It has been thirty years since The Breakfast Club entered our world but it still is a firm favourite of mine so I have compiled thirty reasons why it's still awesome!
I'm a 90's kid by five days...and I have a real complex about it. Five days!!!!!!!!
Growing up I always had this obsession with the 80's with a steely resolve that I was supposed to be born in that decade. I still do. At Karaoke, you could bet money that I will be cracking out Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time. When I was eight my Dad bought me Bananarama's Greatest Hits and on Halloween, I would dance around the living room to Annie, I'm Not Your Daddy by Kid Creole & The Coconuts.
But more than that, I should have been a teenager in the 80's. Watching, The Breakfast Club for the first time when I was about fifteen only confirmed this wish even further. It's more than a coming of age story. I think the reason for its appeal lies somewhere in its exploration that we are more than the social stereotypes bestowed upon us and the personas we put on to fit in. Underneath it all, we all have the same human emotions and struggles. Underneath it all, we are all a Brain, an Athlete, a Basket case, a Princess and a Criminal...
Here are thirty reasons why The Breakfast Club is just so goddamn awesome:
1.The Opening Titles
As soon as you hear the opening drums of Simple Mind's Don't You Forget About Me you just know it's going to be good. By the time the "Hey Hey Hey Hey Ooooooooooooowoooow" kicks in you're already on board with whatever this film will throw at you.
2. Shermer High School
The fictional town of Shermer, Illinois plays a huge part in all of John Hughes' films. This small town just outside of Chicago has played home to Ferris Bueller and was also the setting for other John Hughes films, Sixteen Candles & Weird Science. You can't help thinking that Andrew and Claire would hang with Jake Ryan or maybe Ferris Bueller and Bender probably crossed paths in detention once in a while or that Brian would be friends with Geek and Gary Wallace.*
* all played by Anthony Michael Hall.
3. The Brain
Speaking of Antony Michael Hall, let's start with Brian.
I always had a soft spot for Brian because he is the everyman. He just wants to do right and be nice to everyone along the way. Brian is genuine and the best of them which is why he doesn't really change throughout the course of the film. Whereas the others change their appearance and/or their attitude to one another...he just gains four friends and maybe a little more confidence.
4. The Basket Case
The blueprint for the classic make over the weird-unnoticed-outcast- girl so the popular guy will fall in love with her. Laney Boggs from She's All That has nothing on Allison Reynolds. Every time I watch it, the subtle stealing of their stuff makes me smile so much. I've come across characters who exaggerate and accentuate their lives to try to be outrageous when really all they want is to be heard and appreciated but Alley Sheedy plays this part down to a T. The feminist in me does wonder is why does she need to change for a man? But really she's changing for herself and in the end when she rips off Andrew's badge on his jacket you know that she's still the same weird kleptomaniac but with less Kohl eyeliner.
5. The Athlete
Emilio Estevez is the guy you could take home to meet your parents. He was just so cute in St. Elmo's Fire. Andrew's the straight laced guy that probably keeps a breathalyser in his car so he can check when he can drive home the next morning after a house party. You end up hoping he ruins his knee so he can't compete anymore which is such a not a good thing to hope for a character. You just want him to get out and stand up to his father with his cool 'alternative' girlfriend on his arm.
6. The Princess
From the Ralph Lauren outfit, the diamond earrings to the Sushi for lunch. Yes, even the most popular girl in school has her off days.
But we don't hate or despise Claire. Over the course of the film, we actually feel sorry for her that she's used for her status. Whether it's her divorced parents vying for her love with gifts or the 'friends' she hangs out with. It makes the scene when Brian asks 'What happens on Monday?" when they're back at school even more heart-wrenching.
7. The Criminal
John Bender is the dreamiest of 'bad boys'. A rule breaker in every way. Will forever be in detention. Covering up for his awful home life. The one you wouldn't take home to your parents...well unless you are Claire.
"Do you know how you said before that your parent's use you to get back at each other? Well, wouldn't I be outstanding in that capacity?"- Bender
Yes, yes you would. Swoons.
8. Judd Nelson
Did you know, Judd Nelson's iconic costume was actually the same outfit he wore when we turned up at his audition?!
Oh readers, I hope you are aware that this list could have easily just been me listing 30 things about Judd Nelson?! But I will contain myself. Just.
9. Molly Ringwald.
Finally, a cool popular girl who was a redhead and who didn't shy away from wearing pink! This was also firmly established in Hughes' Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles. Gingers of the world unite! I still aspire to be Molly Ringwald to this very day. You should too. She is awesome. Taylor Swift agrees with me and her word is law; right?
10. Ally Sheedy is just too cool.
Did you know Ally Sheedy turned up to a Sixteen Candles audition with a black eye from an accident on a set, which is why Hughes remembered her when casting for Allison?! I bet she rocked it too.
