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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 14.13%
Average: 4.89%
Pretty Bad: 5.98%
Total Crap: 1.63%

6 reviews, 148 user ratings

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Breakfast Club, The
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by brianorndorf

"Before JC Penney, there was a sublime movie"
5 stars

With everything that “The Breakfast Club” has become over the last two decades, it’s difficult to peel away the pop culture muck and appreciate the elements the film executes so flawlessly. It’s the quintessential teen drama; a compassionate, insightful, and intense motion picture that brings to life the soulful concerns of high schoolers without reducing them to bottom-feeding cliché or marketable MySpace bullet points. It’s John Hughes’s masterwork: the film that has defined his oeuvre and renewed faith in the industry’s capacity for intelligent, youth-slanted cinema.

Gathering early on a Saturday morning for detention at Shermer High School, Brian the brain (Anthony Michael Hall), Claire the princess (Molly Ringwald), Andrew the athlete (Emilio Estevez), Bender the criminal (Judd Nelson), and Allison the basket cast (Ally Sheedy) have come to contemplate their delinquent actions. Monitored by Principal Richard Vernon (the late Paul Gleason), the group is combative, maneuvering around opposing social status and mental health concerns; but as the day wears on, these five strangers start to learn about each other, soon communicating their darkest fears, opening up and developing relationships that wouldn’t dare come to pass during regular school hours.

There’s no doubt that “Breakfast Club” is high-tide melodrama. Hughes draws from a dense pool of stereotypes to unify these characters, who putter about the day inadvertently breaking down social obstructions. In his highly theatrical screenplay, Hughes labels these kids loudly, cleanly drawing the dividing lines that will soon be wiped clean. Opening with a supportive, literally explosive David Bowie quote, Hughes has a specific agenda of discovery for “Breakfast” that eluded the rest of his work; a drive to reveal to the screen the dramatic engineering of the teen experience, idealized through lofty monologues and disrespectful communication.

Perhaps the harshness is why I consider “Breakfast” Hughes’s most enduring work. The detention doesn’t bring the kids closer in a prayer-circle-style joining of hands, but through a more brutal hazing period, led by the sneering rebel Bender, who puts his fellow detainees through his own trial of judgment. Maybe the caustic dialogue emits from the patient, articulate pen of a thirtysomething screenwriter, but the sentiment rushes through the veins of the piece, instilling the feature with needed hostility as the kids try to decode each other through annoyance, jesting, and simple pleas for attention.

“Breakfast Club” is alive with details (one could almost smell the library interior or Vernon’s aftershave), again reinforces Hughes’s musical selection supremacy, and is cast with a superb spectrum of actors who try to engage the screenplay on their own terms. They take Hughes’s expansive stabs at profundity and channel it through their clever, nuanced tics of teenaged behavior, landing the thematic construction of the picture softly inside sincerely inspired performances. I love them all here, with special attention paid to the combative interplay between Gleason and Nelson. The gentlemen bring terror to the material as Vernon searches for a way to capsize Bender and become the alpha male of the morning, robbing the role of one-note wicked ways, revealing Vernon as a haggard man with a genuine fear of his charges and their potentially catastrophic role in his elderly years.

Of course, “Breakfast” contains a jovial mood to match the encroaching gravity. Hughes is wise to illustrate the gang as willing goofs, soon united in making Vernon’s day the worst possible. Again, the interplay of the cast is key here, with each actor sacrificing a certain part of their ego to maintain a sense of communal exploration as the students get high, bop around the library, and engage in impromptu makeovers before the day is over. “Breakfast” is frequently hilarious. Who else but Hughes could work in a “Bridge on the River Kwai” reference, present a lunchtime offering of a Cap’n-Crunch-n-Pixy-Stick sandwich, and construct a Lesteresque hallway chase, and still bring the film down to a manageable size.

The sobering, iconic final act, where the group finally discloses their uncertainties and argumentatively works out their public personas, is where “Breakfast” cuts the deepest. Hughes rests comfortably in his element during a confessional moment like this, imparting the screenplay with germane high school and domestic stories of psychological trauma. Even if one couldn’t relate to the isolation and nakedness of the sequence, the resounding vibration coming off the actors remains something to behold. There’s not a single false beat to be found, concluding “Breakfast” with a singular display of emotional discharge unheard of in its genre.

Battered by disingenuous MTV adoration, diluted through the recent reprehensible marketing plans of “American Teen” and JC Penney, and contorted to become the definitive mocking voice of a generation, it’s easy to gloss over what “Breakfast Club” achieves with a beautiful, modest effort. It’s a story of communication and hesitant friendship, and at the heart of it all is a sincere feature of concern and catharsis within a demographic that’s often disregarded. Hughes paints the discontent and frustration like a master. No matter how much the media tries to water down the resonance of the picture by underlining the era in which it was made, it doesn’t take away the profound characterizations and filmmaking offered for exquisite emotional contemplation.

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originally posted: 09/08/08 04:38:14
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User Comments

1/30/19 Jarod What a classic from the 80s and I enjoy love it 3 stars
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
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'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 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
2/16/00 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
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 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
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  02-Feb-1985 (R)
  DVD: 01-Nov-2005



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