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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 7.41%
Average: 4.44%
Pretty Bad: 2.22%
Total Crap: 7.41%

3 reviews, 117 user ratings

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Sixteen Candles
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by brianorndorf

"The John Hughes legacy begins"
5 stars

For his directorial unveiling, John Hughes selected a piece of material held close to his heart; a screenplay that contained beloved topics: the chaos of the nuclear family and the humiliation/redemption of the average American teen. “Sixteen Candles” is largely Hughes testing his gifts behind the camera, inadvertently pioneering a genre that would come to define his career. It’s a rough sketch of future triumphs, but “Candles” is a brazenly mischievous, consistently uproarious comedy that christens the devastating Hughes-fu with vivacious results.

Samantha Baker (Molly Ringwald) has finally turned 16, with all the promise of pubescent growth that accompanies the landmark age, and nobody has noticed. With Samantha’s extended family trying to marry off her older sister, the lonely teen turns her attentions to school crush and popular stud Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling), who appears to return the interest, much to her horror. Caught in the middle is geek Farmer Ted (Anthony Michael Hall), a freshman with designs on Samantha, but also fears the senior wrath of Jake. When the night brings a blow-out party, Farmer Ted and Jake join forces to locate Samantha, while the perturbed teen tries to make the most of a crucial birthday that no one bothered to celebrate.

Bringing a multi-flavored wit honed at the offices of the National Lampoon, and working off the success of his 1983 screenwriting effort, the incomparable “Vacation,” John Hughes accepted the offer of prestigious feature-film direction duties with utmost seriousness. Perhaps this is why “Sixteen Candles” has a certain fearlessness about it that could only emerge from a newcomer ready to please and unable to discern industry limits.

While hardly a revolutionary screenplay, “Candles” is nevertheless a work of unparalleled comic generosity, merging customary teen hijinks with a newfound sense of timing, character depth, and concentrated group effort. Hughes writes for the rafters, creating a barnstorming effort for his first film that mixes slapstick with truthful teen attitude, rather confidently introducing a sharp edge to the genre that brings the Clearasil crowd to light in a rewarding manner. Hughes refuses to entertain cliché, instead turning every character into a small cradle of authenticity, either in a directly comic fashion or through evocative adolescent impediment. “Sixteen Candles” brings on the laughs in impressive fashion, but Hughes cares about these characters as he brusquely shakes them down for laughs. It’s an intoxicating equilibrium that the filmmaker would explore to even greater satisfaction as the decade wore on.

Hughes’s eye for casting is also a miracle that produces a movie with atypical encouragement. As the central image of self-conscious, gawky teendom, Ringwald’s portrayal of Samantha’s superficial suffering during this high tide of romantic entanglements and prized breast development (or lack thereof) sets the gold standard for slack-jawed youthful performances. There’s never a moment where the audience doesn’t believe Samantha’s horror as her day goes from bad to worse. While a teen herself during filming, Ringwald conveys the ideal level of angst, facing down a family that’s ignored her, a love interest she can’t even talk to, and a geek who wants to rent her panties out to avoid paying off a hefty floppy disk wager. Ringwald sells the bejesus out of the role, and Hughes uses her pubescent discomfort to backdrop the film’s more robust sequences of indignity.

Truthfully, “Candles” is teeming with outstanding work from the entire troupe, with the possible exception of Schoeffling. Oh, I get the whole “dreamboat” attributes of the actor, but the character is a complete sleaze (casually chatting up how he could “violate” his inebriated girlfriend to Farmer Ted), and Schoeffling is visibly half-asleep during his performance. Mercifully, Hughes fills the rest of the cast out with amazingly game talent, from the infamous Chinese exchange student Long Duk Dong (an adorable Gedde Watanabe) to Samantha’s alternately over-protective and pervy grandparents (Billie Bird, Edward Andrews, Carole Cook, and Max Showalter), who run off with the film with the little screentime they’re permitted.

Of course, there’s Anthony Michael Hall as the Gandalf of the geeks, the lecherous Farmer Ted. If my black magic skills were up to snuff, I would plop Hall into a Ziploc bag at this pristine age and hold onto him forever. Certainly the actor found stronger roles with Hughes as time wore on, but he was never quite as fresh, convincingly clumsy, and as easily led as he was in “Candles.” Hall knocks every scene out of the park with his fluid timing and general embryonic appearance. He’s a memorable orthodontics-enhanced thorn for the film to abuse as Hughes sees fit.

In “Sixteen Candles,” John Hughes made the high school experience relevant again, resuscitating the horror of forced social functions such as the dreaded afternoon bus ride or evening dance. In 1984, it restored some dignity to teen cinema, bringing along needed playfulness. In 2008, the sensations still resonate, with renewed appreciation for the exceptional performances, a crackerjack soundtrack of ‘80s pop hits (if there’s Thompson Twins, there’s Brian with a smile), and the universal concept of a teenager melting down on the most important day of her life.

