Go out into the street and start asking people what their favourite movie is. Chances are you’ll get a lot of obvious answers: The Godfather, The Shawshank Redemption, Citizen Kane, Rocky etc. There films are practically the go to material when asked that question, but I can honestly say you wouldn’t hear any of those come out my mouth if you asked me. While they’re all great films, there has never been a film that has entertained me more than The Breakfast Club.
Released in 1985 and written/directed by the late, great John Hughes, The Breakfast Club tells the tale of 5 high school stereotypes (an athlete, a princess, a brain, a freak, and a criminal) who are all kept in for a Saturday detention and asked to write an essay on who they think they are. They only met once, but it changed their lives forever as these students soon realised they’re not as a different as they once thought.
But the film doesn’t go out of its way to be cheesy; at its heart, it’s a comedy, and a good one at that. Hughes’ script is quite amazing; the dialogue is either really funny or shockingly powerful. It’s helped even more by the wonderful performances, especially Judd Nelson, who was quite frankly excellent in his role. He plays John Bender, a school bully and outcast with rough home life who is widely believed to fail in life. He is hated by the group, and even more so by their principal running the detention, Mr. Vernon (Paul Gleason). Their exchanges at the beginning are hilarious (“Yeah, I have a question... Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?”) and the chemistry between the actors is great, one that is never beaten or paralleled in the film. Saying that, Judd Nelson’s chemistry in the film is great, with his snide remarks towards Molly Ringwald and his little fights with Emilio Estevez, topped with his subtle insults towards Anthony Michael Hall. He’s an absolute ass to everyone, yet somehow remains the best character in the movie.
Now, one thing that is rather impressive is Hughes’ ability to keep the entire film set inside one place. The actual detention is held in the school library, but certain scenes take them to other parts of the school, most notably the scene where they run through the halls, trying to get back to the library before Vernon notices. Writing your characters in a confined space can be difficult; of course, it’s not impossible, what with brilliant films such as 12 Angry Men, Rear Window and Phone Booth all being set in one location and still managing to be tense. I won’t lie, I felt tense at a few scenes in the film. Matter of fact, it’s them being in one location that creates it.
The Breakfast Club is NOT a perfect movie; there’s no such thing. But I can say right now that it is a film that I haven’t a single complaint about. That’s why it’s my favourite film of all time. A combination of excellent writing and acting, sprinkled with 80s cheese and topped off with undeniable enjoyment, The Breakfast Club is more than just your average teen film. It’s one that can open your eyes and just leave you feeling good all day long. As I said, the film is not for everyone, but I seriously hope you enjoy it as much I did!