My 80s binge continues and there is nothing more 80s than a John Hughes film. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is, and always will be, my favourite John Hughes masterpiece but you can’t deny the importance and charm of The Breakfast Club. It’s easily one of the most iconic films to come out of that era, which is saying a lot when you’re talking about someone with the career of John Hughes.
The Breakfast Club is about a group of teens sentenced to detention for various reasons. They all come from different backgrounds and fit into a variety of social strata in the high school ecosystem. The only thing they really have in common is the fact that they’re in detention together.
That, and they all have their own baggage to deal with.
The core of this movie is this group of socially diverse teens learning that despite their issues, they share the bond of trying to survive their teenage years intact. They all want to fit in, they all want to be accepted, but for who they are and not who they pretend to be. It’s a theme that runs through a lot of movies written, produced, and/or directed by John Hughes.
Many of his biggest fans watched films like The Breakfast Club in their formative high school years. The characters were peers and contemporaries, and the desire to find community with people is almost universal at that age.
By the end of the movie, these five people who have barely given each other a thought before they entered this room have found camaraderie and support with what some of them considered their social enemies. They realize that their shared issues transcend any social boundaries and that each one of them is a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and criminal. They rise above the brainwashing their principal, as the antagonist to the group, subjects them to and casually categorizes them with. He is the physical representation of a society that has already pigeonholed them into these roles before they even graduate high school and will see them that way for the rest of their lives.
Now is the time to change that and they seize the moment.
Structurally, The Breakfast Club is an interesting film to watch because the bulk of the story is contained in the library they’re serving out their weekend detention in. Where Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is filled with insane, hilarious antics that punctuate the story and frame the characters, The Breakfast Club is focused on this one specific group of kids. It’s all about the growth of these five characters and the performance of the five actors portraying them:
Anthony Michael Hall.
It’s hard to find a cast more 80s than that. And there’s a chemistry between them that’s undeniable. Take out any one of those actors then replace them with someone else, and this movie does not work at all.
But, like any good film, you want to know what happens to them after it ends. Do the bonds they form in that day of detention hold? Or did they fall back into the forms they walked in with? You want to believe they held onto the lessons they learned that day and walked out in world as better people from then on because you want to believe you could to.
Even if they didn’t, for one day the members of The Breakfast Club transcended their high school stereotypes and became a permanent part of the 80s lexicon.