The Essentials- #96
The Breakfast Club
I first exposed to "The Breakfast Club" when I was Kindergarten, but I assure you, its not at all what it sounds like. Ya' see, my mom was always a big music person, and she's one of those fans who listened to her favorites over and over and over again. I definitely picked up the habit from her and I would not have it any other way. One of my earliest memories was driving to and from school and always hearing "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds, the biggest song that came from that soundtrack and that movie. I heard so much that it was hard for me not to like it, hard not to find it iconic and not to have it part of my childhood growing up. It would be a long while before I would ever get to see the movie it was from, but that was okay, I already felt it was part of my life in the weirdest of ways.
One of the reasons why I miss John Hughes so much is how clever he was. Its really not easy to make comedy's and based them on serious situations that still exist today. Not everybody would find bullying and popularity contests to be very humorous, but Hughes always had a knack for taking relevant subjects and finding some faint humor in them. Hughes was the earliest master of the dramatic-comedy. If you re-watch "The Breakfast Club," and "Uncle Buck," and "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" and even "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," while those are fun flicks, there is a melancholy touch to chunks of their story-arcs. Each of these movies wraps a tightrope around being serious and being funny, and Hughes is able pull off both without one genre drowning out the other. That is incredibly hard to do, but Hughes always made it look effortless.
Even today, as I watch "The Breakfast Club," there are several moments that make me laugh. I laugh a lot at the material Anthony Michael Hall provides Brian, the nerdy kid. His quirky innocence could only be brought to life at the time by somebody like Anthony Michael Hall. I always snicker at how blatantly he tries to follow the rules and how offended he gets when someone opposes them. I love that he has a fake I.D. solely for the purpose of voting. And of course, the scene when John Bender (Judd Nelson) tells the principle that his weed is in Brian's underpants, how shocked Brian gets because Bender's weed really is in his underpants. But the principle passes it off as a white lie, love it! But Brian is also a great character to watch because he is so nerdy. I love the way he takes great pride in belonging to the Math and Physics club at his high school and discusses some of the things he does in those clubs, all the while Bender purposely tries to knock him down. I love that Brian is quietly confident throughout the entire movie, never realizing that he does a good job standing up to Bender and all his banter.
At the same time, John Bender is one of my favorite characters too. I really am amazed by the fact that out of all the actors who came out of "Breakfast Club," it was Judd Nelson who was the least successful afterwards. How Nelson didn't have a massive career puzzles me. It may sound like a cliché by today's standards when there is a bully with a hidden heart in movies, but Nelson pretty much made that popular. He put a unique seal on it that lasted for decades after and will go onto lifetimes. John Bender is a bit of a prick throughout the movie, no doubt about it. But he's a misunderstood prick. He has no sense of direction, nobody really guiding him through life. He speaks at great lengths about how terrible his home-life is, which I don't think should mean he can partake in bad behavior, but its easy to see how he got like that. Bender is interesting because all he wants is acceptance, whether he realizes it or not. But boy, he also has some of the best lines in the entire movie.
The movie really boils down to that iconic scene, near the very end, when the stereotypes finally see past their cliques and their worlds and accept each other as people. I remember being highly shocked when Brian reveals the reason why a flair gun was in his locker, and it nearly brought me to tears. I can wholeheartedly relate to being under excruciating amounts of pressure to do good in school, and that pressure was hard every single day. The film makes it easy to identify with the simple pressures all teenagers go through; pressure to fit in, pressure to find friends, pressure to be cool. This is what I mean when Hughes tap-dances with comedy and drama. There are many funny moments in "The Breakfast Club," but when its time for Hughes to bring his story to a head, I am blown away how he kept his teen movie relevant still today.