The Breakfast Club Turns 30: Saturday March 24th, 1984. That was the official date for the Sherman High school detention class in ‘The Breakfast Club.’ Where’d the time go?
Exactly 30 years ago today, the detention class in writer/director John Hughes’ adolescent angst masterpiece ‘The Breakfast Club’ came into session. Does that make you feel old? Huh? Do I stutter?
The genius of the film lied in its mix of comedy and drama, showing both the pathos and absurdities of teenage life in the 80’s.
Through a simple tale of a Saturday high school detention class, the film showed all (at least most of) the basic food groups that make up the adolescent demographic; a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal.
Hughes’ screenplay was frank enough to show that kids will only separate from their cliques when forced too. There was no telegraphed happy ending for adolescent unity. But there was a beautiful honesty in that, at least for a moment they earned each other’s begrudging respect.
But words and direction will only take you so far; it helped that the cast perfectly embodied their roles. Anthony Michael Hall was painfully endearing as the dork, Estevez made for a likable meathead, and Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy and Molly Ringwald all brought levels of authenticity to their characters.
As someone who was in high school when ‘The Breakfast Club’ came out, it was a lightning rod to assuage my adolescent awkwardness. I felt somewhere in-between Hall’s nerd and Nelson’s outcast. And I think anyone who saw it felt at least a connection with one of the characters.
And let’s not forget the soundtrack, especially the youth anthem ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’, which was performed by Simple Minds. An effervescent airy take on the aching need for recognition, it was initially offered to Billy Idol, and then Bryan Ferry. But both passed. Where once it conjured adolescent turmoil, it, and the film, now serves as 80’s nostalgia for those who lived it, and a curious time capsule for those who came afterwards.
When I watch the film now, no longer a kid, and well into middle-age, I no longer see Principal Vernon as the enemy, nor Carl the janitor as a dork. Sure they both are flawed, but one understands their motivation.
Principal Vernon; These kids turned on me…they think I’m a big fuckin’ joke.
Carl: Come on…listen Vern, if you were sixteen, what would you think of you, huh?
No generation likes to feel like time is passing them by, and that they can no longer err on the side of youth, and I think much of Generation X feels that sting more than most. We never trusted authority in the aftermath of Watergate and the false façade of wholesomeness in the Reagan era. And ‘The Breakfast Club’ summed that up perfectly.
It would be fascinating to see a sequel that would tackle where we stand now; still railing against the sense of entitlement by baby boomers, and slightly jealous and unsure of millennials, who have far more social safeguards and an innate sense of self-esteem than many of us did. The tools for diagnosing learning disorders and for buffering self-worth in those formative years weren’t as developed then as they are now.
We still feel like misfits, but we’re starting to own it now. It’s a curious place to be.
And since Hughes died in 2009, it would be a terrible idea to try anyways. What we’d be more likely cursed with, is a remake, which would probably be with a cast of folks way too pretty and polished to resonate. That would miss the point entirely. I’m sure one is coming. Meh.
So ‘Breakfast Club’ fans, which characters did you relate to most, and do you still? Or are you feeling more like Principle Vernon these days? Tell me in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions in the comments.
If you’d like to own ‘Breakfast Club’ on Blu-ray or get the soundtrack, click on the images below to purchase on Amazon:
[amazon_image id=”B001AEF6BI” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Breakfast Club (Flashback Edition)[/amazon_image][amazon_image id=”B000002GD4″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Breakfast Club: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack[/amazon_image]