Most people know Andrew McCarthy from his movie roles in Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo's Fire, Weekend at Bernie's, and Less than Zero, and as a charter member of Hollywood's Brat Pack. Here, McCarthy focuses his gaze on that singular moment in time. The result is a look at coming of age in a maelstrom, reckoning with conflicted ambition, innocence, addiction, and masculinity.
From what inspired him to attend acting school in New York City, to his first film role and his big break into the world of John Hughes’ films, McCarthy’s book has a little something for everyone. For fans of the craft, he discusses his training at NYU in some detail...For those who are curious about what happens behind the scenes in the film industry, McCarthy relays a bit of insider knowledge of the business gained over the past few decades...For those interested in his more closely guarded personal life, McCarthy lowers the shield to dig into what he calls the 'yin-yang' of his consuming desire to be a successful actor versus the way he hid himself away, acted disinterested (often at the expense of his career) to cope with his internal fears. And, of course, he delves into his relationships with fellow 'Brat Pack' members, revealing stories which may surprise readers ... All in all, Brat is just what you would expect: an entertaining, yet self-reflective, romp down memory lane. McCarthy’s writing is solid and flowing, honest and critical. Fans with a special place in their heart for ‘80s nostalgia are sure to enjoy the stories shared here.
As someone with firsthand experience in the perils of second installments, McCarthy, 58, might have reconsidered going back to the autobiographical well, which he already explored with the 2012 travelogue, The Longest Way Home. His follow-up, Brat: An ’80s Story, is a more marketable venture, packed with on-set insights and off-set indiscretions from a curious chapter of Hollywood history. Yet, by zeroing in on these formative years, McCarthy sells himself short ... How did the baby-faced star of Pretty in Pink,Less Than Zero and St. Elmo’s Fire become an editor at large of National Geographic Traveler and a go-to director on Orange Is the New Blac and The Blacklist? Beyond the occasional digression, Brat skips such introspection. There’s emotional honesty about the young man he was, but not about the Renaissance man he is now ... Readers instead settle for nebulous tales from McCarthy’s early stardom, though he is upfront about his memory’s fickleness...Whether these vague anecdotes are purposefully evasive or the inevitable product of a mind peering into the past, it’s clear that this is no all-encompassing account ... That’s not to say that McCarthy’s recollections lack intrigue. The actor effectively paints his younger self as a sheepish outsider, torn between ambition and art, stumbling his way through an industry that doesn’t hand out road maps. Say what you will about the creative caliber of McCarthy’s filmography, he exudes a sincere appreciation of his craft. As he muses on method acting and on-set politicking, one senses McCarthy’s comfort in the director’s chair — and wonders why the book doesn’t expand on that evolution ... When it comes to the Brat Pack films, McCarthy provides an entertaining-enough glimpse behind the curtain ... There’s a wistful tenor to McCarthy’s take on the Brat Pack, though the lack of rapport with his contemporaries leaves the book surprisingly short on its nominal topic ... Eventually, McCarthy dives into his 1992 detox and subsequent sobriety, fearlessly opening up on bottoming out. His eventual reconciliation with his ailing father, meanwhile, delivers bittersweet catharsis. It speaks to an inherent flaw in the memoir, however: that its most therapeutic moments occur after the ’80s part of a book subtitled 'An ’80s Story' ... Your mileage may vary on this trip down memory lane, depending on your affinity for the Brat Pack oeuvre. But considering the richness of McCarthy’s subsequent career, his most compelling chapters may remain to be written.
... as a life journey from McCarthy’s hometown of Westfield, New Jersey, and a loving middle-class family, the narrative drama thins ... readers who’ve imbibed the memoirs of the other, more willfully driven Brat Packers may find McCarthy’s dish too bland. But his perspective is welcome, his insight more, much more, than zero.