I grew up a lot during my high school years of 1982-1984. I hated those years and really have no desire ever to revisit it. I saw a lot of the stupid early teen 80's films and I always saw a lot of sex and drugs. (Neither of which, as a teenager, I was doing.) I was so glad to graduate in 1984 and to finally leave high school behind me and to start college.
So welcome to my #10 all time favorite film, The Breakfast Club
I had never really seen a teen film that ever talked to me during my high school years. I wasn't a sex craved student nor was I a drug induced student. I didn't live anywhere cool, like California or New York. It was like, teenagers were doing something together and I wasn't really doing anything like I have seen in the movies.
When this film came out in February 1985, I had just left my high school 9 months earlier so all of the teen drama was still very fresh in my mind. I really had no desire to see this film. I had seen a preview and I decided to see the film at the very last second. I was so glad that I did.
The film opens up with parts of David Bowie's, "Changes" lyrics on the movie screen. What I saw on the screen were these words.
"And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They're quite aware of what they're going through."
All I really remember about that moment is that, I did not feel insulted by this so called teen movie. I also recall that for the first time maybe a film is actually talking to me instead of insulting me.
We are then introduced to the 5 people that made this film. Andrew Clark: (Emilio Estévez) Andrew is the film's athlete. Claire Standish: (Molly Ringwald) The princess of the group. John Bender: (Judd Nelson) The criminal of the group. Allison Reynolds: (Ally Sheedy) The basket case of the group and Brian Johnson: (Anthony Michael Hall) The group's brain.
I then remembered that they all were in detention on a Saturday for 8 hours and that they all had to write an essay on why they were in detention. To this day, I hate that part. To me, its wasted work and I see how much of that wasted work I did in high school.
I still really had no idea what I was watching but I was naming the names of the people that were in my high school to the people that I was watching on the screen and when it came for me, I picked Brian. I sure saw a lot of me in this person. (The geek, the high school virgin, the kid who never felt like he fit in with anyone)
I then remember that the film was setting up these students to be real and not like the cartoon-like kids I had seen for years earlier. They were talking about the same B.S. that I was going through and, what few friends I had, we were all talking about the exact same things.
Where this film really took off for me was the scene that the students smoked some of Bender's marijuana. I remember thinking, "Ok, I will never do this". But as they were smoking it, the high school drama stopped and the students started to be real by talking about what was actually going on around them and how they were trying to deal with it.
The above scene is when this good film turned into a great one for me. I saw these 5 different students actually sit down and just talk without any of the High School cliques that I hated in my high school. I saw all of them trying to be honest to each other and watch just how much they discover that they all have strained or outright hated relationships with their parents and are afraid of making the same mistakes as the adults around them. However, despite these students becoming friends, the students are afraid that once the detention is over, they will return to their very different cliques and never speak to each other again.
The exchange between Claire and Brian here with Brian basically calling her a bitch and Claire somewhat agreeing with it was a classic movie moment. When Brian then breaks down and tells everybody because he got an "F" grade that he wanted to kill himself, but the flare gun went off in his locker.
The students, then all agree, that Brian should actually write the detention letter and this is what he writes,
The beginning letter is as follows:
Brian Johnson: Saturday, March 24, 1984. Shermer High School, Shermer, Illinois. 60062.
Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was that we did wrong. What we did was wrong. But we think you're crazy to make us write this essay telling you who we think we are. What do you care? You see us as you want to see us... in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Correct? That's the way we saw each other at seven o'clock this morning. We were brainwashed.
Does that answer your question?... Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.
While Brian is writing the letter, Claire/Bender and Allison/Andrew are starting to become a couple and everyone is asking what will happen on Monday when they must return to their drama of high school.
The film ends with Brian’s’ letter being read by the principal and the students going back home after detention is over.
So why do I rate this film as one of my all time favorites?
For a kid growing up I saw all of these same problems and, like me, they really did not have any answers either. The film took a very honest look at high school and said that, for a moment, what if there were no cliques and that we could actually be ourselves without worrying what everyone else thought about it. The film did not insult me with mind numbing sex and drugs like so many other films had during this time.
Next year is my 25th high school reunion and I am slowly starting to reconnect with people from that era via "Facebook". I went to my 10th and 20th but I have no real desire to see the 25th or anymore reunions. High school was horrible and I have no real desire to revisit it in person. This movie reminds me why I hated it so much. All of the drama lies and never really belong to anyone or anything, like this film highlights. It’s something that the adult in me wants to put away and never go back too.
I have this film on a HD-DVD and the new 2008 re-release. John Hughes'(The director of this film) first draft was originally scripted out to be a 2-1/2 hour movie. However, many of the scenes were cut out and the negatives destroyed. John Hughes has stated that he has the only complete copy of The Breakfast Club on film. I would love it if they were to release a blu-ray version of this movie with the 2.5 hour cut of the film.
If you liked or hated your high school and have never seen "A Breakfast Club" Then please see this film and see if you are anyone in this film and does this film talk to you as it did the 18 version of me as it still does 20+ years later.