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The Breakfast Club (1985)

They only met once, but it changed their lives forever.

Directed by:

John Hughes

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 97 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United States

Take a trip back to a time when it was actually seen as socially acceptable to wear a t-shirt with “Simple Minds – IN CONCERT!” emblazoned across the chest, and you’ll find yourself in 1985: the year of ‘The Breakfast Club’.

John Hughes, the undisputed king of clean-cut teen comedy, wrote and directed this angsty High School drama about a group of five conflicting classroom ne’er-do-wells who all end up spending their entire Saturday together in what seems like a particularly harsh form of detention (Seriously, WEKEND detention? Does that really happen? And I thought lunchtime detention was bad!!).

There’s sports jock Andy (Emilio Estevez), unfortunately-named rebel Bender (Judd Nelson), the annoyingly popular Claire (Molly Ringwald), proto-goth Allison (Ally Sheedy), and flame-haired physics geek Brian (Anthony Michael Hall). Together, they’ve been set the punishment exercise (or “punny eckie” as we used to call them – ah, those were the days!) of writing a 1000-word paper on “who you are”. And, credit where it’s due, the gang of yoofs do end up discovering a whole lot about themselves over the course of the day – but it sure ain’t thanks to any essay.

With its strong dialogue and simple-but-effective subject matter, ‘The Breakfast Club’ is a wonderful viewing experience, though it’s not without its problems. The film’s focal point party of five – universally recognised at the time as Hollywood’s “Brat Pack” – aren’t all perfectly cast, with some serious suspension of disbelief required to accept either the scrawny Estevez as a wrestling team hard man or Nelson as anywhere near to school-age (he was actually 25 when this came out, but looks more like 30). It’s also surprisingly weak on the comedy front, with Hughes using occasional spurts of comic relief more as a conscious effort to hold his target audiences attention than to produce any genuine laughs. In fact, the two best chortles I had when watching it were both unintentional: Estevez’s hilarious bout of what can only be described as “punch dancing”, and another scene where he breaks down in tears whilst describing the frankly ridiculous act of taping a fellow pupil’s bum-cheeks together.

On the whole though, it’s easy to see why – twenty years later – the film is still held in such high esteem by punters and critics alike. Sure, the characters may seem clichéd now, but it’s worth bearing in mind that they weren’t at the time – if anything, this movie was the trail-blazer that set the standard for every teen drama or comedy we’ve seen since.

It's Got: Paul Gleason, as the meaner-than-mean Principal, in one of two roles he’ll always be remembered for – the other one being his slimy Deputy Dwayne in ‘Die Hard’.

It Needs: To let us know whatever happened to the original idea of doing an update movie every ten years – there should have been two of them by now!!

DVD Extras Just a trailer – and it’s a real pity there’s no audio commentary option, as this is one of those rare occasions where it might have actually been quite interesting to listen to. Version Reviewed: Breakfast Club (REGION 1) (NTSC) or from Amazon.com DVD Extras Rating: 1/10

Alternatives:

Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Not Another Teen Movie, Pretty In Pink, Secrets (a.k.a. One Crazy Night), Sixteen Candles, St. Elmo's Fire

Summary

You might not want to join the Breakfast Club – but you have to watch it.

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