We know many of you thought we here at JPFmovies were going to start this review reminiscing about when Generation X saw this film in the theaters and its impact on us, the career of its director and the actors who, because of this, movie eventually became known as the “Brat Pack.” Obviously named after the famed “Rat Pack” of the 1950’s and 1960’s.
A little over 30 years ago the JPFmovies team saw the Breakfast Club (1985) in the theaters and then on VHS tapes. The ground-breaking John Hughes coming of age film deals with many of the issues faced by parents and their children today. Then it occurred to us, we are the parents now, and if our kids were in detention today they wouldn’t be talking to or otherwise interacting with each other. Instead they would be playing on their phones. During our research, we discovered that many believe this type of human interaction causes them some form of social anxiety—what a waste. The Breakfast Club is much more than a classic movie that has withstood the test of time, it also contains a lesson our children need to learn; that talking and listening each other isn’t so bad. Put down the God damn phone and really communicate! You might actually learn something about yourself and the others around you that can’t be articulated in a text or some “Emoji.”
Now let’s take a look at the film. The movie starts with 5 different kids that personify the stereotypes often seen in high school clicks: the popular girl, Claire (Molly Ringwald); the jock, Andrew (Emilio Estevez); the rebel, John (Judd Nelson); the outcast, Allison (Ally Sheedy); and the geek, Brian (Anthony Michael Hall). Throughout the film we learn when each of them has done to land themselves in the all-day detention. Under strict orders from the assistant principal. There not allowed to talk, move from their seats and are required to write a 1,000-word essay on “who you think you are.” The overbearing assistant principal then leaves, returning only occasionally to check in on them. Bender, who has a fantastically antagonistic relationship with the vice principal, ignores the rules and frequently riles up the other students, teasing Brian and Andrew as well as harassing Claire. Allison is initially quiet, except for an occasional random outburst or when she is eating her fingernails. See the film clip below:
Initially tensions run high between both the students and the authority figure embodied by the vice principal, Vernon. The vice principal treats all of the students with blatant disrespect, especially when he and Bender get into a battle of wills over how far he is willing to go to let Vernon know that he is not afraid of these Saturday morning detentions which is the only real hold this vice principal has on our rebel.
The students begin to pass the hours by talking, arguing, Allison drawing and then using her dandruff to simulate snow.
After lunch, they smoke some marijuana that Bender retrieves from his locker. Gradually, they open up to each other and reveal their deepest personal secrets: Allison is a compulsive liar; Andrew cannot easily think for himself; Bender comes from an abusive household.
Brian was planning suicide with a flare gun due to the inability to cope with a bad grade; and Claire is a virgin who feels constant pressure from her friends to be a certain way. They also discover that they all have strained relationships with their parents, which are a key cause for their personal issues as well: Allison’s parents ignore her due to their own problems to the point that she shows up at detention because she had nothing else to do.
Andrew’s father constantly criticizes his efforts at wrestling and pushes him as hard as possible; Bender’s father verbally and physically abuses him; Brian’s overbearing parents put immense pressure on him to earn high grades; and Claire’s parents use her to get back at each other during frequent arguments. The students realize that, despite their different situations, they face similar pressures and complications in their lives.
As the day wears on, despite their differences in social status, the group begins to form friendships (and even romantic relationships). Claire gives Allison a makeover, to reveal just how pretty she really is, which sparks romantic interest in Andrew. Claire decides to break her “pristine” virgin appearance by kissing Bender in the closet and giving him a hickey. However, they know that these relationships will end when their detention is over.
As their time in “jail” nears its end, the group requests that Brian write one essay for all of them. Brian writes the essay and leaves it in the library for Vernon to read. As the kids begin to part ways, Allison and Andrew kiss, as do Claire and Bender. Allison rips Andrew’s state champion patch from his letterman jacket to keep, and Claire gives Bender one of her diamond earrings, and director John Hughes makes a cameo appearance as Brian’s father driving the cat that picks him up. Vernon reads the essay (read by Brian in voice-over), in which Brian states that Vernon has already judged who they are, using simple definitions and stereotypes. One by one, the five students’ voices add, “But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal.” Brian signs the letter as “The Breakfast Club.”
Then the Simple Minds theme song of the movie begins as Bender raises his fist in triumph while he walks across the school football field toward home.
Note Billy Idol did a fantastic cover of Don’t You Forget About Me (When I’m gone). You can listen to it here:
Princess or prisoner, nerd or nut-job, these five different teens bond over their conviction that they can’t talk to their parents, which leaves them adrift at a time when they could use help the most. Has anything changed? If there is one thing we here at JPFmovies can say to the next generation it’s go watch the Breakfast Club, but don’t get into too much trouble because detention isn’t really like the film, but we can dream.