Secret Admirer [1985]

In the brief flower of his teen idolhood, C. Thomas Howell starred in this unexpectedly mature teen comedy. High school loser Michael (Howell) receives an unsigned love note and hopes it's from the queen of the social scene, Debbie (Kelly Preston). When Debbie brushes him off, his best friend Toni (Lori Loughlin) convinces him to send her an anonymous note of his own--only Toni, who's so in love with Michael that she wants him to be happy, rewrites his clumsy fumblings into romantic prose, and Debbie swoons. Meanwhile, the first note has fallen into other hands, setting off misguided passion among the kids' parents. Secret Admirer could have been familiar fluff, but the plot keeps taking unexpected turns, tweaking the clich├ęs of the teen genre with a dose of reality. The characters reveal surprising sides, resulting in a unusually rich story that earns its happy ending. --Bret Fetzer

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