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Film Review: The Breakfast Club (1985)

‘I wish my life was like an 80’s movie.’ Cliché, but never a truer word said. The don of 80’s coming of age films, John Hughes, implemented the classic brat pack bunch, which proved a winning formula and has stood the test of time. With numerous notches to his belt, including the classic teen comedy Ferris Bueller and cult rom com Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club still holds the title as cream of the crop.

The plot of the film centres around a group of teenagers, forced to attend detention on a Saturday morning. To begin with, each student’s crime is unknown and each student seems at odds with the other. But as their day of punishment unfolds, camaraderie is founded with one another through their disdain of the ignorant Principal. But beware, this is not simply an ‘us against the man’ teen flick but rather a cautionary tale. Hughes challenges the stereotypical perceptions of high-schoolers, by slowing revealing each characters secret and showing to us the audience almost as a ‘ So there!’ tale, not to judge a book by it’s cover.

‘You see us as you want to see us – in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal.’

Over the course of the next eight hours, each teen, whilst confided within the walls of the school library, chips away at the other, putting holes in each other’s defences. The majority of teen movies are forgettable. Hughes however, succeeds where many have failed as he makes The Breakfast Club relevant to anyone who was a teen. The characters remain the same, the feelings and fears don’t change. It is the honesty of Hughes’ characters that make it a winner. Take that of ‘the man’ in this instance, portrayed by Principal Vernon (Paul Gleason):

‘You think he’s funny? You think this is cute? You think he’s ‘bitchin,’ is that it? Let me tell you something. Look at him – he’s a bum. You want to see something funny? You go visit John Bender in five years. You’ll see how goddamned funny he is.’

Its modern relevance to one side, The Breakfast Club is adorned with ‘only in the 80’s’ moments. Estevez’s dance moves are a sight not to be missed. Hughes showcases the awkwardness, angst and suffering of being a young adult, shot through with humour, friendship and romance. The fashion, alongside the music will change (sadly) but the premise holds true;

‘We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that's all.’

The Breakfast Club is funny, poignant and relevant. (With the added bonus of having an excellent soundtrack) It is the staples 80’s teen movie and there aint nothing wrong with that!

Written by Rachel Spillane.


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