11. Peer Pressure
This film brings up the subject of peer pressure in all forms. Brian and Andrew face similar a problem. To succeed they need to be the best in their fields; Brian academically and Andrew in sport. Not only do they face intense pressure from their parents but it is the added pressure they put on themselves to succeed that cripples them and lands them in detention.
For me, one of the reasons why John Hughes was such a good director, was his confidence in bringing out the best in his actors. The scene where the character's share their deepest secrets was improvised. A lesser director might have struggled to risk such an important part of the script being ad-libbed but the performances he gets are second to none. The actors must have trusted him to know what he was doing.
13. The Brat Pack
It's a well known fact that The Breakfast Club contains some of the leading members of "The Brat Pack". The gang of actors also included Demi Moore, Andrew McCartney and Rob Lowe. Even though they hated the name...it was the original #squadgoals.
14. Brian's Family
The family that drop and pick up Brian from detention are played by Antony Michael Hall's real mother and sister. His father is played by the director himself, John Hughes. How meta.
15. Smoking Oregano
Did you know they were actually smoking the herb so to speak!?
16. David Bowie.
Ally Sheedy famously suggested to John Hughes the lyrics from Changes.
17. The Improvised Punch in the air
Ad-libbed and truly iconic.
18. Write About What You Know
John Hughes apparently wrote The Breakfast Club in two days and it is inspired by his high school and the title was taken from a nickname the kids (and teachers) gave detention at the school of a friends' son. Other possible title: The Lunch Bunch anyone? I don't think so.
19. Simple Minds
So good. It bookmarks the film. The song speaks for itself so...
20. Bender and Claire: Parallel Universe
Emilio Estevez was originally supposed to Bender and Molly Ringwald was supposed to be Allison? Just wrong. John Cusack, Nicolas Cage also auditioned for Bender and Laura Dern, Jodie Foster and Robin Wright had auditioned for Claire.
Can we just take a minute to imagine Nicolas Cage as Bender acting out the Christmas at the Bender Household scene please? So wrong on so many levels.
21. The essay
I do not cry at things in films. I did not even cry watching Toy Story 3. But when Brian and the gang narrate the letter at the end I always tear up. It's message is strong and on point and universally sums up what it feels like to be stereotyped as a teenager.
Dear Mr. Vernon.We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was that we did wrong. What we did WAS wrong. But we think you're crazy to make us write this essay telling you who we think we are, what do you care? You see us as you want to see us.. in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Correct? That's the way we saw each other at seven o'clock this morning. We were brainwashed..
22. Broken Glass
John Hughes had said before that one of the things he regrets in the film is the shattered glass effect on the door when Andrew is smoking. This fact gives me some comfort as a filmmaker. That even in one of my favourite films, the director still has things he would change with hindsight. I don't even mind the shattered glass and the sound effect. It definitely dates it as an 80's effect but as we have established that doesn't bother me at all!
23. Its homages in TV and Film
There are too many to count but this is my personal favourite:
"Do you remember when we decided to go as The Breakfast Club but failed to co-ordinate our costumes?" - How I Met Your Mother
24. Mr Vernon.
Mr Vernon was an evil teacher. You can imagine even the other teachers would've hated him. But he makes for a brilliant villain and remember...
"Don't mess with the bull young man. You'll get the horns"- Mr. Vernon
25. Dance Party
Claire was suppose to dance alone but Molly Ringwald was too nervous so they all danced together. Fitting then that they are dancing to We Are Not Alone by Karla DeVito.
26. Self contained story.
This film is a character piece. Down to what the character's have for lunch, the way they arrive to detention, the car's their parent's drive.
It follows a "One day. One time. One place" structure and was rehearsed and shot in sequence, much like a piece of theatre. Later, Hughes adapted it as a play for high school kids.
27. The Breakfast Club Saga
The original plan was to see these characters get back together every ten years of their life but this never came into fruition due to Nelson falling out with Hughes. Personally, I am quite glad because this film is so self-contained and that time frame of them as teenagers is so pivotal. Would we love a film about forty or sixty year old versions of them contemplating their future and their past? Probably not. Better not mess with a good thing.
28. The Janitor a.k.a. Their Fairy Godmother.
I always knew Carl the Janitor would come up good and when he confronts Vernon going through the student files, Vernon gets his comeuppance. It just goes to show you the detail of the backstories Hughes created for the characters and the bittersweet irony that former 'Man of the Year' at the school is now the janitor. Life can suck.
29. John Hughes
John Hughes wrote and directed some of my favourite films but The Breakfast Club clinches the title as my favourite with Ferris Bueller's Day Off a close second. He's taped into that special something that makes viewers nostalgic and hopefully for the future at the same time. Magical.
This film has aged so well and still relevant and enjoyable today. See you in another 30 years?