The 1980’s were a time of great change for America. Ronald Reagan was president, the Cold War had reached new heights of tension, and all across America and even the world, culture was changing. Books, music, art, fashion, comic books, video games, TV, and one of the biggest of all, movies. Every year, every month brought something new to the screen for movie goers; action, romance, science-fiction, drama, comedy, horror, the newly awakened superhero genre. And there were what I like to call the mash-up movies, films that mixed two or even three different genres into one smorgasbord of a story. The Breakfast Club is labeled as a “coming-of-age comedy-drama film” and it certainly lives up to all three of these genres, a big part of that is thanks to its writer/producer/director.
Enter the late John Hughes, a man whose directorial, producer and writing credits are now legendary in the 21st century. Hughes gave the 80’s and 90’s some of its finest films, bringing to life stories that gave realistic and honest depictions of society and life during those decades and The Breakfast Club ranks high on that list.
With a cast of young actors and actresses all playing students from different high school social circles, they spend a Saturday in detention, during that time bonding beyond the social norms that define them in their day-to-day lives.
There’s Anthony Michael Hall as Brian (smart/brain), Ally Sheedy as Allison (loner/basket case), Molly Ringwald as Claire (popular/princess), Emilio Estevez as Andrew (jock/athlete) and Judd Nelson as John (rebellious/criminal). With Paul Gleason as hardcase Vice Principal Vernon and John Kapelos as wisdom-dispensing janitor Carl, the cast for this movie is small, but that’s okay because a smaller cast makes for an all the more powerful story.
A big takeaway from this movie, whether it was back in 1984 or now in 2017, is that people should not be judged by the way they dress or who they are friends with, what their economic status is, what clubs or groups they belong to, or anything when it comes down to it. Because underneath all those outward things, inside each person is basically the same, just packaged differently as they move through life.
Another takeaway is not just that all five of the teens bond beyond their social norms, but something deeper happens too. For Allison and Claire, Andrew and John, they all find love, someone who sees past everything high school has conveyed upon them and loves the true person underneath. Brian finds four new friends that he never had before, people who like Brian for Brian, not just for the grades he gets or the academic achievements.
At the very end when all of them are going their separate ways, and Allison takes Andrew’s state champion patch, Claire gives John one of her diamond earrings, each of these new couples shares a kiss before leaving with their parent. Within those kisses and those tokens is love and the knowledge that each one of them has found someone that gets them.
These days a movie about a bunch of different teens from different social backgrounds all becoming friends seems like it could be a typical story device for Hollywood. And if one takes a close look at the Power Rangers movie, the bonding of the Rangers and how they all first meet up is basically a grab from The Breakfast Club.
John Hughes movies achieve a variety of things thematically, but an overarching theme seen in movies like The Breakfast Club and Pretty In Pink is about tearing down all that classic teen angst and breaking through social constructions, making new friends, finding acceptance where one would not have found it before, and the biggest theme of all, finding love. It’s why John Hughes and his body of work will always remain a favorite in the hearts and minds of audiences, and why anyone can watch one of his movies and gain a whole new outlook on life itself.
To everyone who has seen this movie and loves to re-watch it over and over again, good for you, because this is an 80’s film that should not now, or ever be forgotten. To all who have not seen it yet, may this piece of writing encourage you to get your hands on a copy and watch it as soon as you can. It has something everyone can enjoy and characters that each person can latch on to and cheer on throughout the plot. So make this summer a special one with the movies you watch, and make it extra special by enjoying John Hughes The Breakfast Club, it’ll be worth it.