“The Breakfast Club” might be one of the greatest R-Rated films of all time. Yes, they drop the f-bomb more than just a couple of times. Yes, they tastelessly smoke weed on-screen. And yes, Judd Nelson’s arrogant, swaggering tough-guy character sexually harasses Molly Ringwald’s prom queen character in a very natural way. But they managed to nail it. You isolate a group of people in an enclosed school library, force them to conclude talking to one another, and sooner than later, they exchange dark truths about themselves and develop a new kind of understanding about each other.
Emotional, humorous and sincere, ‘The Breakfast Club’ was a movie that hoped to dig a little deeper into the teenage minds and set free a money-magnet that became one of the most significant 80’s movies ever created. The director, John Hughes, begins the film with each of the five teenagers gathering at Shermer High School on a Saturday morning for detention. He exploits the claustrophobia of a high school library. The stereotypes announce themselves immediately: the Jock from the wrestling team (Emilio Estevez), the class Brain (Anthony Michael Hall), the Prom Queen (Molly Ringwald), the swaggering Criminal (Judd Nelson) and the insecure, neurotic Basket Case (Ally Sheedy).
Also, we are introduced to another stereotype; the mean overbearing Teacher (Paul Gleason). These five angered kids have nothing in common and have an aggressive need not have anything in common. Hughes attempts to reconstruct the peculiar ways of teenagers, about how they all have an active disinterest in anything that contrasts with their self-image. These kids aren’t even a tad interested in each other. Not at first anyway.
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Truths are exchanged in the nine hours of bickering, smoking, crying, threatening, and eventually, touching self-revelations. These students received the chance to get to know one another and soon began communicating their darkest fears, opening up and developing relationships that wouldn’t dare come to pass during regular school hours even though they all know that at the end of the day, they’ll all fall back into their stereotypical group.
This movie was written and directed by John Hughes. He was also the director of Sixteen Candles (also casting Hall and Ringwald), another movie that tried to make an honest attempt to create the average teenager’s life. Hughes draws from a dense pool of unjustified stereotypes to unify these characters, who fidgets about the day involuntarily breaking down social obstacles. Hughes labels these kids piercingly, cleanly painting the obvious line that divides these kids. Hughes had the drive to reveal to the screen the dramatic breakdown of a teen experience, idealized through crafty monologues and disrespectful communication. There’s no doubt that TBC is a high-tide dark-humoured melodrama.
The only critics in Hughes’ writing are the adult characters; he missed the chance to do the same with stereotypes about adults with the Teacher, Mr. Vernon. Mr. Vernon is almost comical in how mean-spirited he is. He is one-dimensional and one-note, who is more put off by kids than anything. During a scene with Mr. Vernon and the janitor, Carl, Hughes attempts to get inside the head of the teacher, but what actually happened was in one brief scene, they began talking with a potted philosophical talk that wasn’t really necessary.
Hughes missed the chance to develop this character but dropped it when he realized that his target audience had zero interest in a non-stereotypical teacher. All in all, it is a neat little 80’s film that was achieved with a beautiful, modest effort. It’s a deep story about teenage communication, hesitant friendships, and at the heart of it all, it gives a sincere moving message about our society that is often disregarded. In the end, all five of them might be back with their kind. But how you see the ending is due to which stereotype you feel represents you the most.