John Hughes directs Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald and Judd Nelson in this kids in detention teen classic.
Hughes’ most beloved work can be a little too bluntly emotional and self involved in some sequences yet still shows a rare genuine sensitivity now not really explored in teen movies today. Yes, The Breakfast Club has itself dated in attitudes and look but that is part of its charm. Hughes captured the brutish, immature cool of being a kid… exploring your personality and style and attitude and the other sex. This has to be clumsy and raw and rude and awkward because of it. Teenagers are. No defence is necessary. The dialogues are spectacular battles, full of Wilder-esque wit and Sorkin-esque escalation. They swipe at each other, wound and counter. And in the hard earned moments of reprieve or common ground the heart of the film emerges. Let’s look at those iconic performances. Judd Nelson must have sold his soul to the devil. One great showcase and nothing of note ever again. That was his cruel bargain, the monumental John Bender was his prize and his price. Paul Gleason is the perfect villian – the Barry Manilow dressed beta male in authority, who only has his reputation and petty punitive power to hold onto. Molly Ringwald has to play the straightman to all the antics but is a strong foil. Emilio Estevez actually gets the most comedy beats as the jock… the easiest stereotype to satire. His never ending lunch bag is a perfect visual gag, for example. Anthony Michael Hall gets to do all the emotional heavy lifting… in a monologue about an elephant lamp. And Ally Sheedy is uncategorically amazing in this. Sexier as the freak enigma than the made-over princess… but fiddlydee. Some of us prefer a basket case, the Eighties kids needed a Cinderella moment that we no longer value.