From Phoebe Cates in ''Fast Times at Ridgemont High'' to Molly Ringwald in ''Pretty in Pink,'' these leading ladies captivated a generation of moviegoers

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Chances are, if you grew up in the ’80s, you learned a lot about life at the multiplex. Namely, that kickboxing is the sport of the future, that nerds have a sweet tooth for revenge, and that if you were lucky, one day you might date someone like Mia Sara’s Sloane Peterson from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986, PG-13, 1 hr., 42 mins.). On the eve of that movie’s Blu-ray release, we thought about some of the era’s other dream girls.

Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
Sure, Jennifer Jason Leigh’s sweet Stacy is the heroine, but it’s her food-court cohort Cates you can’t take your eyes off. And no, not just because of her slo-mo exit from the swimming pool. Cates’ Linda pretends to be wise beyond her years, but when she’s dumped by her older boyfriend, she becomes as vulnerable as the rest of us.

Heather Thomas in Zapped! (1982)
The Fall Guy star aces her role as a mean-girl cheerleader in this horndog riff on Carrie. She’s so good at being bad, you almost feel sorry for her when Scott Baio uses his telekinetic powers to make her clothes fly off at the prom. Almost.

Kelly LeBrock in Weird Science (1985)
Radio Shack dweebs Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith build the perfect woman on their computer. And presto…it’s the future Mrs. Steven Seagal! LeBrock’s as hilarious as she is easy on the eyes, whether she’s teaching life lessons or turning Bill Paxton into a pus-spewing toad.

Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink (1986)
With her thrift-shop dresses, Psychedelic Furs albums, and brassy confidence, Ringwald’s Andie gave birth to the alterna-dream girl. There’d be no Winona Ryder without her.

Rae Dawn Chong in Soul Man (1986)
C. Thomas Howell goes blackface to get into Harvard Law School. Offensive? You bet. But Chong’s sultry single mom nearly saves the movie with her take-no-guff feistiness. No wonder Howell married her three years later.

Amanda Peterson in Can’t Buy Me Love (1987)
Before he was scrubbing in as McDreamy, Patrick Dempsey played a doofus who goes from zero to hero after paying Peterson’s cheerleading It Girl, Cindy, to be his girlfriend. Who knew that beneath her rockin’ suede outfits lay the heart of a poet that the cool kids would never see? Sigh…

Pretty in Pink

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  • PG-13
  • Howard Deutch