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Overall Rating
4.52

Awesome73.77%
Worth A Look: 14.21%
Average: 4.37%
Pretty Bad: 6.01%
Total Crap: 1.64%

6 reviews, 147 user ratings


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Breakfast Club, The
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by Slyder

"Not only defined a generation, but an entire demographic"
5 stars

You must understand sparky, back in 1984, teen movies up to that point where divided in two camps: comedy and slasher movies. The former followed the precedents of classics like American Graffiti, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and even Porky’s while the latter was content of creating lame-ass rip-offs of Halloween and Friday the 13th. Then there was WarGames, which was about a computer geek averting World War III and scoring the girl of his dreams, but back then that was more the exception rather than the rule. It was during this period of time when National Lampoon screenwriter John Hughes realized the huge amount of potential within the barely existent teen movie genre, and that he had the capabilities of writing and even directing teen comedies or dramas within that genre of superior quality. It was with this mentality and determination that he wrote his directorial debut, the excellent Sixteen Candles, which became a hit and made stars out of Brat Packers Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall. But the real revolution came with his sophomore effort; The Breakfast Club stands largely peerless in the genre, a masterful blend of comedy and soul-searching drama which dealt (unheard of at the time) with real issues that the average teenage high school student went through. It certainly resonated with millions of teenage audiences worldwide, and still does so to this very day, hence justifying its cult status.

The film is set on Shermer High School in Chicago, Illinois on a Saturday. 5 teenage students (3 boys, 2 girls) have to spend the whole day in detention from 7am to 4pm, and write an essay requested by the school principal Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason) describing who they think they are. On the surface, they have nothing in common, and to us in the outside world, we simply know them as the jock, the criminal, the brain, the princess and the basket case. It’s from this point on where the film blossoms, as each character opens up little by little, sometimes bluntly, sometimes painfully, but soon, amid the rampant disparity of social classes, a common bond is created within all five, and by day’s end, none of them will ever be the same from then onwards and all of them will be forever united by that bond they shared that fateful day.

Hughes constructed a 5 character ensemble based on general stereotypes found in your typical local high school and gives each one a three-dimensional personality one building block at a time. The most predominant character is undoubtedly the criminal, John Bender (Judd Nelson), whom shows complete contempt for Mr. Vernon and is bound and determined to start shit, poke fun and be a complete asshole to his classmates. Yet despite his apparently abhorrent traits, he actually is the most down-to-earth character of the lot, and the funniest one for that matter. Hughes’s dialogue, along with Nelson’s improvisations, are at their most brilliant here, for they manage to be interesting and revealing without being pandering or obvious. Which is why Bender’s exchanges between the jock Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez), the princess Claire Standish (Ringwald) and brain Brian Johnson (Hall) are blunt yet heartfelt, funny yet insightful, and rude yet truthful.

Bender’s pissant attitude serves as the catalyst for the rest of the kids to come out of their shells and reveal their most intimate secrets, but more importantly, what makes them tick. At first, the social barriers and stereotypes become a frequent point of conflict, and this is where the film provides the biggest laughs, since these stereotypes are constantly and mercilessly poked fun at and ridiculed at each other’s expense, be it directly or indirectly. It’s in these scenes where John Hughes reveals himself as a master of timing and dynamics, for he always offsets any moment of tension with the most odd or outrageous comment or action, thereby disarming the situation and making it funny (Allison’s actions when Bender confronts Andrew, Vernon bursting in when “the noise” happens, Bender’s reasons why he wants to be like Andrew). But once these stereotypes are bludgeoned down, suddenly a common theme is shared between all 5 characters and effectively debunks every single stereotype we had about them. While they may feel different towards each other and despise Bender’s attitude, ALL feel unanimous hatred towards the school’s present figure of authority, Mr. Vernon. Suddenly, it is revealed to us that none of these kids are necessarily thrilled in being what they are, even if their stature means that on the surface they’re squeaky clean in the most politically correct of ways. Claire, despite her upper class status, feels remorse towards her parents’ apparent aloofness and manipulations, and doesn’t consider herself a totally pristine person despite her looks. Andrew is a varsity wrestler, but not by choice, but rather because of his increasingly demanding father. Even Brian, whom is the most intelligent (geek) person of the lot, hates the pressures that come with studying hard and keeping his GPA above 4.0. The most mysterious and more interesting character for my money (Ok, my favorite I should say) is that of the basket case, Allison Reynolds (a note-perfect Ally Sheedy). She’s the most distant and reserved of the lot, and thanks to the infamous lunch scene, certainly the weirdest. She does not speak a single word of dialogue for a whole 30 minutes, save for a memorable one-word challenge against Claire. It is however during the time of interaction between the rest of the characters, when they start sharing a common bond between them, when she finally feels comfortable enough to speak out. She’s a thief, yet she doesn’t consider herself one (in fact, whenever she takes something, it is actually something of a specific value which points towards a character’s main trait). She admits being a compulsive liar, which explains why she’s so good in spotting whenever one character lies or is hiding something (like Joe Gideon would say: Don’t bullshit a bullshitter), and her distant and odd attitude automatically makes her an outcast, but this behavior is no façade and rather has some really dark roots coming from her home life.

