“The Breakfast Club” was released in 1985 and was written & directed by John Hughes. It starred Anthony Michael Hall as Brian (the “Brain”), Emilio Estevez as Andrew (the “Athlete”), Ally Sheedy as Allison (the “Basketcase”), Molly Ringwald as Claire (the “Princess”), and Judd Nelson as John Bender (“the Criminal”). It follows one Saturday in the lives of 5 seemingly different high schoolers in detention who bond and discover that they share more similarities than they first thought.
Despite some of the 80’s clothing, music, and dialogue, this is a largely timeless film. Everyone can relate to at least one of these characters. It’s clear that this genre was always where John Hughes was most comfortable, and thanks to the R-rating, he was able to let loose a little more. He went to darker, more realistic places than he could with “Sixteen Candles” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” and the film’s all the better for it. Also, it’s a testament to John Hughes’ writing and directing abilities that the film is so moving and entertaining even though almost all of the scenes take place in one room, and the reason why it works so well is because of the characters.
A story is nothing without compelling characters, and when you have such phenomenal ones, you give yourself the opportunity to make a film with little plot, and instead focus on development and themes. High School is a brutal, confusing, stressful, and terrifying time in everyone’s life, and this film captures that perfectly. It covered the toxic competitiveness for academics, the bullying from jocks, and parental neglect.
The film addresses these challenges through the characters’ struggles with their home life and their parents, which is really the connecting tissue between them that creates the Breakfast Club. One of the film’s most important messages is the significance of proper parenting. Parenting is an incredibly difficult task, but children, especially teenagers, need to be given adequate attention and empathy. Without those, teenagers like the 5 main characters of this film are the result.
There’s not much else I can say about “The Breakfast Club.” It’s simply a wonderful film that uses its complex characters to portray timeless themes which are some of the most meaningful in cinematic history. This film understood adolescence pitch perfectly, and it’s one of my favorite movies ever made.