In the wake of a much maligned generation teenage of moviegoers, John Hughes taught us that were not alone in our discontent. Bringing together a cast of characters that included a redheaded beauty queen (Molly Ringwald), a star jock (Emilio Esteves), a gruff chain-smoking rebel (Judd Nelson), a misunderstood dark introvert (Ally Sheedy), and a class nerd (Anthony Michael Hall), with seemingly nothing in common, Hughes painted a cross-section of American youth.
The setting of a weekend detention being the only thing that explains their convergence, they begin on a journey of individual self-discovery with one more things in common: they were all feeling the pressures of society or their parents to be something they were not.
Much like previous masterpieces (think “Rebel Without a Cause”), “The Breakfast Club” attempts to point out the reasons for youthful rebellion, a reasoning that resonated with Gen-X audiences across the U.S. The film became a template for the teen movie genre and teen rom-coms still used to this day. Several homages to the film are found in modern films (“Easy A, “The Duff”, “Detention”), glorifying the turmoil that we went through, in a nostalgic light.
Director, John Hughes, spearheaded the genre, released films like “Sixteen Candles,” “Pretty in Pink,” and “Career Opportunities,” all featuring misunderstood youths thrust into situations where they connected with someone outside their own social class/circles. Many critics believed his film shouldn’t have had the impact they did. Gen-X believed otherwise.
Through Hughes, we learned tolerance, and even embraced differences in others. It’s a lesson that needs revisiting, over and over.