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At a suburban
Chicago high school, five students with nothing in common save the fact
that they've each been slapped with a day-long weekend detention gather
together in the school library on a Saturday morning. There are the
popular kids: Andrew, an easygoing wrestling jock, and Claire, a rich,
prissy redhead. Then there are the freaks: Allison and Bender, the
former a seemingly mute goth outcast, the latter a juvenile delinquent.
And then there's Brian, the scrawny, eager-to-please geek who gets made
fun of by prom queens and weirdos alike. Forced to spend an entire day
together in detention, these five very different students find
themselves interacting with each other for the first time. As they
tease, taunt and deride each other, they slowly come to realize that
they have a lot more in common than any of them ever could have
imagined. Beneath the differences in how they dress and how they act,
they all have problems with their parents, feel pressured by their
peers, and endure angst about their future. Soon, Claire, Bender,
Andrew, Allison and Brian find themselves banding together to wreak
havoc in the life of their bitter, disgruntled principal, who's made it
all too clear to them that he's pissed at having to monitor their
detention, and believes that each and every one of them is a worthless
John Hughes and his Brat Pack team of actor regulars made a lot of teen
movies in the 80s -- and secretly, I have to admit I find something to
love in each and every one of them (even the hokey Some Kind of
Wonderful… I don't care that Hughes made the exact same movie a
couple years earlier with Pretty in Pink). But The Breakfast
Club is the only one of the 80s John Hughes teen flicks that I love
for more than pure nostalgia reasons. For one thing, the characters are
absolutely perfectly cast, from Ringwald as the uptight rich girl, to
Nelson as the rebel with an attitude, to Estevez as the dumb jock,
Sheedy as the freaky chick and Hall as the brain. The characters begin
the movie as stereotypes, sure, but in the end, each reveals depths that
your average teen movie never allows its characters. Although the movie
occasionally indulges in a whimsical, less than credible, tangent --
let's all smoke pot and boogie down in the library now! -- for the most
part, Hughes treats his characters and their problems with respect,
never trivializing these tiny fears about parents, school and friends
that seem so stupid when you look back on them as adults, but so
monumentally important when you're going through them as a
sixteen-year-old. With its memorable characters, realistic (for the most
part) depiction of universal teen problems, and eminently quotable
dialogue, The Breakfast Club isn't just fun because you get to
laugh at Molly Ringwald doing her trademark 80s-style dancing: it's
actually a good movie, a refreshingly intelligent look at what it means
to be a teen in any era.
by Yee-Fan Sun
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