May 28, 2011

The Breakfast Club (1985) - once upon a time in a Saturday detention

directed by John Hughes / starring Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy

Five high school kids spend their day in detention on a Saturday. All the stereotypical high school types are represented: the jock, the nerd, the prom queen, the weirdo and the problem child. They all come from different directions, diffrent backgrounds, different lives, and at they end of the day they leave to again go their own separate ways, but in between, they might learn something about each other, about themselves and about life.

It's a real travesty that before just a few months ago, the only John Hughes films I'd seen were about an accident-prone kid called Kevin McCallister. I mean, of course I have the highest respect to Home Alone movies, but oh how I wish I had discovered the John Hughes high school movies of the '80s when I was in that particular target age. Better late than never, though! The Breakfast Club was actually the first one I saw, and after that I've seen pretty much all the other big ones (Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Sixteen Candles, Some Kind of Wonderful, Pretty in Pink, even Weird Science), but nothing really could beat that first one.

They say that John Hughes was the first film director ever to take teenagers seriously, and potray them in an accurate, realistic way, and I'm totally buying that. That one scene towards the end of The Breakfast Club (where they sit and talk, you know what I mean, I'm sure) is enough to prove that Hughes remembered what it is like to be a teen. My god, that scene is one brilliant piece of cinema. It's almost overwhelming and can't be described in words (at least not in any words I know) how awesome that scene is.

I love all the characters in The Breakfast Club (though some more than other, yes), and I love how they interact with each other. Really, the five individual characters and the group dynamics are what holds the film together and makes it so, so good.

John Bender played by Judd Nelson is the obvious scene stealer. The character just kind of kicks ass. In many ways he's is the central figure of the whole movie, but mostly just because that personality needs to be in the centre. John Bender doesn't give a (excusez-moi mon francais (or something (excuse my lousy French)), but this is what Bender would say) fuck. He doesn't really respect anyone (authority figures the least (but somehow he seems to respect Allison, though, which is super cool) and lets it show. He's rude and out of control and angry and arrogant and awesome. You just got to love that attitude and that fast tongue.

Andrew Clark played by Emilio Estevez is the popular jock, who kind of struggles between being a nice guy and seeming cool among his peers. He's not particularly standout as a character and not very intriguing (at least not for me), so he's quite a tricky character to play. I guess Andrew and Ringwald's Claire are my least favourites of the bunch, because they are the most like they seem, like you'd expect them to be. They don't really hold as much mystery or secrets as the others.

Molly Ringwald plays the popular girl Claire Standish so much better than all the geeky, 'likable' girls she's played in other Hughes movies. Maybe it's because I never found her presence very likable or sympathetic or easy to relate to, so I didn't really buy her as the awkward yet good-hearted heroine in Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles. The haughty prom queen type she does quite well, however. But like I said above, the character lacks the element of surprise to really kick ass.

Ally Sheedy's Allison Reynold is such a weirdo. She doesn't speak much, but when she does, it's golden. I love everything that she says. Or does, for that matter. "When you grow up, your heart dies." And that's all I need to say about her.

What did I do before I had seen Anthony Michael Hall in action? I tell you what I did. I lived in shameful ignorance! I was so clueless! I liked him in Sixteen Candles and Weird Science as well, because he does comedy so brilliantly, but this... I was SO impressed by his acting, especially in the scene I praised above. I'm almost tearing up just thinking about it. Geez, that just hits me so freaking hard. On the other hand, the comedy value is still there ("Chicks can't hold their smoke. That's what it is."), plus Anthony Michael Hall's personality is probably one of the most likable personalities there is, so you just can't help loving that shy, awkward, geeky Brian Johnson talking about the academic clubs he's in. Aww.

So there you go. Add the enemy (the wonderfully horrible principal played by Paul Gleason) to the mix, and you got yourself the most awesome and life-changing Satuday detention ever. The Breakfast Club is the latest addition I've made to the sacred and prestigious group I imaginatively like to call My Favourite Movies. And it's been a long, long time coming...

"You see us as you want to see us - in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Correct? That's the way we saw each other at 7:00 this morning. We were brainwashed."


Marja said...

I adore, ADORE this film! That scene, where they talk in the end is so true, not some sugarcoated I-love-you-man-everything-in-real-life-is-gonna-be honky-dory ending. I also like Ferris Bueller and Sixteen candles, but you're right, this is his greates film.

Eeva said...

Your exactly right about that scene. Oh how I love it. It's genius.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE this movie, I've watched it over ten times since I saw it the first time in the 80's ;O)

Eeva said...

Aw, I'm kind of jealous that you got to see it when it first came out! ;) Oh what I've been missing all these years...