Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Breakfast Club (Hughes. 1985)

“We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that's all.”

Some of the films on the 1077 Films to See Before You Die are so iconic that they do not need my validation. The list also features different levels of iconic. Some films (Casablanca, Citizen Kane) are iconic for their artistic merit. Other films are iconic because they defined an entire generation. The Breakfast Club is a perfect example of a film that had characters who wholly related to young people.

The kids were one-track stereotypes of the high school kids that you grew up around. You had the princess (Molly Ringwald), the jock (Emilio Estevez), the brain (Anthony Michael Hall), the basket-case (Ally Sheedy) and the criminal (Judd Nelson). But, as it was stated in the final letter of the film, if you look at these characters in their most simple definitions you would be missing out on the bigger ethos of the picture. The Breakfast Club is a timeless character study that cemented John Hughes as an 80’s film legend.

Like I said before, the characters all have very simple, one-track problems. The princess has no parental love, the brain and jock are under too much pressure to perform and the basket-case is yearning to be noticed. This leaves us with John Bender, the criminal. Played brilliantly by Judd Nelson, Bender is the most interesting and complex character in the entire film, mainly because he is an unreliable narrator. Like all the Holden Caulfield’s before him, Bender is on a journey to find himself. He embellishes stories of a wretched home life for the sake of sympathy, not that we aren’t supposed to believe his mythos; we just aren’t supposed to buy his feelings towards it.

And we don’t believe a single word that Bender says. Why? Because, when given the opportunity to manifest his threats on the face of his principal, he is submissive. This is one of the most intense and interesting scenes in all of teen-cinema because it shows us all what teenagers really are- afraid.

But Judd Nelson is not the only thing that makes The Breakfast Club brilliant. Another memorable aspect of the film is the writing of John Hughes. He actually managed to create characters that not only relate to teenagers, but also become more lovable as you get older. If you attended a public high school, you will eventually see yourself as a cross of all the struggling teenagers.

Yes, it is an aged film. The music is outdated (though remembered), the dancing is goofy looking and the fashion is outlandish. But the problems are real. And the social experiment of putting kids in a room and letting them build relationships is undoubtedly interesting. John Hughes may not have another film on the 1077 Films to See Before You Die, but he does not need another great film to be remembered. His stoke-of-genius, coming of age masterpiece is not only emotionally intriguing enough to watch, but crafted well enough to watch several times.

When given the choice to pick one film from every decade to put in a time capsule, my 80’s representative would have to be John Hughes’ star-studded classic. The Breakfast Club is great. Love it.

The Breakfast Club: B

My Next Film......Singin' in the Rain (Donen, Kelly. 1952)

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