So, all five are dysfunctional, in one way or another, but not without reason, and like Claire would later say, “We all have issues, it’s just that some people are better at hiding them”. But once each character lays out their cards, with a great deal of emotional pain and hurting it must be said, it’s clear that there is a common denominator. They all hate what they are or what they become thanks to their parents and their attitude towards them at home. They’re sick and tired of the pressures of making the grades, of being someone their parents want them to be and not necessarily what they want to be. So in retaliation, they rebel, they want to be bad at least once in their lifetime, they want to break out, they want to destroy the very thing they believe is holding them back, and hit out against whomever represents that very same thing that makes their life miserable, be it a teacher or a fellow student. And the only way they can survive and succeed in this life is to hold on to each other without prejudice and live their lives the way they want to with no regrets. True, there will be a good bunch out there who will not relate to any of these characters or go as far as say that they had a perfect upbringing. But just because you can’t relate doesn’t necessarily mean that such types of dysfunctional people don’t exist; they do, and are all over the place, they just hide it so that they can get by better. And you’d be a liar if you said you had a perfect upbringing, because such thing doesn’t exist.

This is the driving engine of The Breakfast Club, and it is something that John Hughes understood rather well. He understood the pressures and hardships of the high school student, and he knew that the problems they faced could be dealt and solved, and that for all their hardships, their age and the fact that they were at that difficult crossroads that divides the child and the adult, that redemption and recovery could be possible. It is because of this that the film has continually struck an emotional chord with dysfunctional teens over several generations and with audiences that shared those same kind of experiences during their adolescent years. I remember vividly watching this film for the first time 12 years ago on cable, and believe it or not I didn’t like the film much, not that it was bad (it was compulsively watchable actually), but because something just nagged me about the characters and who they were. I didn’t understand it back then, but several years later upon watching it again, I came to the realization that the main reason why I didn’t like that film much was because it actually hit very close to home. I vividly remember encountering these types of people in the hallways, in the classrooms, and their home life in many aspects resembled mine. I related a lot to these characters, especially to Allison Reynolds, because I used to be a misunderstood weirdo myself when growing up. The pressures are universal, they may not be as big, but they exist. And the despise towards authority figures is real. I’ve met the type of person Mr. Vernon is many times in my young life and not necessarily in high school. And like John Bender finds out, Mr. Vernon eerily resembles the type of abusive parent figure we sometimes have had in our livelihood; the type of person whom thinks, in Vernon’s own words “everything’s polluted, the kids are polluted” and whom feels that these kids behave like they do just to bust their balls. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s kind of a shame that the grand majority of the cast kind of went nowhere after this film, because everybody here simply kicked ass in their roles. Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy all give out career best performances. This movie was so well-casted that each actor fitted into their character so perfectly. The late Paul Gleason is great as Mr. Vernon and is easily the most memorable role of his career. In the hands of a lesser actor, Vernon would’ve come off as cartoonish and laughably obnoxious, but Gleason approaches his role with such menacing and frightening intensity that you just can’t help but feel dread towards him, and his standoff between him and Bender is simply powerful stuff. Also, let’s not forget John Kapelos as the janitor Carl, whom also reveals why being a Janitor is not the shitty job that is made out to be, and in fact, is the coolest “sinister” job on the planet. Yet another stereotype debunked right there. Cool stuff.

In the end, this film is required viewing, not only for teenagers, but for all audiences whom remember the hardships of being a teenager during the years before college. The Breakfast Club is unquestionably the definitive Teen Angst Flick, and its influence can be seen to this day in the several teen comedies or dramas that have been constantly ripping off every single cliché that was redefined by this film almost 26 years ago. Very few films have been able to stand the test of time like it, and if the fashion and the music sound dated nowadays (save for that Simple Minds song which totally kicks ass), the integral observations and musings that this film provides still remain vibrant to this day. John Hughes is sadly no longer with us, but we will always remember him not for the shit he later did in the 90s, but for his efforts in bringing a sense of joy, laughter and understanding amongst all of us during that difficult period where we stopped being kids and became adults all of a sudden. Rest in Peace Mr. Hughes, you will be missed. 5-5