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originally posted: 09/08/08 04:37:00
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User Comments

11/20/11 cody a funny movie with great performances by the cast, hall is awsome and molly is great. 4 stars
1/25/10 Chad Dillon Cooper Funny film about being a teenager in the 80's 4 stars
12/07/09 cd I'm having a hard time writing a reaction paper to this film. I just think it lacks depth. 1 stars
4/03/09 Dane Youssef A sweet, funny story about a girl who wants appriciation and the crazy men in her life. 4 stars
11/21/08 KB5 1 of my all time favorite movies...Jake Ryan! "What's happenin' hot stuff?" Long Duck Dong 5 stars
10/11/08 Colleen H Loved it in the 80's, love watching it with my adult children now. 4 stars
9/29/08 George Barksdale Was worth a look one time, but not twice 3 stars
4/12/08 John Millheim Takes me back to my youth, funny movie and a great classic 5 stars
4/28/07 Dina "my parent's forgetting my b-day just makes it more vivid!" Awesome!! 5 stars
2/09/07 Phantom/16 Lover BEST MOVIE EVER!!!!!!!!!!! LOVE 16!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
6/08/06 btvs2678 Still a classic. Great 80's movie 5 stars
5/27/06 Sheena So easy to relate to those tough teen years. 5 stars
1/17/05 Jeff Anderson Some of J. Hughes' best work. M.R. and A.M.H. are both great, but G. Watanabe is a scream!! 5 stars
11/08/04 Kelly Nicole GREAT movie, Jake Ryan, are u out there?? Looking for me?!? 5 stars
9/01/04 A upton Yipp Ringwald was a hottie. 5 stars
8/13/04 Andie farmer ted steals the show fo sho! definitely numero 1 on my movie list! i loathe the bus 5 stars
7/15/04 R.W. Welch Amiable teen rom-com, done with more finesse than most. 3 stars
3/29/04 JimmyC "Dong!!! Grandpa is talking to you!!!" 5 stars
1/27/04 Katie Malone Good film! 4 stars
12/27/03 J The movie was funny, but it didn't add up. ** 1/2 out 4 3 stars
12/26/03 Mason No way Jose. You beat up my face. 5 stars
12/24/03 Katherine A classic. AMAZING!! I love Jake Ryan!! I must find Shermer Illinois. 5 stars
11/23/03 Bill Searcy This film should be rated R 1 stars
6/22/03 cochese cmon people, this movie is WAAAAAAY overrated, watchable, but overrated. 3 stars
5/24/03 Robyn The greatest comedy of all time! 5 stars
5/02/03 Kiko Jones Hughes' first and probably best teen movie 4 stars
2/07/03 Dana Best Film of All Time 5 stars
12/29/02 Kristine Molly Ringwald is my hero because of this movie! It's a classic. 5 stars
12/13/02 Cari "oh sexy girlfriend" *falls out of tree* -Dong LMAO 5 stars
11/13/02 Sonya Best 80 5 stars
10/18/02 Charles Tatum "Dong? Dong? Where is my automobile?" Classic stuff 5 stars
10/06/02 elise fuller best movie ive ever seen. love jake ryan 5 stars
7/26/02 Bada Bing Crosby You own a church? Maybe the most quotable movie ever made 5 stars
6/09/02 Teresa Loved the actors:chinese guy, grandparents, geeks... outragious scenes..Can be seen again!! 5 stars
5/20/02 Amanda any sixteen year old loser who adores the popular guy in school must see this movie! 4 stars
2/26/02 Beatrice I love this movie and i love everything about it!!! *\o/* 5 stars
1/31/02 Dragon it rocks 5 stars
1/15/02 Elly i remember when i got this movie for my 16th bday and fell in love! best 80's movie!!! 5 stars
12/25/01 yusuf lolo 5 stars
12/17/01 Sixteen Candles Yo Dude... it's "No more yankie rum, drinky. The Donger need food." 3 stars
12/14/01 Sara Ooh, so 80´s! What a lovely film! 5 stars
11/22/01 pattie holt I liked the movie when i was 16 5 stars
11/21/01 topaz I'm at a loss... I'll just say this is a classic movie. I absolutely love it. 5 stars
11/18/01 Abadi 5 stars
11/14/01 About as good as Judd Nelson playing a teenager (or playing anything for that matter) 1 stars
11/06/01 Jeff Hall Racist towards all asians. 1 stars
11/03/01 MC About as good as Judd Nelson playing a teenager (or playing anything for that matter) 1 stars
10/19/01 paula mcculley its a great movieMichael Schoeffling is every girls dream especially mine 5 stars
10/09/01 hailey johnson its a really good movie with lots of funny parts!!!! 5 stars
9/26/01 audrie i loved it !!!! especially molly,she's the best!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
9/17/01 Amy Jake Ryan...Ahhhhh!!!!!!! 5 stars
8/12/01 sbephie Definately the best, Jake Ryan, you are amazing!! 5 stars
8/07/01 E-Funk I love Hughes's films...this one is up there, but not top-dawg. 4 stars
7/30/01 Sharon Hunt This is by far my favorite movie. I mean what better way to describe the teenage years. 5 stars
