Movie: The Breakfast Club
Release Date: February 15, 1985
Director: John Hughes
Starring: Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Paul Gleason, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy.
Tag Lines: “They only met once, but it changed their lives forever.”
“They were five total strangers, with nothing in common, meeting for the first time. A brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel and a recluse. Before the day was over, they broke the rules. Bared their souls. And touched each other in a way they never dreamed possible.”
“Five strangers with nothing in common, except each other.”
Relevance: High School wasn’t a great time for me. For starters, I went to a very small Catholic high school in Northeastern Pennsylvania. That should sum it up right about there. But there was more. On the one hand, I was a class officer my Junior and Senior year, I had a good solid circle of friends , I got decent grade (graduated with honors, thank you very much) and my overall time there could be seen as an average, normal privileged experience. On the other hand, I was terribly uncomfortable in my skin and was bullied from day one. For every great memory I have during those four years, I have five horrible and terrifying ones to combat them. So I often didn’t think about it.
My real saving graces during those years (and ones that definitely still help out today) were music and movies. I spent many hours listening, singing and dancing to music. When I wasn’t doing that, I was watching movies. Both of them were complete escapes for me, but also helped me deal with a lot of those teen angst issues that I was enduring. John Hughes’ films seemed to help out the most. He was like the therapist that I never went to but definitely needed.
‘The Breakfast Club’ was released in February of 1985 to critical acclaim. It was also very well received by audiences and became a box office success. I was thirteen, going on fourteen at the time and finishing up my last year of grade school. Being an R-rated film, I did not see the film in theaters nor do I really remember the marketing behind it. That is, except for MTV.
Right around the time the movie was released, Simple Minds released a song called “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” that was getting a lot of radio and MTV airplay. It was a catchy, melancholy rock song that I loved listening to over and over again. I especially loved the lyrics to the song and it became one of my favorites that year. I wasn’t alone. It was also a very popular song in the United States, eventually hitting number one on the Billboard charts. The video showed scenes from the movie which gave me my first glimpse of the movie.
I am guessing that I finally saw ‘The Breakfast Club’ sometime later that year or early in 1986 via a rental from Blockbuster. I remember watching the movie at least with my mom, but there may have been other family members present as well. I also remember being very intrigued by the movie and thinking that it could have been filmed in my high school. I knew these characters. I was these characters. Well, at least two of them. I was probably more of “the brain” outwardly, but felt a lot like “the basket case” on the inside. I instantly lost myself in the movie and not only laughed, but was moved by a lot of the sentiment that was pouring out from the screen. Amazing these were my inner thoughts but said much more eloquently by much more attractive people. But boy oh boy, did I ever relate.
The film became one of my family’s “recorded on a blank VHS” movies in our collection thanks to HBO and one that I watched over and over again. It just never got old. It was one of those movies that if I was having a bad day, I could put it on and just forget about my problems. I always had a feeling of everything was going to be okay after watching it. And you know what, it was. The movie resurfaced again my Senior year in High School.
Like I already mentioned. I went to a Catholic school, and there was always a “Senior Retreat” day where the entire class was taken away in buses to some religious retreat house where we reflected, prayed, took part in a mass before being bussed back home. Part of our “reflection” period was watching ‘The Breakfast Club,” after which we had discussions and exercises regarding its themes. Being a Catholic retreat, the movie was very edited, but despite that, still enjoyable. On the bus ride home, there was a sense of unity I felt for the first time with my classmates. It only lasted the duration of the bus ride, but for once I felt accepted, appreciated and loved by everyone, even those that bullied me. Granted these feelings did not last, but for one shining moment I felt like part of “the club.” I always thanked the movie for that.
‘The Breakfast Club’ represents John Hughes’ fifth and final movie on my list of most influential movies of all time (see 285. Weird Science, 91. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 85. Sixteen Candles and 81. Planes, Trains and Automobiles for the first three). Not only were there five movies, but four of them were in the top one hundred. That just reinforces the fact of how important his cinematic contributions have meant to me and to my life. He was a fantastic writer and director and really knew how to capture what it was like to be a teenager growing up in the 1980’s. Thank you Mr. Hughes. For everything.
Today’s Thoughts: “Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us – in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…and an athlete…and a basket case…and a princess…and a criminal. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.”
When I turned on ‘The Breakfast Club’ this morning, America still did not have a President-elect. But I thought to myself that after watching the movie, everything would be okay, just like I felt when I was a teenager. And you know what, it was. After the movie, we finally had an election result. Joe Biden and Kamal Harris will be leading our country and the orange stain that tarnished our country for the last four years will be removed. Everything will be okay.
I watched the movie today with my husband and despite being a forty-nine year old man, I was still able to relate to all of those teenage feelings by everyone in the cast. That is in huge part to the great screenplay by John Hughes. It is also in part to the perfect “brat pack” cast that as well. Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall and Ally Sheedy are sheer perfection. I am still the brain and the basket case, but I do love all of them collectively.
‘The Breakfast Club’ is a classic film. Period. Its humor and heart have helped make the teenage years for many a little bit easier. It may have even helped a few adults as well. More importantly, it entertains. I will always hold the film and John Hughes very close to my heart and I won’t, won’t won’t ever forget about them.
Awards: National Film Registry (2016).
Ways to Watch: YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Prime, DVD Availability.