Monday, April 20, 2015

Don't You Forget About Me

The Breakfast Club
Director: John Hughes
Cast: Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy, Paul Gleason
Released: February 15, 1985

Think back to March 24, 1984. Do you remember what you were doing that day? (Why do I feel like Sarah Koenig?) It's very possible that you were way too young (such as myself) or weren't even born yet! Even if you were around back then, you probably don't remember since it was over thirty years ago! Hell, I can't even remember what I was doing 30 days ago! But for five students at Shermer High School, that was the day they had detention all day on a Saturday. (I did double check on my iCalendar (it took awhile to go back that far!) and yes, indeed March 24 was on a Saturday in 1984!) And it was, quite possibly, the day that changed their lives (not trying to be overdramatic or anything!)

The five students in question all represent a different high school stereotype. There's Andrew, the jock (played by Emilio Estevez); Claire, the popular rich girl or the "princess" (played by Molly Ringwald); Bender (first name, John), the rebel or the "criminal" (played by Judd Nelson); Brian, the smart kid or the "brain" (played by Anthony Michael Hall); and Alison, the weird girl or the "basket case" (played by Ally Sheedy).

Confession time: I had never seen The Breakfast Club before. At least not in its entirety. I have only seen it in bits and pieces on TV and it always seems to be the same scenes I see: the montage of them in the hallways trying to avoid being caught by the principal (played by Paul Gleason) and the famous dance scene where they're all dancing like dorks to a song I didn't even know. (Who dances like that?!) I had always known they played "Don't You Forget About Me" (Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!) at the end, but I didn't know they played it at the beginning too. I also had no idea that song was specifically written and sung for this movie! I've always associated the song with the movie, but I just thought it was a popular song that was already released when they made the movie and they just used the song since it was so popular and thus it became synonymous with the film.

I was very young when this movie was released. I cannot relate to the '80s teenager. Even in the next decade when I was a teen, I still could not relate to any of these characters because I don't have anything in common with any of them and I wasn't any of the stereotypes that are represented by them. None of the actors were ever on my radar. Of course I knew that Molly Ringwald was the quintessential '80s teen movie star (and I haven't seen any of her other movies!) The only thing I knew Anthony Michael Hall from was when he played Rusty in National Lampoon's Family Vacation a couple years before Breakfast Club. For something more recent, he had a small part in The Dark Knight, but I don't remember who he played because it's been a few years since I've seen that. I'm sure he looked a lot different since he was significantly older! Emilio Estevez, of course, will always be the coach from the Mighty Ducks to me. That was the generation I grew up with. When I saw that movie as a 12 year old, was I thinking, "Oh, the coach is the jock from The Breakfast Club!" Hell, no! I didn't know he was in The Breakfast Club; I probably didn't even know what it was...well, I probably had heard of it by then but I certainly didn't know who was in it. Speaking of the Mighty Ducks, there was an episode of Dawson's Creek where the four main characters have detention (and how convenient that happened! At least in Breakfast Club, they don't all know each other) and Dawson remarks how it's just like the Breakfast Club (remember, he was the film nerd) and Jen wants to know what happened to the actors and Pacey (who was played by Joshua Jackson, who of course got his start by playing the main kid in The Mighty Ducks) says something about Emilio Estevez being in those "Duck" movies and how much he loved them. That was some shameless meta lamp shading there! Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy, I couldn't tell you anything else they were in.

The casting was very interesting because originally John Hughes wanted Molly for the part of Alison, but she wanted to play Claire and Emilio was going to play Bender, but Hughes couldn't find anyone to play Andrew, so he switched him to that part. Also, they were thinking of Nicolas Cage for Bender but he wanted too much money. (What, even back then?) And I think John Cusack was also up for the part of Bender or he may have already had it but had to bow out.

10 year age difference, almost! 
In 1985, only Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall were the closest to their characters' ages: 17. Emilio Estevez and Ally Sheedy were a few years older as they had turned 23 that year but they could still pass for high school students if you didn't scrutinize too much. However, Judd Nelson looked like a thirty year old in the movie (he had turned 26 that year) and I kept expecting the movie to explain that he had been held back a few, three, four times, but no! They never do! So I guess we're suppose to believe this guy is eighteen? Uh-huh, right. I had TEACHERS in high school who looked younger than this guy!

So our five students, who have never met each other (except for Claire and Andrew who are in the same social circle) are stuck in the library for eight hours on a Saturday. Okay, am I the only one who remembers detention as having to stay after school for an hour, maybe two at the most? But even though they're all very different, they find out they have a lot more in common than they think: that they all have issues with their parents. Oh, the teen angst! Alison's parents ignore her! Andrew's father expect him to be the best and win all the games! Claire's parents are too busy for her and are never around and they fight! Bender's father is an abusive drunk! Brian's parents expect him to keep up his grades!

