MOTW: "The Breakfast Club" Review

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

MOTW: "The Breakfast Club" Review

Rating: R (pervasive language, drug use, sexual content/crude content, and some violence)
Length: 97 minutes
Release Date: Feb. 15, 1985
Directed by: John Hughes
Genre: Comedy/Drama

Director John Hughes is known for box-office smashes such as "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Sixteen Candles," but "The Breakfast Club" is arguably one of his best. The film begins as five very different teens, who all belong to different cliques, find themselves gathered on a Saturday morning in the library because they have each been given detention. At first, they don't get along at all, arguing over petty things and mocking each other in a childish game of one-upmanship. The only thing that unites them is their intense dislike of clueless Principal Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason).

As the day wears on, the jock Andrew (Emilio Estevez), nerd Brian (Anthony Michael Hall), troublemaker John (Judd Nelson), popular girl Claire (Molly Ringwald), and resident weirdo Allison (Ally Sheedy) begin to interact in a way that isn't confrontational. They begin to learn about each other's life and realize that everyone has problems, even seemingly pampered and privileged girls like Claire. Though they all come from very different worlds, each is straddled with crippling self-doubt, absentee parents, and a growing case of identity crisis. They slowly come to understand each other in a way that none of them thought possible as secrets are revealed and emotions begin to run high.

By the time Vernon releases them from the library to go home, they have managed to go on an emotional journey that could very well turn their lives upside down. Will the jock Andrew now be best buddies with rabble-rouser John? Will space cadet Allison and princess Claire start get shopping together on weekends? These questions are largely left to the audience to answer, but it sure looks like maybe this disparate group of people will begin to interact and set the high school clique system on its head.

The Brat Pack is the name given to a collective group of 1980s actors who starred in several films together. It is an alternate form of the Rat Pack, a group of singers and songwriters who also acted in films together in the 1950s and '60s. Many of the actors who are largely credited as being a part of the Brat Pack are in "The Breakfast Club," including Ringwald, Sheedy, Estevez, and Nelson. Though all of them had previous acting experience before this movie, none of them had quite achieved a great level of fame except Ringwald, a child actress who had a hit with "Sixteen Candles" the year before. Though Ringwald was the big draw, all of the actors in the film broke out and bettered their careers as a result of "The Breakfast Club." They all did superb work with their characters, with Nelson and Sheedy standing out in particular.

What makes "The Breakfast Club" a hit is not just the script or superb character interactions; the soundtrack no less epic. In the 1980s, many movies, particularly in the teen genre, were just as popular for their soundtracks as they were for their overall quality. Though the film actually does not get overshadowed by the music being used, it certainly gets a boost from it. One of the most iconic moments from the film is the dance scene where all the students let down their guards and dance together in a well-done montage to Karla DeVito's "We Are Not Alone." It's a fantastic scene because the music is an integral part of the group coming together without any of the defensiveness, bitterness, or self-consciousness that marked their initial interactions. Of course, arguably the most famous song to come out of the soundtrack is "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds, which was a huge hit that came to be a teen anthem of sorts.

The film was released in 1985, which means a few things are a bit dated in it. The clothes and hairstyles are certainly no longer in vogue, but the movie doesn't lose its touch at all. It still translates well today, especially because teenagers in high school still tend to hang out in predetermined cliques. Very few movies from the 1980s can still stand up to scrutiny and be relevant today, but "The Breakfast Club" is one of them. It also spawned the Brat Pack and launched the careers of all of the main actors, so it is a pop culture touchstone of sorts. Even those who weren't even born when the film hit theaters can appreciate the film and the message it is trying to send, which is why it still stands today as one of the better and most memorable movies of its age and genre.

Rating: 4 out of 5