The Breakfast Club
Dir: John Hughes
"Sushi! You won't accept a guy's tongue in your mouth, and you're going to eat that!"
A John Hughes classic, an eighties classic and, well... just a classic film.
John Hughes is at his most pure and raw here. He eschews plot, location, effects, subplots, and minor characters.
What we are left with is like a distilled essence of Hughes.
We meet five high school students who spend almost the entire film in one room.
They represent five common characters that we might all remember from school; the jock, the rebel, the nerd, the princess and the freak.
It does not take us long to work out which is which, and initially we see them as everyone sees them and as they see each other - as stereotypes.
Normally, these five characters would not know each other, would have no interest in each other, and would not spend any time together.
However, when they all forced together in the school detention room, they must deal with each other.
As they learn about what lies beneath the stereotypes, so do we.
And along the way, we explore prejudice, discrimination, social and class differences, and the value of tolerance and acceptance.
Critics were somewhat divided on 'Breakfast Club'.
The Variety critic wrote,
"When the causes of the Decline of Western Civilization are finally writ, Hollywood will surely have to answer why it turned one of man’s most significant art forms over to the self-gratification of high-schoolers. Or does director John Hughes really believe, as he writes here, that ‘when you grow up, your heart dies.’ It may. But not unless the brain has already started to rot with films like this."
The reaction is understandable. The problems of teenagers seem very small and petty to adult film critics dealing with the big issues; birth,death, war, poverty, etc.
However, to dismiss these films is to overlook the fact that those same teenagers grow up to be the parents, employers and leaders of the future, and the problems they take with them become the problems of the world. The real issues that Hughes explores are things like prejudice, discrimination, intolerance, loneliness and social disparity. These issues are often at the core of the world's problems.
In recent years, some critics have re-evaluated John Hughes' work.
The Village Voice wrote in 2010,
"Over the years, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Voice hasn't been terribly kind to the late John Hughes-father of the modern teen dramedy... Dear John, wherever you are: We were wrong."