Saturday, March 24, 1984. Shermer High School, Shermer Illinois, 60062. It’s 7am and the halls are vacant of the usual hurried feet of students.
There are few movies that can hold up against the test of time quite like a John Hughes film. After making his directorial debut with Sixteen Candles, Hughes cemented his mark on film history with The Breakfast Club. No director was able to narrate the teenage experience in the 80’s quite like Hughes.
Five utterly different individuals forced to serve Saturday morning detention in their school’s library, sets the premise of the film. A brain, played by Anthony Michael Hall, an athlete (Emilio Estevez), a basket case (Ally Sheedy), a princess (Molly Ringwald), and a criminal (Judd Nelson). This Brat Pack of actors would see themselves in many more memorable teen movies, and some would work with Hughes again, notably Ringwald and Hall.
Unlike Sixteen Candles, the budget for Hughes second film was estimated at what can now be seen as a moderate $1 million. All being filmed in one location, the majority of the movie was shot in the school’s library.
The Breakfast club shows the confusing and pressure-filled lives of teenagers through five high school stereotypes in a cute PG package.
The film is honest in a way that many teen movies at the time were not. It touches of subjects like social pressure, the need to be accepted, sexuality and more. Although these topics are explored in a very vanilla way, it still opened up the conversation. A feature like this would never be made today. Its simplicity would be seen as a disadvantage when compared to the likes of Lady Bird or The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which are layered with life changing decisions that go beyond who will still be friends come Monday morning. However, at the time it was indeed groundbreaking. Instead of being funny and filled with misadventure, or the impossible love affairs of outcasts and the cool kids, this film shows a more truthful version of teens, and it’s remarkable. Although there are some notable hiccups featuring an unwanted face between the legs.
There’s something forever relatable about teenagers who would otherwise not cross paths, being brought together and realising that they have much more in common than they thought. Watching the film, you’re either a teen navigating you’re way through a world that doesn’t get you yet, or well into your adult years, remember what it was like to be that athlete or basket case figuring out who you really were.
With a fist raised in the air walking across the football field, the afternoon sky as a backdrop, and Simple Minds singing “Don’t you forget about me”. Well we haven’t, and we never will.
It’s been decades, but there’s no doubt that The Breakfast Club can still hold a spot high on any list of teen movies.