I realize that Bender is suppose to be the star since without him there really would be no movie. Without him, the other four would just be sitting in the library and there would be no scuffles. This is because Bender instigates everything. Are we suppose to think he's cool or hot, because he's neither of those things. He's the biggest ass! He picks on the nerdy kid; he has to put on the tough guy act and pull a knife on Andrew and then put it away and tell him that he's not worth killing because Andrew's parents would sue him, and he sexually harasses Claire by insinuating he thinks they should lock the doors so the guys can rape her and later he finds himself under the table she's sitting at hiding from the principal and is looking up her skirt. He's so gross. Oh, and then he insults her by saying she has a "fat girl's name" and that even though she's not fat now, she will be later in her life. And they end up making out at the end of the movie! What the effing hell? Ugh! But I'll get to that later. I hate that character so much! I guess we're supposed to feel sorry for him because his father hits him?

While you could find some kind of student like those represented in The Breakfast Club at any high school (although I don't know many 30 year olds who attend high school!), the one archetype that I never knew or saw at my high school (or any high school student I've ever known) is the "basket case." There's quirky weird and then there's just WTF weird and Alison is of the latter camp. I've met plenty of quirky weird people and they are delightful in their own amusing way, but they still maintain some sort of social awareness. Alison? She is just freaking weird. For starters, we find out that she didn't do anything to get herself in detention; she just decides she has nothing better to do on a Saturday so she'll spend eight hours of it locked in the school library! (And shouldn't the principal had known she wasn't supposed to be there? Duh!) When she's drawing a picture, she uses her dandruff for snow. When they're eating their lunch, she takes the bologna out of her bread and flings it onto the ceiling where it sticks. Okay, any other NORMAL person would have discarded the bologna in the trash can instead of trashing school property! Just saying! She then puts corn chips (I think that's what it was) between the slices of bread and proceeds to smoosh it with her fist as the others watch in horror/amazement. Speaking of lunch, Claire brought SUSHI to eat. And those lunches weren't refrigerated because when the principal tells them they can eat, they all take out their lunch bags from their back packs. I'm guessing it was noon when they had their lunch and they had arrived for their sentence at 7, so that's FIVE HOURS that sushi was without any refrigeration! That is disgusting! I'm guessing she got food poisoning later that night!

Layering must have been really popular in the '80s, because, my God, these kids (and 30 year old man!) sure do love their layers! Andrew is wearing a varsity jacket over a white turtleneck over a blue jersey. It's no surprise he takes off the layers since he's doing a dance scene similar to that in Footloose. He also should have been an opera singer because he goes into an office and shatters the glass door because he's singing so high (and he is high!) Alison starts out by wearing the biggest parka I have ever she from Canada or something? It must have been really cold in that part of Illinois on March 24, 1984 because damn, not only is she wearing that huge parka, but she's always wearing a huge bulky black sweater and under that she's wearing a turtleneck and apparently under that she's wearing a white girly blouse...but I'll get to that layer. My God, she must have been BOILING in that damn outfit, especially when they were running in the halls and dancing like idiots! And then Bender was wearing a duster, a plaid shirt with the sleeves cut off, and a white long-sleeved t-shirt. I think a vest may have been involved there too, but I couldn't tell you for sure. Oh, and he also wears these leather fingerless gloves which I guess is suppose to mean he's a badass (no, he's just an ass!)

There's a lot of talking, crying, yelling, hurting of feelings, understanding between the five students (or should I say between the four students and one thirty year old man?) They all share their stories of how their parents treat them and why they are in detention. They bond over trying to one-up the principal.

Like I mentioned earlier, Claire and Bender make out at the end of the movie...ugh...Claire totally lost my respect there. I guess she felt sorry for him? And they were making out in front of her parents' car either her mom or dad (you couldn't see who was in the driver's seat). Who the hell makes out with their 30 year old high school boyfriend in front of their parents? Nobody I know, that's for sure! And then, for some stupid reason, Claire gives him one of her diamond earrings (and I'm assuming those are real diamond earrings since she never denied it when Bender makes a comment about them earlier) to him to wear because I guess it's some sort of romantic gesture? Eww. You know he's just going to pawn it off to make some quick cash!

Even though I don't like that pairing, at least it makes more sense than the other, totally random pairing of Andrew and Alison. Claire and Bender share more scenes than Andrew and Alison do (although most of them consist of Bender insulting her and her looking at him in disdain or her crying and yelling at him). It's only when Claire gives Alison a makeover when Andrew sees how pretty Alison is when she has her hair away from her face and is wearing soft makeup instead of the heavy black eyeliner and is now wearing the aforementioned white blouse. :::rolls eyes::: She does look better with her hair pulled back. They also share a kiss at the end of the movie. That pairing just seemed to come out of nowhere.

The question remains, will they be friends come Monday? Probably not, but they will always have that one special Saturday they shared together. Thirty years ago now!

They never eat breakfast in this movie!


  1. Your analysis of this movie is quite funny :P I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it. The Breakfast Club is actually a really good movie. I agree that Judd Nelson did look kind of old. I thought that Allison was very pretty as she was and looked terrible in that white girly dress. Great movie, reminds me of high school. I was always like a really quiet version of Alison who would never throw bologna on the ceiling.

  2. Thanks for reading my review! I do appreciate The Breakfast Club and its impact on pop culture even though I don't love everything about it!