Name of Film: The Breakfast Club
Director: John Hughes
Studio: A&M Films
Date of Release: February 15, 1985
The film begins with showing five different teenagers arriving at their high school on Saturday in order to serve detention. Each one of the kids represents a different high school stereotype. There’s Andrew the jock, Brian the nerd, Claire the rich girl, Allison the weirdo, and finally, John Bender the rebel. They all assemble into the school’s library where they are met by the principal, Mr. Vernon. He informs them that they are to stay in their seats without moving for eight hours. During this time, they are to complete a 1,000 word essay about who they think they are. Vernon heads to his office across the hall and leaves them alone.
Almost immediately after Vernon leaves, Bender begins to sexually harass Claire. She is disgusted, and Andrew tells Bender to back down. They begin to yell at each other, and eventually get into a fight that Andrew wins. Bender tells him that he doesn’t want to fight him, seeing as he will only end up killing him with the switchblade he had concealed. Vernon comes back and informs the students that it is lunchtime. Everyone pull out there lunch, except Bender who didn’t bring one. Bender begins to mock Andrew’s “perfect” relationship with his parents. Andrew questions Bender about his home life, leading to Bender telling a story about his abusive father. Andrew thinks he is lying until Bender shows him a cigar burn his father inflicted upon him. After this, Bender heads to the back of the library and away from the others.
When Vernon leaves his office for a bathroom break, Bender leads the others to his locker, where he pulls out a bag of marijuana. In order to distract Vernon and help the others get back to the library, Bender begins running up and down the hallways screaming. Vernon catches him and brings him into a small utility closet. Inside, Vernon berates and even threatens Bender with violence. After leaving, Vernon locks Bender inside. Bender escapes through the ceiling and makes it back to the library. He, Brian, and Claire all go to the back in order to smoke the marijuana. Afterwards, The groups all gathers together in the back and begins to bend. They all reveal how they got sentenced to detention, and some of their troublesome home lives. The day eventually ends and all the kids leave while Vernon checks on their essays. He only finds one page in which they all describe how they refuse to write the essays.
John Hughes was born in Lansing, Michigan on February 18, 1950. As a child, Hughes mostly kept to himself and listened to lots of music. Hughes attended Arizona State University, but quickly dropped out. His early career consisted of writing jokes for Joan Rivers and Rodney Dangerfield. Hughes later joined National Lampoon magazine as a writer. He eventually went on to write the screenplay for National Lampoon’s Vacation. This was the first real film that got him noticed.
Hughes’ directorial debut, Sixteen Candles, became a runaway hit and showed off Hughes’ brilliant knack for writing for teenager characters. Hughes followed up Sixteen Candles with The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, his two biggest films. After all of this success, Hughes continued to direct and write many other hits such as Uncle Buck and Home Alone. Sadly, Hughes suffered a massive heart attack in 2009 which ended up taking his life. However, his legacy still lives on through his movies that are still rewatched constantly even today.
The whole movie mainly tales place in the library of the high school all of the students attend. Hughes chooses to not focus so much on setting, but instead on the characters themselves. This however does not take away from some of the great camera and lighting techniques that Hughes is able to employ. In the main section of the library things are mostly pretty bright, creating a nice open atmosphere for our characters to converse in and interact with each other. It serves as a very lighthearted setting. Even though there are some pretty serious scenes that take place in this main section, it’s mostly goofy banter.
In order to shoot some of the more serious and intense scenes of the movie, Hughes finds and implements darker sections of the school and library. The scene in which Vernon chews out Bender happens inside a small, dimly lit utility closet that is able to match the intensity of the scene. For some of the ending scenes in which the characters bond in the back, the multiple bookshelves and corners create many shadows and dramatic lighting.
Another key element to this movie, along with most John Hughes movies, is the soundtrack. Hughes employs some of the most memorable high school music off the time and uses it in the film. Don’t You Forget About Me obviously became the big song associated with the film, and helped reflect the film’s portrayal of stereotypes and overcoming them. Apart from the credits and the occasional 80’s montage, Hughes actually keeps things pretty quiet, trying to add even more to the film’s feeling of realism. Much of the dialogue in the film works so well that Hughes makes the decision to just let it drive the majority of the film, and the decision definitely worked out in Hughes’ favor.
The two most important aspects that make this movie the triumph that it is are the screenplay, and the actors. Hughes’ ability to write the roles of high schoolers remains unequaled throughout all of cinema. Rather than sounding like typical teenager banter films usually employ, the dialogue in this movie truly sounds how real high school students would talk and act in front of each other. Hughes writes each character perfectly, making the stereotypes obvious enough to notice, but also subtle enough to come off as extremely realistic.
Finally, the main driving point of this film, the acting. Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, this was the brat pack, and this was the greatest cast of actors in a high school movie ever. Ally Sheedy’s job of portraying the shy and misunderstood Allison’s slow transition to coming out of her shell and realizing her true beauty is great. Molly Ringwald is great as the pretty little rich girl that hates being typecast and just wants to be herself. Emilio Estevez does a great job of showing an athlete pressured into winning at everything by his overenthusiastic father. And finally, Judd Nelson steals the show as John Bender. The bad boy with the troubled home life will never be portrayed this well ever again. He is able to show off the many emotions running through his character’s mind, as he slowly bonds with the others, and feels he must act out. The scene where he is yelled at by Vernon is probably his best, and he doesn’t even mutter a single word. The slight changes in his face show us everything that we need to know.
In conclusion, The Breakfast Club is considered one of Hughes’ best films and set the bar for other movies of its genre. In my opinion, not only is this the best John Hughes movie, it is the best high school movie ever. That’s right, its even better than Ferris Bueller. The films dialogue and its acting are able to pull of sense of realism unmatched by any other high school film I have ever seen.
My Score: 9.5/10