Many films of yesteryear fade into the mists of time, forgotten by all but a handful of avid advocates. They are stuck in the decade that spawned them, full of pop references and cultural ambiance that fails to transmit through the intervening period of the then and now. Some however resonate with a timeless grace, as meaningful for today’s audience as they were for the very first viewers all those moons ago.
One such example is The Breakfast Club: written by Mr 80’s himself, John Hughes. The Michigan born writer/director is responsible for such eighties classics as; Ferries Bueller’s Day Off, Weird Science, Uncle Buck, Planes Trains and Automobiles and err Pretty in Pink. It is however his story about five unacquainted school pupils, sentenced to a Saturday in detention, that echoes through the ages; not constantly funny, at times pedestrian and full of the schmaltz that Hollywood loves so much.
Everyone was a teenager at some point, everyone once felt that they didn’t belong with the rest of the class, everyone has hated school or despised their predicament. These feelings are harnessed expertly by Hughes as he focuses on a microcosm of the education system with a screenplay that took him only two days to complete.
The broadly painted archetypes that Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy and Anthony Michael Hall portray can all be found in any place of learning across width and breadth of this fine land, granted not in such expansive strokes but that is what makes them so identifiable.
We all know a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. We all fit, in some form, into each category. The labels might have changed but life is still a place full of cliques and impenetrable groups.
However they are not as simple as first glanced and therein lies the everlasting charm of this 1985 classic. Back-stories are imparted throughout the course of their incarnation, bonds are formed as they reveal the reasons that brought them to detention and preconceived opinions are shook as they try to surpass the social standings they hold.
Along with the young stereotypes we are introduced to a corrupt authority figure, again something that everyone will easily be able to associate with, Paul Gleeson is not given as much screen time but he is a presence, a feared persona that fails to match wits with his charges and results to threats when his decrees are not adhered to.
One moment that fails to sit comfortably is that Ally Sheedy’s Allison is only met with real acceptance after an impromptu make-over, not really the correct message to be sending out to young girls everywhere. Especially considering she was pretty damn hot in her original guise, I digress, throw in that song and you have an iconic movie that really does stand the test of time.