The Breakfast Club
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They were five teenage students with nothing in common, faced with spending a Saturday detention together in their high school library. At seven a.m., they had nothing to say, but by four p.m., they had bared their souls to each other and become good friends. John Highes, creator of the critically acclaimed Sixteen Candles, wrote, directed and produced this hilarious and often touching comedy starring Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy. To the outside world they were simply the Jock, the Brain, the Criminal, the Princess and the Kook, but to each other, they would always be The Breakfast Club.
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When I told my son that his school is identical to my school back in the '80s, he scoffed, as teenagers do. I asked him if he ever saw "Breakfast Club". He said he heard of it but never saw it. (Mom gets on her Amazon App immediately, orders the Blu-Ray with One-Click).
A couple days later, it arrives in the mail. I hand it over to my son and say, "Here is your school in movie form"... With a scoff and an eye-roll added for effect, he trudges upstairs and I hear it tossed onto his desk. Fast-forward to a Sunday and he's bored. He graces us with his presence that Sunday afternoon and looks like he has had an epiphany!
"Mom! You're right! That school is EXACTLY like my school!" Sometimes Moms are right. It happens.
I said, "Really? No kidding? Because that was MY high school!".
Thank you "Breakfast Club" and Amazon for giving me a common thread to my son! We parents of teenagers need every nugget we can find!
"The Breakfast Club" is a rather dark comedy/drama, especially in contrast with John Hughes' usual body of work. But it's still a poignant and unflinching look at high school and its cliques, and how youth are shaped by their parents, teachers, and other adults... for better or for worse.
It's Saturday at a Chicago high school, and five students have shown up for a full day of detention for various infractions of the rules. They represent a variety of traditional high school cliques -- Andrew, a star wrestler and the quintessential jock; Brian, a quiet but well-meaning young genius; Claire, an aloof and slightly snobbish prom queen and popular girl; Bender, a foul-mouthed rebel who constantly butts heads with the school principal who oversees the detention; and Allison, a silent and eccentric artist who occasionally acts out for attention. At first the five students bicker and hassle one another, chafing under the jerkish principal's vigil and finding ways to push one another's buttons. But as hijinks ensue and secrets, pasts, and revelations come to light, the students realize they have far more in common than they realized... and the lines between cliques are never as clear-cut as they seem.
Writer/director John Hughes is know for having a fairly light tone in his movies -- "Ferris Beuller's Day Off," "Home Alone," "Sixteen Candles," etc. -- so "Breakfast Club's" darker and even bleak tone may come off as a shock to those used to his sillier comedies. But this tone works for this particular movie, as it's not afraid to deconstruct the typical high school comedy and the various stereotypes that tend to populate said comedies. And it probes deeper into what shapes and influences teenagers than most teen movies do, even if the picture it paints isn't very pretty -- as characters in the film say, "Are we all going to grow up to be like our parents?" and "When you get older, your heart dies." That's not to say the movie isn't without its funny moments, though -- it still elicits plenty of laughs, even if the mood sometimes whiplashes between light and dark and some of the humor is of the "black comedy" variety.
The acting in this film is pretty strong as well. It stars members of the "Brat Pack," a group of young actors especially popular in the '80s -- Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, and Anthony Michael Hall. All of them slip into their respective roles almost effortlessly, and bring genuine pathos to their characters. It would have been all too easy for them to fall into the usual stereotypes, but here even the characters that should be unlikable, like Nelson's foul-mouthed and belligerent Bender, are made sympathetic and relatable. Paul Gleason is deliciously unlikable as the harsh and slightly corrupt Principal Vernon, but I found the janitor character (pretty much the only other notable character in the movie) to be somewhat forgettable.
A well-deserved classic, far more honest and in-depth than most other teen movies. Probably best for ages 15 and up due to swearing, drug use, sexual conversation, and a very blatant (but funny) panty shot.