7/29/01 JesseL Only a pathetic loser could have a crush on Molly Ringwald. What a yenta! 1 stars
7/10/01 M "Jake Ryan" is GORGEOUS!!!! 5 stars
6/26/01 Katie May i think that Jake Ryan is the hottest man. And john cusack, has potential. 5 stars
6/24/01 lisa i loved it 5 stars
6/24/01 go it sucks 1 stars
6/23/01 KC Jake Ryan is so HOT! Why'd he disappear??? 5 stars
6/17/01 Blair Wilson That movie is just too funny, but Jake's cute, Go get him Sam 5 stars
6/16/01 Tony Coppola Jake was the best 5 stars
6/15/01 Law Firm of Dewey, Cheatam & Howe Mallied? MALLIED! 5 stars
6/10/01 chris bauer the best movie 5 stars
6/05/01 angie micheal schoeffling who plays jake ryan is soooooooooooooooooooo HOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
6/02/01 Jim Ringwald is so whiiinnnneyyyy 1 stars
5/29/01 Serena The Best Movie Ever 5 stars
5/28/01 Heather Sixteen Candle and The Breakfast Club are my all time favorite movies of all time! 5 stars
5/24/01 Deanna If only my sixteen birthday had turned out like this!!! 5 stars
5/18/01 jamie the donger is my hero!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/17/01 meg it was a good movie 5 stars
5/16/01 openface a duck's dong 5 stars
5/11/01 Melanie I love this movie!!!! 5 stars
5/07/01 Pete Wrigley What the hell are you bitchin about? I have to sleep underneath some Chinaman named after 5 stars
5/07/01 Mikado It was OK, funny at parts 3 stars
5/07/01 Molly JAKE RYAN IS HOT!!!! 5 stars
5/05/01 Jada G This is my all time favorite movie! It's a great love/ comeing of age story 5 stars
4/23/01 Robert Stewart Best song for an ending. Tied with Breakfast Club as best movie for the time period. 5 stars
4/20/01 haywood jablowme this sucked ass! 1 stars
4/17/01 Danielle I think this movie rules more than any other, it is definately my favorite movie ever.. 5 stars
4/16/01 Kaitlyn This is the best movie ever made! Its soooo funny I watch it every day! 5 stars
4/16/01 Nate Good film except that the DVD changes some of the original songs, I was appalled. 5 stars
4/11/01 Clarice best movie of the '80s! 5 stars
4/09/01 Gary I've never seen the whole thing, but I'm a huge "brat pack" fan! 5 stars
3/27/01 k-dawg HOT! 5 stars
3/14/01 Jake Farrelly bros. eat your heart out! This is a classic. 5 stars
2/25/01 alex h its every girls wish to have her prince waiting for her outside church 5 stars
2/25/01 Christi It's just like the real thing! 5 stars
2/05/01 BiG PiMP GAY!GAY!GAY! 1 stars
1/31/01 jamie Carpenter this was the best 80's movie ever!!!!! 5 stars
12/04/00 liz i love sixteen candles 5 stars
8/19/00 Kristen I loved it! i relly can relate with Sam, you being a teenager and having crushes and all. 5 stars
5/13/00 Bender I'm not as taken with this movie as some people are, but its still funny and charming. 4 stars
4/13/00 Rita This Movie ROCKS 5 stars
3/07/00 Jenn One of the best flicks EVER! Love those 80's John Hughes films! 5 stars
2/11/00 Kyle Broflovski "I can't believe my grandmother actually felt me up," HYSTERICAL!!!! 5 stars
12/02/99 Amy this is the best movie! 5 stars
11/16/99 Lane this movie was bomb!!! i loved it, 5 stars
10/18/99 Christine Filipowski This is my absolute favorite movie of all time, and I think it always will be. 5 stars
9/16/99 strike has the world gone mad!! it's only a John Hughes movie and not even one of his best. 2 stars
8/20/99 Tara This is my favorite movie of all time and it always will be! 5 stars
6/28/99 Chuck Harris - Darren's father. Really thought Darren Harris (Cliff) was great. 5 stars
6/17/99 matchbox20 Classic movie. Buy the movie! 5 stars
5/10/99 Jebey Great film--love Molly, 4 stars
5/03/99 JJ CLASSIC. Too bad half the shit Hollywood is pumping out isn't this fucking good 5 stars
4/24/99 gibb "she go to church to marry oily bohonk" Long Duck rules!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
4/19/99 It's me One of my all time faves. Hall is So talented -what the hell happened to him? Humm see it! 5 stars
4/11/99 Alonzo mOLly ringwalds best movie. Plus it has the cool cusaks in it 5 stars
4/07/99 lianesse funny, but anthony michael hall---ahhhhh 2 stars
4/06/99 Michael Grimm It rocked 5 stars
4/04/99 Albert T.H.E. B.E.S.T. It's sofa city, sweetheart. 5 stars
10/24/98 Kwyjibo Long duk rules!! I like to think of Molly never having sex. She's my generation's virgin. 5 stars
9/30/98 {{{OZ}}} Three words: Long Duk Dong. Funny flick. 5 stars
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  02-Feb-1984 (PG)
  DVD: 01-Nov-2005



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