Sunday, 7 September 2014

The Breakfast Club

Title: The Breakfast Club
Director: John Hughes
Released: 1985
Starring: Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald
Plot: Five students are thrown together as they are forced to attend a Saturday morning detention. With each of them coming from a different clique, they seemingly on the surface has nothing in common with each other, while being assigned a 1,000 word essay by assistant principle Vernon, were they have to write about who they think they are.  Now forced to stay within the confines of the school library the group soon start to find out more about each other and their reasons for being there, while discovering that they might not be as different from each other as they first thought.

Review: Recently I discovered one of the quickest ways to cause mass outrage on the internet is not via commenting on religion or politics, but more surprisingly by posting that you have never seen “The Breakfast Club” that you will find yourself soon being bombarded with comments of disbelief. So there you have it, I confess I’m that person as for one reason or another I never saw this movie until recently.

One the most popular films of 80’s legend John Hughes, who would go on to be responsible for some of the most fondly remembered films of the decade including Sixteen Candles, Pretty In Pink and Uncle Buck, while also creating here one of the most popular high school movies of all time, which isn’t bad going seeing how this was only his second film.

Still perhaps because I didn’t grow up with this movie like so many of its fans, it’s certainly a strange experience to view this film without the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia and perhaps because of that I found this a hard film to get into. More so when it just feels so dated not so much in the styling but more with the dialogue and characterization. True the characters might still represent social groups which are still ever present in high school here represented by “criminal” John (Nelson), “athlete” Andrew (Estevez), “brain” Brian (Hall), “basket case” Allison (Sheedy) and “princess” Claire (Ringwald), or perhaps it was just the grating voice over by Nelson were he reels off a monologue which sounds like it was written by a first year psychology, especially after the film already opens with a quote from “Changes” by David Bowie, that just put the film on the wrong footing for me.

As the film goes on its hard to say that a great deal really happens outside of John aggravating the various members or vice principle Vernon whenever given a chance or generally probing the other group members with his continual questions. Meanwhile Hughes characterisation is laid on with a trowel so thick that the characters often come across only as individual as their assigned social clique, hence John spends all his time moodily sulking around, while unleashing details of a bleak homelife, while Andrew and Claire share their own issues with their own parents, as they reveal that things might not be as perfect for them as they might seem. Meanwhile other members of the group such as Allison are left largely undeveloped and frequently half baked, especially considering how for the first half of the film is generally reduced to a bunch of nonsensical squeeks, before randomly changing conditions so that they randomly becomes quite chatty by the second half of the film, something which is frequently defended by the fans as being down to her being a pathological liar and her way of getting attention, while at the same time keeping people away.

I guess one of my main issues here though is how contrived the ending feels, with the group leaving as best friends, even though they openly admit earlier in the film that come Monday morning, things will be back to normal as they return to their own social groups, rather than facing potential ridicule from their so-called friends. This fact alone makes the whole journey ultimately pointless, but at the same time it is one that seemingly is overlooked by most fans, much like the forced hook ups at the end, especially between Allison and Andrew who have no romantic intrest in each other whatsoever, yet their surprise kiss outside of the school is shot like something we have supposedly been waiting to see. It is also frustrating how the group work out all their issues via a pot smoking session, another big gripe from myself due to my own personal politics and how it generally sells the idea that any issue can be resolved with a big enough bag of weed.

So now I have finally watched it, I can’t say that it was the life changing experience I think the fans sold me, yet at the same time it is good to be able to cross it off the list. I just can’t help but feel that high school life has been done better elsewhere and without giving the end goal away before the halfway point.

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