Last week we had probably the most famous film from the year 1985 with Back to the Future and its sequels. Another classic from that year is this little gem of a movie, The Breakfast Club. I will often try to pick movies which are pretty easily available and this film is currently on Netflix. This means you can read this review and then watch the movie or watch the movie then read this review or you can do neither and go outside… unlike the students in this movie (see that little segue I made there?)
I am a real sucker for contained dramas and single-room storylines. They are often very introspective, allowing such great insight into the characters. What they may lack in epic scale, they make up for in quiet dialogue moments between characters. The Breakfast Club is a great example of the genre because it focuses the spotlight on a group of teenagers. Plus it has a great soundtrack by Simple Minds.
For those who haven’t seen the movie, the basic idea has five teenagers forced to go to detention on a Saturday morning for several hours as punishment for some previously committed crime. The five students form five typical stereotypes of characters in school dramas: a jock, a prom queen, a nerd, a social reject and a vandal. They are told to write an essay about themselves as they spend the day in isolation in the library. For the large part and despite being told not to, all they do is talk. But that talking is absolute gold as a result of the script by John Hughes, responsible for every 80s and 90s family film you ever loved (I’m really not joking about that).
The brilliance of the story is how it subverts exactly what we might expect of this movie. Of course, some typical stuff happens with the vandal being a destructive and the jock being arrogant but the movie really breaks down the stereotypes bit by bit until we see that they are all just teens, struggling through their lives in their own ways. Their problems are actually the same but their solutions are wildly different. It is amazing to see how Hughes has nailed the mindset of a typical teen. The quotation from David Bowie included in the featured picture also plays a significant role with the teens’ plights and thoughts. I won’t say anymore on the plot, but the idea behind what the late singer said is very poignant when used as a looking-glass with this movie.
A film like this is built entirely on the strengths of the performances in the movie and they are phenomenal. The cast of this movie were known as the Brat Pack due to their frequency in films like this and consists of Judd Nelson as the vandal, Molly Ringwald as the prom queen, Emilio Estevez (Charlie Sheen’s Bro) as the jock, Anthony Michael Hall as the nerd and Ally Sheedy as the social reject. They are all fantastic and the great Paul Gleeson (Die Hard) plays a fantastic antagonist as the Vice Principal. The two kids that always stood out to me though were the nerd and the social reject, although I am not sure exactly how that reflects on me!
So, the Breakfast Club, wonderfully written and brilliantly acted and a real classic. I am not going to quite give it the full marks because I was always a little dissatisfied with the abruptness a little near the end. I think it is meant to be a little brief to show you how life does indeed just soldier on but I could have watched this film for another 3 hours and still enjoyed it so much. A great 80s one-room classic. Get watching!