For many ’80s teens, it was more real and more relatable than a lot of other films of the era. That idea was helped along in part because there was a character for everyone — the jock, the brain, the prom queen, the weirdo, the punk.
Even if you were a combination of two or more of the types, the connection was what gave this high school movie the kind of spark that has already lasted into middle age.
The Breakfast Club: A Hollywood High (1985)
Excerpted from the Tampa Bay Times (Florida) February 15, 1985
Just when you thought it would be easier to sit through dental surgery than another high school comedy, John Hughes comes along with the best film of his promising young career, a teen-age daydream that even adults can love…
TAKE FIVE high school kids, order them to Saturday detention for nine hours and leave them to their own devices: That’s the operating framework. The action involves what happens when these almost total strangers attempt communication.
By the time this delightful film ends, they have completed the day’s assignment, an essay entitled “Who Am I?,” without having to write it. Hughes facilitates the story by making the principal characters stereotypes.
For the most part, everyone has known kids like these at one time or another: the wisenheimer brain (Anthony Michael Hall), the rich prom queen (Molly Ringwald), the uptight jock (Emilio Estevez), the budding bag lady (Ally Sheedy) and the rebellious punk (Judd Nelson).
Nelson’s John Bender is the pivotal character, a roughneck with a fierce sense of independence. As soon as the teacher (Paul Gleason) returns to his office, Bender initiates the action by turning on the others. He baits Claire (Ringwald), goads Andrew (Estevez) and bullies Brian (Hall).
Battle lines are quickly established. Only Allison (Sheedy) is removed from the group’s skirmishing. She sits alone in her own little world, silent for the first hour, except for the occasional yelp or whistle, the latter coming in spirited concert with the other prisoners.
Meet “The Breakfast Club” (1985)
Excerpted from an article by Anna Madrzyk – Daily Herald (Chicago, Illinois) February 15, 1985
Although it’s billed as a comedy, some of the best moments in “The Breakfast Club” aren’t funny.
Filmed in Des Plaines, “The Breakfast Club” is the story of one Saturday in the life of five suburban teenagers serving an all-day detention in the school library.
Before the end of the day, the students — a jock, a brain, a princess (beauty), a punk (rebel), and a recluse — share some secrets and discover they have more in common than they thought.
It’s being called “The Big Chill” for teenagers, although it doesn’t quite measure up to that comparison. But, like writer/director John Hughes’ previous film, “16 Candles,” this movie is more than just another teen comedy.
There are several sensitive performances by the talented young cast, which includes Molly Ringwald, who starred in the recent TV movie “Surviving”; Anthony Michael Hall, the geek in “16 Candles”; Emilio Estevez, the lookalike son of Martin Sheen, who starred in the cult movie “Repo Man“; and Ally Sheedy, the strong-willed girlfriend in “War Games.”
… Most of the action occurs in the library of the mythical Shermer High School, which is really the shuttered Maine North High School in Des Plaines, where the movie was filmed last year.
Filmmakers transformed Maine North’s vast gymnasium into a library with 15,000 books, dummy card catalogs and a papier-mache Henry Moore sculpture…
The psychoanalzying that occurs among the students is occasionally a bit much, but there are some powerful exchanges as the student laugh, cry, share secrets and talk about the pressures they face — pressures to get As in school, to lose their virginity and to hang around only with “cool” people.
But, as the straight-A student asks the most popular girl in class, will they still be friends on Monday? Some of the members of “The Breakfast Club,” at least, probably will.
ANOTHER JOHN HUGHES MOVIE: Take the day off to see Ferris Bueller (1986)