I love The Breakfast Club. I was recently going through my Netflix screens and adding movies in various categories based on suggestions or popularity. The Breakfast Club came up as an option, and I didn’t just add it, I sat down and watched it right then and there.
Very few movies have that pull, but The Breakfast Club is and always will be one that I can watch, enjoy, respect, and love.
I love watching movies, and I have a handful of favorites, and while candidates for my all-time favorite comprise a pretty short list, I had to consider that The Breakfast Club could very well fall into that category.
Let me list a few reasons why The Breakfast Club is one of the best movies ever. Yes, there are spoilers, but for a thirty year old classic, I figure everyone has to have seen it by now. For your consideration:
- Anybody can relate to the characters – Not counting the parents, who make very brief appearances at the beginning and the end. The five kids: The princess, the athlete, the brain, the basket case, and the criminal, plus the two adults: Principal Bender, someone who feels should have earned the respect that he doesn’t seem to have, and Carl the Janitor, who knows his position or title doesn’t command respect, but ends up gaining it anyways. Everybody of any age group can relate to these characters. We either know them, we see them in ourselves, or see them closest to us. I identified with them as a kid when the movie first came out (I was 12), later when I was the age as the teenagers, and I even can now. And, the kicker of it is, that by the time the movie is over, as the ‘essay’ points out, it’s not just one character…it’s probably all of them in some way.
- The issues are still relevant – Let’s think about just some of the issues that are raised during the movie. Sex and virginity. Guns in schools. Bullying. Social cliques. Pressures on student athletes. The movie might have been made 30 years ago, and the decor and styles are from the 1980’s, but take away those elements and the fundamental pieces of the movie still speak very loudly.
- It contains perhaps the best two minute stretch of comedy ever put into a movie – I love comedy movies. I’m a sucker for any movie that makes you laugh. I enjoy comedies even more because I don’t enjoy one type better than another. As long as it makes me laugh, I’m good. In most movies, you’re lucky to have more than one type explored. If you have a movie that tries for a few types, and hits on 2-3, it’s an accomplishment. Yet, there’s a scene (The Ruckus) that is just over two minutes long that pulls in no less than nine comedy troupes, and does it amazingly well. It starts with a setup, moves to a stand-up joke (which I have to imagine is purposefully left unfinished so that our brains can easily move on), goes for the physical gag, then throws out a one-liner, moves to some off camera ranting and raving, a bit of eye rolling sarcasm, a few seconds of slapstick, a touch of raunch, followed by some absurdity, with a bit of a ‘laugh track’ thrown in, and it caps off everything by finishing off the gag that was setup at the very beginning of the scene. Again, all of this in two minutes. It’s an amazing feat, really that’s a testament to great writing, directing, filming and acting.
- It’s honest – At the end of many similar movies, you have characters that ‘change’ as a result of the things that unfold during the movie. This can be heartwarming, but it’s simply not the way things usually work. The Breakfast Club gets this, and they even go as far as to say when they go back to school, things will likely return just like they were. It’s hard to hear, but the truth makes it work because….
- It provides an understanding – When they go back to school and return to who they were, the audience knows why. And why is that? Well, the movie says that it’s basically because they’ve been built into the stereotypes that they are for so long and by so many people (including themselves), that one Saturday in detention is not going to undo that.
- It does give hope that eventually they can break free – Many movies end with things all wrapped up. While The Breakfast Club tells you that these characters won’t break free of who they are by Monday, it does show a crack form in each character that could let them eventually break out of the walls that surround them. Look at Claire, for example. She has a heartbreaking scene where she is honest about the fact that she’s not going to change and not going to be any less conceited on Monday, but she breaks down about it, and you get the sense that maybe she could figure out that there’s a different way. The characters in the movie all use the analogy of wanting to break free from their parents, but underneath that, you see that they’ll really need to break free of who’ve the already are if they want to be happy as adults.
The end result is that this movie is brilliant. Few movies can pull off deep and believable character development, drama, and comedy, and make it relate to people of all ages. And, stand up to the test of time. This was John Hughes’ masterpiece.
Fun fact: In the opening montage of scenes throughout the high school, one shows a locker burned out. Kind of like…a flare gun might have gone off inside? I have watched this movie many times, and just caught this little nugget the last time I watched.
Readers, what do you think of The Breakfast Club?