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1061&reviewer=235
originally posted: 11/09/11 17:18:56
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User Comments

2/21/17 morris campbell a perceptive teen movie real and entertaing 4 stars
7/21/12 Sean Harrison The rare teen film that was any good. 4 stars
6/09/12 keith miron Enjoyable 4 stars
10/15/11 mr.mike it was OK , gets dull towards the end. 3 stars
1/22/11 Jeff Wilder Not as edgy as Fast Times. But more emotionally direct than most teen pap. 4 stars
9/23/10 Stephanie This is an AWESOME movie that everyone should see! 5 stars
2/09/10 PAUL SHORTT PREDICTABLE AND POMPOUS 2 stars
1/28/10 Dane Youssef Hughes is God. About that one day in detention. Sometimes all you need is one day... 5 stars
1/22/09 Anonymous. a teen classic. :] 4 stars
10/01/08 Danny Emilio Estevez before Mighty Ducks...a classic. 4 stars
9/29/08 Feliciano Frontado THE Teen Movie, A Must See!!! 5 stars
9/16/08 Carla A. Teen angst done right. It's not perfect, but it's still a classic. 4 stars
9/12/08 DW Smith An American Classic 5 stars
3/09/08 Vincent Frankly, it kinda sucked 2 stars
12/03/07 SamanthaP this movieis incredibly poignant, and still represents todays teens 5 stars
5/02/07 fattyjoe37 My favorite movie of all time 5 stars
1/24/07 johnnyfog Principal's evil for no reason, but c'mon! It's Molly and Ally 4 stars
11/20/06 TreeTiger I highly recommend ... NOT watching this overrated dung pile of sophomore bull-crap... 1 stars
11/03/06 Bitchflaps Stereotypical characters and sophomoric script. 2 stars
7/13/06 David Cohen "Teen angst, the move" thought it was great when I was a kid though 3 stars
7/06/06 T. Maj Whiny bratfest 2 stars
5/27/06 Sheena ult. teen movie!!! 5 stars
5/05/06 dionwr Gee, and I thought cracking skulls was "Not Another Teen Movie" 3 stars
5/05/06 Uri Lessing I cried, I laughed. 3 stars
5/02/06 Ryan_A I (heart) Sheedy 5 stars
5/02/06 PaulBryant It's probably the movie I dread most on a Sunday afternoon. 1 stars
5/02/06 David Cornelius Can you describe the ruckus? 5 stars
5/02/06 William Goss A total rip-off of Not Another Teen Movie. 4 stars
5/02/06 Alex Paquin Interesting, but typical of the eighties, I guess 4 stars
5/02/06 EricDSnider Don't you forget about me. Please? 4 stars
5/02/06 HBS-SH Spaghetti & Dogballs 4 stars
4/19/06 Simon Incredibly introspective, moving & funny, eerily relatable. one of the simplest and best. 5 stars
3/12/06 JM Synth Very irritating and condescending 2 stars
10/27/05 Elise Chatterton I wicked movie, and hilarious 5 stars
10/25/05 Jerome E realistic, stereotypically similar to school in australia in the present 4 stars
9/08/05 bac my all-time favorite movie! 5 stars
2/17/05 Daveman Cliched, more than a little pompous, Estevez's acting is squirm-inducing. 2 stars
2/17/05 C Vega good movie but is really showing its age now 4 stars
1/17/05 Jeff Anderson I like John Hughes, but this film is too simplistic, boring, and predictable even for me. 2 stars
12/10/04 Kristina Williams stupid cliches, stupid kids, stupid movie 1 stars
12/02/04 Katina Vangopoulos It is one of my all-time faves, and I'm so upset it can't b bought on DVD in Oz. 5 stars
11/07/04 Tyler Reece The Breakfast Club is the best "quotable" movie of all time, best movie of the 80's 5 stars
9/21/04 stuart bates one of my old 80's favorites.. 5 stars
9/14/04 Daryn Adams The best movie ever! 5 stars
4/17/04 Allie BEST MOVIE EVA!!!! 5 stars
4/02/04 sansho Childsplay 2 stars
3/29/04 JimmyC Sweet movie.. great music... 5 stars
3/27/04 AB try it you'll like it 5 stars
3/06/04 Angolmois Has a potential to be great but it cops out on some harder issues like suicide. 4 stars
2/18/04 Aveon Aaron Young Very very good 5 stars
2/08/04 ladeela my FAVORITE movie 5 stars
1/04/04 LIAM JACKSON the best teen film ever. anyone who doesn't like it is a mincing fucking cunt.great movie 5 stars
1/03/04 A F You see tha chicks can't handle da smoke. Dats what it is. 5 stars
12/30/03 TLsmooth Hughes' writing was shite way before 'Maid in Manhattan' and this is proof. 2 stars
