The Breakfast Club (1985) (R)

If anyone but John Hughes had made "The Breakfast Club", I don't think it would have worked. You have six actors and essentially one room where everything takes place. In the hands of a director who treated the material any differently—whether with more severity or humor—the entire atmosphere of the film that registers with so many people, wouldn't have been there. John Hughes' talent is best exemplified with this movie because he gives us what is essentially the film version of The Catcher in the Rye.
"The Breakfast Club" takes place on one Saturday where five teenagers are being held in detention. They are under the thumb of the annoyingly power-hungry and self-important Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason) who warns them not to screw around...or else!
The teenagers fill out your extremes. You have the math genius, Brian (Anthony Michael Hall); the pretty pampered princess, Claire (Molly Ringwald); the wrestling jock, Andrew (Emilio Estevez); the quiet goth girl, Allison (Ally Sheedy); and then the tough-around-the-edges trouble maker, John Bender (Judd Nelson). Bender is the one who likes to stir the pot, i.e., piss off Vernon. He's been in detention countless times and his smart mouth quickly earns him two more months of his Saturdays being eaten up with Vernon.
But for a movie that moves quickly and spends its entire time devoted simply to its adolescent cast, "The Breakfast Club" is remarkably plotless. It's all about its characters and the dynamics that evolve thereof. We see Bender as the tough boy who has a reason for all his angst and isn't really as all that nonchalant about his circumstances. We watch the growth and honesty that comes from Claire as she starts connecting with the other members. We watch the kids share with one another secrets, confessions, desires, and everything in between. "The Breakfast Club" is both funny and heartbreaking. It makes us remember our teenage years and pine for them.
God, puberty is so horrible...even worse when the constant pressure sits on you that will supposedly shape the rest of your life. John Hughes realizes this, which is why "The Breakfast Club" is such an interesting and still relevant piece.
Mostly taking place in the library and for most of the first section in complete silence, "The Breakfast Club" tackles rebellion, parent pressure, teen suicide, abuse, sex, and a fair amount of everything else. It's only on reflecting on the film that it dawns on you how much it manages to pack into its short running time.
"The Breakfast Club" does have some issues, mostly with its pseudo-rock-and-roll soundtrack that baffles me. In its simplest explanation, it's forceful; but I don't think that it needed to be.
Filled with good performances, the most notable one being Ally Sheedy as the almost psychotic silent type, "The Breakfast Club" is a joy from start to finish...and yes, it does deserve all the hype surrounding it.

Score: ★★★½

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