The Breakfast Club (1985)
Breakfast at Shermer High School
I wanna be just like you. I figure all I need, is a lobotomy and some tights - John Bender
John Hughes wrote so many great movies in his time, directing a few as well such as "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Uncle Buck" but probably his most popular is "The Breakfast Club". The tale of 5 very different students who find themselves in Saturday detention learn that they are not so different to each other seems to continue to gain new fans who enjoy the comedy of these students stuck in school and having dun lead by Judd Nelson as Bender with his rebellious streak.
Having been punished with a Saturday detention at Shermer High School, 5 students with what seems like nothing in common set about spending a boring day serving out their punishment under the supervision of Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason). But as the barriers come down and they talk about their lives, loves and stresses they realise that they have a lot more in common than they initially thought.
In some ways "The Breakfast Club" is quite a strange movie, as unlike the majority of movies it does not comply with the standard protocol of having a proper set up, a twisting story or contrived ending, it is just a look at the day of 5 teenagers who are in detention. In many ways it is this difference which helps it to stand out from others as the whole viewing experience feels fresh and different to the likes of other teen movies. That is not to say it just meanders along with no real focus, as it has, that being the journey and growth that each of the 5 students undertakes as they learn about each other. It is partly this which makes "The Breakfast Club" such a great teen movie, as we are taken on a journey of issues from parental control, peer pressure and the need to be liked which dominate the majority of adolescent's lives.
Writer/ Director John Hughes definitely managed to tap into the teenagers psyche and demonstrate their fears in such an entertaining yet realistic manner that, whilst at times you are cracking up at some of the on screen antics, you can really empathise with what these young men and women are feeling. It is also down to Hughes's understanding of teenage culture that he managed to bring the different sects from school into one movie, with the likes of the sports jock, rebel, princess, brainiac as well as misfit and show that despite their outwards appearance beneath the mask they are all the same.
As is the case with many of John Hughes's movies he manages to mix both drama and comedy with maximum efficiency and "The Breakfast Club" is no exception. In the blink of an eye you go from watching some meaningful drama as we learn something about one of the teenagers to general humour as one of them makes a joke or something happens which brings a tear of joy to your eye. There is of course some trademark Hughes over the top comedy, including sports jock Andrew Clark going hyper and somersaulting around the library after smoking pot, but then scenes like this are what makes a John Hughes movie stand out from the others. There are so many similar scenes that anyone who has ever seen "The Breakfast Club" will easily manage to conjure up images in their mind of their favourite scenes.
With out doubt one of the resounding reasons why "The Breakfast Club" is so fondly remembered is not only for its brilliant teen characters but also the performances from the 5 main stars, all of which were popular teen stars from the 80s. With the likes of Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy and Anthony Michael Hall playing the parts of sports Jock, princess, social misfit and brainiac respectively all putting in brilliant performances the movie is not short of great acting.
But one performance stands out above all the others and that is Judd Nelson as John Bender the rebel who is in essence the driving force of the movie. Whilst we learn a lot about the others we learn a lot more about Bender and why he behaves like a rebel, but it is also Nelson's brilliant performance which makes this character come to life, that even though this is set in an American school, we can associate the character with the equivalent in the UK. That is one of the best things about "The Breakfast Club" it is as relevant to teens in the UK as much as it is to the teens in America and that is down to the wonderful characters.
As I have found with a lot of teen movies from the 80s is the surprising lack of an easily recognizable commercial soundtrack and in the case of "The Breakfast Club" the only piece I really recognized was "Don't You (Forget About Me)" performed by Simple Minds, but then this doesn't detract from the overall enjoyment at all and although you may not recognize all the songs they definitely are the sounds of the 80s.
What is of course a big question is whether this 1985 movie is starting to feel like it is past it's sell by date. Well for me not at all, yes the outfits are typical 80s as well as the sound track but other than that "The Breakfast Club" feels that it is dealing with issues which are as prevalent now as they were then. Maybe my view is a bit one sided as I grew up with the movie and so still enjoy watching it today as it gives me an enjoyable sense of nostalgia and so would I imagine anyone else who watched it back in the 80s.
What this all boils down to is that "The Breakfast Club" is without doubt one of the greatest teen comedies to have come out of the 80s. With brilliant characters and performances as well as a story which deals with teenage issues it has something which every teenager will be able to associate with. Even though my teenage days have long gone I still love "The Breakfast Club" and the whole nostalgic feeling I get from when ever I watch it. As with all movies it isn't going to appeal to everyone and more than likely it will only really appeal to those who first watched it back in the 80s, but for me it is a must see classic for all movie lovers.
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