by Burr Steers. The film follows 37-year-old Mike who becomes his 17-year-old self after a chance accident. The film also features Leslie Mann, Thomas Lennon, and Michelle Trachtenberg in supporting roles. The film was released in the United States on April 17, 2009.

High School Reunion is a reality television series chronicling real-life high school reunions.

<i>I Love You, Beth Cooper</i> (film) 2009 comedy film directed by Chris Columbus

I Love You, Beth Cooper is a 2009 comedy film directed by Chris Columbus and starring Hayden Panettiere and Paul Rust. It is based on the novel by Larry Doyle, with Doyle also writing the film's screenplay.

<i>Extract</i> (film) 2009 film by Mike Judge

Extract is a 2009 American comedy film written and directed by Mike Judge, and starring an ensemble cast featuring Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, and Ben Affleck, with J. K. Simmons, Clifton Collins, Jr., and Dustin Milligan.

<i>Cant Buy Me Love</i> (TV series) 2010 Hong Kong television series

Can't Buy Me Love is a 2010 Hong Kong television series. It is a grand production by TVB and starred Charmaine Sheh, Moses Chan, Linda Chung, Raymond Wong Ho-yin, Kenneth Ma, Fala Chen, Louis Yuen, Selena Li, Susanna Kwan, Lee Heung Kam, Edwin Siu and Sharon Chan.

Tween Academy: Class of 2012 is a Filipino teen comedy film directed by Mark Reyes. It was produced by GMA Films and SM Development Corporation. The show Tween Hearts, top-billed by the love teams of Joshua Dionisio - Barbie Forteza and Jake Vargas - Bea Binene, together with Joyce Ching and Kristofer Martin, Lexi Fernandez and Derrick Monasterio, Louise delos Reyes and Alden Richards, and introducing Elmo Magalona, is the basis of the film. The film was released August 24, 2011.

Getting Gertie's Garter is a 1945 American slapstick comedy film written and directed by Allan Dwan, and starring Dennis O'Keefe, Marie McDonald, and Barry Sullivan. The film is based on the 1921 play of the same name by Wilson Collison and Avery Hopwood. The play was previously adapted for the screen as a silent film released in 1927 by Metropolitan Pictures and starred Marie Prevost and Charles Ray.


  1. 1 2 Roger Ebert (August 14, 1987). "Can't Buy Me Love". Chicago Sun-Times . Retrieved 2016-09-16.
  2. Huestis, Lucy. "THMS History". Tucson Unified School District. Archived from the original on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 12 Feb 2014.
  3. "Can't Buy Me Love (1987) - Full Cast & Crew". IMDb. Retrieved 12 Feb 2014.
  4. James, Caryn. "Film: 'Can't Buy Me Love'" . Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  5. "Can't Buy Me Love" . Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  6. "Entertainment Weekly's 50 Best High School Movies". Retrieved November 17, 2010.
  7. (2006). "Entertainment Weekly Ranks Top 50 High School Flicks". Retrieved November 11, 2007.
  8. "PARADISE / CAN'T BUY ME LOVE". Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  9. Scott Brown (December 10, 2003). "Love Don't Cost a Thing". Entertainment Weekly . Retrieved 2007-11-11.