In honor of John Hughes, I thought I would talk about “The Breakfast Club” this time. It is my favorite movie of his (he wrote and directed it). May he Rest in Peace.
One Saturday in 1984, five students are arriving at their high school to serve detention, all 9 hours of it (yikes … that’s harsh). One is a detention regular, the others are not. They come from different social groups at school and don’t have anything in common (at least not that they are aware of).
John (Judd Nelson) is the detention regular (aka the criminal). He is a pot smoking, trouble making, tough guy with a f*ck you attitude. He isn’t interesting in making friends with any of the others and he really doesn’t deal well with authority figures.
Claire (Molly Ringwald) is the popular, homecoming queen sort (aka the princess). Her parent’s are rich. She always has the perfect/trendy clothes, accessories (like expensive diamond earrings) and even lunches (i.e. sushi). She also has a superior attitude.
Andrew (Emilio Estevez) is a star wrestler (aka the athlete). Due to this, he is also in the popular crowd. He and Claire are the only ones that could be considered friends (or at least in the same social circle). He is someone that follows the rules most of the time (obviously he did something wrong to end up in detention).
Brian (Anthony Michael Hall) is the smart guy (aka the brain). He gets straight A’s, belongs to several academic clubs and puts school first. He is driven to excel and doesn’t deal well with anything below perfect.
Allison (Ally Sheedy) is a bit unusual (aka the basketcase). She keeps herself removed from the others in the room. In fact she doesn’t even speak to them for probably the first half of the movie. No one is quite sure what to think about her.
They are all supposed to sit in their chairs the entire day. They are not supposed to speak, sleep or basically do much of anything. Although, this time around, Principal Vernon decides to do something a little different and assigns them a 1,000 word essay. The subject is “who they are”.
As you can imagine it doesn’t take very long for all the rules to be broken. John in particular has great difficulty behaving himself. He takes a screw out of the door leading into the library so that it won’t stay open. Thus making it impossible for the principal to easily look in on them without them noticing. John also smokes cigarettes, tears books apart (they are in the library), picks on the others and generally causes trouble.
As the day progresses, we learn more about each of the students. What they did to end up in detention, what their families are like, their views of the social structure at school and how they fit into it. The day becomes a learning/growth experience for all involved.
This is really a great ensemble cast. Each actor is well suited to their role and really brings them to life. However, I have to say my favorite is Judd. His role was very intense. He had to be tough and a bit larger than life, but also have his vulnerability slip through at times. I thought he did a fantastic job.
Some of my favorite scenes (without being too spoilery):
The lunch scene was great. Seeing what everyone had for lunch gave us a good look into their personalities. Andrew’s cracked me up, I think he had enough food for 4 people there. Of course, Allison’s was just bizarre; she replaced the lunchmeat in her sandwich with Pixie Stick powder and Captain Crunch Cereal (yuck!).
I liked when they traded wallets/purses with each other and then looked through the contents. It helped them to start opening up and learning about the person they switched with.
They are all loosened up after smoking some of John’s pot. Then they decide to play music (very loudly I might add) through the audio system in the library and all wildly dance around. It’s one of those scenes that forever sticks in your mind.
I really liked that the movie started and ended with the same song, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds.
Some of my favorite quotes:
John – “Sweets, you couldn’t ignore me if you tried.”
John – “I don’t have it. Screws fall out all the time. The world is an imperfect place.”
John – “Dork, you are a parent’s wet dream.”
Andrew – “I’ve seen her dehydrate sir, it’s pretty gross.”
Brian – “Could you describe the ruckus sir?”
John – “How come you have so much sh*t in your purse?”
Claire – “How come you have so many girlfriends?”
John – “I asked you first.”
Claire – “I don’t know, I guess I never throw anything away.”
John – “Neither do I.”
Andrew – “This is the worst fake id I’ve ever seen. Do you realize you made yourself 68?”
Allison – “Wanna see what’s in my bag?”
Andrew & Brian – “No!”
Brian – “And, you want to get in on this? Allison here says she wants to run away because her home life is unsatisfying.”
Andrew – “Well, everyone’s home life is unsatisfying. And if it wasn’t people would live with their parents forever.”
Following is additional information about the show that contains spoilers. If you don’t want to be spoiled don’t read any further.
The scene when both Andrew and Brian admit to why they are there is wonderful. It is so emotional and you really feel for both of them. Both of the actors did a great job.
I will always love when John is sneaking out of the closet that he was locked in. He is on his hands and knees crawling across the ceiling while telling himself a joke. Then the ceiling gives way and he suddenly falls into the room below.
Claire giving John one of her diamond earrings as they are leaving and then John kissing her is so sweet. It’s a lovely way to end the movie. Then showing John walking across the field and raising his fist into the air. Over the years it has become such an iconic image for this movie.