12/28/03 Jeffrey Hall-Cottrell This is the best so-called teen movie made of the 80's. My 16 year old Nephew is now hooked 5 stars
12/18/03 Made In America 122 loved it loved it loved it loved it loved it loved it loved it loved it loved it loved it 5 stars
12/15/03 Kung Jerker Simply loved it. 5 stars
11/29/03 john the best teen movie ever made -lots of heart and plenty cool 5 stars
9/17/03 Alan A must see for anyone who has ever attended high school. 5 stars
7/17/03 Emily The Best movie ever (besides outside providence.) 5 stars
7/13/03 Kyle A true classic... if you can't enjoy this, there's something wrong with you. 5 stars
6/04/03 MEEEW amazing. 5 stars
5/25/03 Zaharin Hamid aka The Movie Samseng Answer the question Claire! I love this movie. John Hughes and Judd Nelson are veterans! 4 stars
1/29/03 TLsmooth Hughes' writing was shite way before 'Maid in Manhattan' and this is proof. 2 stars
1/01/03 Ally I LOVE this film! One of my all-time favourites! See it! You will not be disappointed! 5 stars
11/24/02 Crystal It really is a great movie. 4 stars
11/22/02 Arnold We will be together forever 5 stars
11/22/02 Maso good 5 stars
11/05/02 Charles Tatum The '80's were better filmwise than given credit for 5 stars
7/21/02 KMG This is what we get in the Bender household for spilling paint in the garage! 5 stars
5/23/02 Butterbean Great dialogue, but the movie seems to just sit there for time to time. 3 stars
4/11/02 Kara Great flick! 4 stars
4/09/02 twork ROFL! One of the movies, which is so bad, that it is funny, very funny! No.1 in my prejudic 5 stars
4/07/02 Omega One of the best movies of all time, a sure classic! And Jud Nelson is hot! 5 stars
4/07/02 Jake Everyone in detention is a complete opposite! haha..lucky them. Great acting and cast! 4 stars
4/06/02 Justin Adorable and funny movie! 5 stars
4/04/02 DMF Very enjoyable, but ultimately little more than that. 4 stars
3/17/02 Jessie C. I used to want to be a female version of John Bender. He's that cool. 5 stars
3/03/02 Miia The best movie I've ever seen... I love it!!! it got everything!!!! See it! 5 stars
2/26/02 rebecca my fave john hughes flick, love your review danielle 5 stars
2/22/02 ashley frazier i was concieved while my parents were watching this movie 5 stars
2/20/02 Xaver I used to wear Zodiac boots and asymmetrically gelled hair. Need I say more? 5 stars
1/17/02 David A. Effort to label the different social groups in an average high school. Phony. 2 stars
1/11/02 Iain Anglin Demented and Sad, But Social. The Best Teen Movie of All-Time and One of my favorites 5 stars
1/06/02 Tone Rosenkrants My Good..... What a movie 5 stars
1/02/02 Tiffany Hartman This is my FAVORITE movie. Its great. A must see for anyone who knows a good movie. 5 stars
12/30/01 Monster W. Kung It's good, but let's not go overboard. There's better stuff out there. 4 stars
12/22/01 Anna This movie has totally blown away all other eighties movies! "Does Barry Manilow ......!?" 5 stars
12/10/01 Sarah It's about breaking the molds of teenage society. Reminds me of the Outsiders. 5 stars
12/09/01 R.W. Welch Sharply drawn teen pic about not much. 4 stars
12/05/01 Skip Young The kids are great, but the adults are like cartoon characters. Very annoying. 4 stars
12/02/01 Flip Kromer The best teen movie 5 stars
11/30/01 Jeff Wilson Has its moments, but the real issues are just feel good crap that doesn't apply to life. 3 stars
11/06/01 Sara The absolute best movie ever. I <3 John Bender 5 stars
11/04/01 Mike the Nobody That was lovely what you wrote, Ophelia. Made me appreciate this movie even more 5 stars
8/07/01 E-Funk "That's impossible...it's in Johnson's shorts." The voice of a decade...fucking great movie 5 stars
7/29/01 Elaine B. Best movie of the eighties and my fave all time 5 stars
7/16/01 Kate Hagen The Most realistic and incredible teen movie ever made. The essential 80's movie 5 stars
7/05/01 Iain Anglin The Breakfast Club is the best teen movie ever made. Hands Down 5 stars
