One of the iconic teen dramas of the 1980’s, John Hughes’ THE BREAKFAST CLUB still holds up as a thought-provoking and engaging film and in many ways still quite relevant now almost 30 years later.
Five teenagers; a “jock” (Emilio Estevez), a “princess” (Molly Ringwald); a “criminal” (Judd Nelson), a “brain” (Anthony Michael Hall) and a “basket case” (Ally Sheedy) are thrown together for Saturday detention in their High School library.
Teacher Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason) is tasked with making sure they learn something from their misdeeds and gives them the assignment of writing an essay about who they think they are.
Left to their own devices, the five “stereotypes” are at first at each other’s throats but as the long day drones on, they each learn that maybe they aren’t so different from each other after all.
What amounts to a “talking heads” film that feels at times like a filmed play, THE BREAKFAST CLUB succeeds because of excellent direction and great performances from some of the most appealing up & coming actors of their generation. They would go on to be known as part of the “Brat Pack.”
Known for his ability to get to the heart of the teen experience, John Hughes’ ear for dialogue is quite impressive and even though it borders on melodrama at times, the film still manages to create a heartfelt experience.
I was concerned that the film would not age well, but I was surprised at how much it didn’t, as the themes are still timely and universal.
The only thing that I was surprised at was (now as an adult with kids) how I could see things from Vernon’s perspective. He’s a bit of an insufferable bastard and is played as the main antagonist, but some of the things he says make a lot of sense.
I might be getting older (and wiser) but unlike Sheedy’s vilification that “When you grow up, your heart dies,” I still can be touched and profoundly affected by a film like THE BREAKFAST CLUB even though I’m closer in age to the teachers than the students.