6/14/01 Gary Cardboard characters and false emotion, but strangely enjoyable. Sheedy is best. 3 stars
6/10/01 mjm103171 Some awesome stuff that brings me back everytime 5 stars
5/30/01 bethany england this movie is so much more then what people give it credit for 5 stars
5/08/01 LaToya Mays Greatest movie I have ever seen 5 stars
4/09/01 Gary This is my favorite 80's film ever. My favorite actor AMH shines! 5 stars
4/06/01 paluch ...eat my shorts...what was that.... 5 stars
3/27/01 Mark Bedwell One of the best teen movies every 5 stars
3/24/01 Chloe absolutely fabulous, judd played bender really well!!!!! 5 stars
2/18/01 Tom Beatty Another Excellent Flick 5 stars
2/04/01 Del R Quntissential 80's stuff. The best Hughes movie ever. 5 stars
1/28/01 Soggy Bottom Boy A solid entertaining movie, worth a rent if you haven't seen it. 4 stars
11/07/00 Leah Smith It was a good film, except it lost my attention at some points. 3 stars
11/01/00 Bigfoot This is one of my favorite movies of all time not at the top of my list but quite up there 4 stars
9/27/00 Erin This is such a great movie if you don't like it there is seriously something wrong with you 5 stars
9/22/00 dave handley One of the great movies of the 80's 5 stars
8/24/00 Jade it was wicked!! 5 stars
8/13/00 Bender There will never, ever be a better teen movir 5 stars
5/19/00 Elvisfan 'who's afraid of virginia woolf' w/pimples; and that's a compliment, not complaint 5 stars
4/17/00 Rita It fucking rocks! Why don't they make movies like this anymore? 5 stars
3/30/00 louise the best movie ever made,you cant watch it enough 5 stars
2/25/00 BETSY I THINK THIS IS A MUST SEE FOR ALL TEENS 5 stars
2/16/00 Kyle Broflovski Kevin Williamson/Aaron Spelling/WBTV, are you paying attention??? 5 stars
2/12/00 steve layne The best teen movie ever made 5 stars
11/09/99 Chris Maddox The film of the eighties 5 stars
11/06/99 Monique Luzuriaga this movie is a timeless classic. a must see for everyone. 5 stars
10/25/99 Danny Dean Nelson is brilliant, Estevez is shite, but that doesn't matter. A modern masterpiece ! 5 stars
10/24/99 Rachael Keane First off: Anthony Michael Hall co-starred with Noah Wyle in "Pirates Of Silicon Valley" 5 stars
9/30/99 Ryan Tuccinardi One of the best movies ever, a true classic of film! 5 stars
9/28/99 Ann This movie epitomizes what all teenagers have to go through 5 stars
9/23/99 Matt An all time classic!!! 5 stars
8/12/99 REVIEWER OF 80'S CLASSICS AWESOME 5 stars
7/27/99 80's Teen Should be required viewing for every generation of teens. 5 stars
7/25/99 The Bomb 69 Randy Grubbs is a complete and total fucking moron 5 stars
7/21/99 Tristynn another terrific 80's flick.. and ppl ask my why I am sad this era is over??? 5 stars
6/08/99 Fred Flitsyone this mooov waz thi besst ie hav eva sein im mi lif i wood lik too sleep with mister ering m 5 stars
4/18/99 jimmy jam Don't you forget...to rent this classic 5 stars
4/06/99 Michael Grimm in my top 10 of all time baby 5 stars
3/18/99 Madcap definitely in my top ten faves, I'm an 80's child and I was half Hall half Nelson, sick huh 5 stars
2/15/99 Stephen Reinken Just an awesome all around movie. 5 stars
1/13/99 lawrence I know this thing by heart.It's the Perfect 80s film 5 stars
12/13/98 Binky No downside of this film. None. 5 stars
12/09/98 Pat Flanagan Oh my God is this a good movie! Love it more every time I see it!! 5 stars
10/19/98 Kwyjibo The quintessential 80's teen angst movie. Fucking great. 5 stars
10/14/98 meg love it!! 5 stars
10/10/98 Bluntman The little moments are what makes this movie age well. 4 stars
10/07/98 Maegs I was in love with Judd and wanted to be Molly. Or as pretty as Ally. 5 stars
10/05/98 Negative Creep Man these kids were all just to cool to hang with me. Even the Geek ;) Great Flick. 5 stars
9/30/98 {{{OZ}}} THE 80s teen angst movie. This and Ferris just owned the genre. A total classic. Totally. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  02-Feb-1985 (R)
  DVD: 01-Nov-2005

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