you came to the right guy if you want to talk about "The Breakfast
Club" - They show it all the time on TNT and if there is one thing
I never pass up on it's a chance to watch "The Breakfast Club"
on TNT! Every time I look in the TV listings and see that TNT is going to
be showing "The Breakfast Club" again I invite all my friends
over for a "Breakfast Club" Party but everybody around here is
so tired of my incredibly realistic impressions of all the characters in
"The Breakfast Club" that nobody ever shows up. Well, I don't
care! Long as they've got "The Breakfast Club" on TNT I don't
need any friends. Hell, they show "The Breakfast Club" on TNT
so much it feels like the characters are my friends! Maybe the next time
TNT shows "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" I'll invite them over
for a "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" Party.
You already know what "The Breakfast Club" is about - Five high school students come in on a Saturday to spend the whole day together on Detention and learn, despite whatever differences they have on the outside, deep down inside where it really counts, they are all the same. Nobody really believes this kind of P.C. B.S., but in today's world we're probably a lot better off with movies like this instead of whatever Rob Zombie comes up with if he ever gets to make another movie after "House Of A Thousand Zombies".
"The Breakfast Club" may not be John Hughes' best movie (That might be "Ferris Beuller's Day Off", "Planes, Trains, And Automobiles", or a version of "Career Opportunities" with everything but the close ups of Jennifer Connelly cut out.), but it is Judd Nelson's best movie and if it was Judd Nelson's only movie there would be more statues of him around here than AOL free start up discs. Judd Nelson is so great in this movie that if he had been killed in a car crash right after "The Breakfast Club" had completed production he would be a Great American Icon like Morey Amsterdam and Johnny Thunders . . . Oh, okay, he would be a Great American Icon like John Ritter and Johnny Cash and I woulda had a shot at playing the lead in "The Cabin By The Lake". Oh, yeahyeahyeah, Judd Nelson is right up there with Mickey Rourke, Jean Claude Van Damme, and (Maybe not now but just wait a couple of years) Jackie Chan when it comes to the Bad Actor Jokes, but as Bender in "The Breakfast Club"? Shoot, Judd Nelson is so good as Bender that - I'm really going out on a limb with this but the limb is at the same level as your daughter's bedroom window, so I'll risk it - I'd say he's as good as Sean Penn as Spicolli in "Fast Times At Ridgemont High", (widely recognized as The Greatest Performance By An Actor As A Wacky Teen Cut Up In An Eighties High School Comedy With Pretensions To Social Significance.) And really, what did Penn ever do after "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" that we can't do without? Would Judd Nelson have been any more repulsive as a retarded guy in that movie with Michelle Pfieffer than Sean Penn was? Maybe I shouldn't have brought that up. That's the last thing my stomach needed after drinking all that coffee. I gotta go lay down. Ugh.
John Hughes came to prominance as a writer for The National Lampoon, the magazine that set the standard for sick humor. Hughes' most notorious Lampoon creation was probably "My Vagina" in which a teenage boy wakes up with a vagina. No, he doesn't wake up with someone who has a vagina - He wakes up with a vagina instead of a penis. Andrew McCarthy would have been a good choice to play the lead in Hughes' eighties movie version. But Hughes never came up with anything for The Lampoon quite as unsettling as "The Breakfast Club"s version of the tradition High School Class Clown John Bender. Like "Fast Times" Spicolli, Bender is a long haired doper but Spicolli is just having fun while Bender is building up steam until he holds up a 7-11 and gets coffee thrown in his face by Judge Reinhold. Hhhmmm, is it possible that I'm just a little bit too into these movies?
Molly Ringwald was considered the Big Star of "The Breakfast Club" at the time it was made but turned out to be just one of those people the media was obsessed with and regular people didn't give a rat's ass about - Kinda like Howard Dean right now. Ringwald is beautiful in this movie - Some of her close ups will really knock you out and I'm not just talking about the one Hughes gives us from up her skirt - but by the time we could talk about how gorgeous she was without looking like perverts she wasn't that gorgeous any more, a condition which has since been identified as "Natasha Lyonne Syndrome."
The other girl in "The Breakfast Club" is Ally Sheedy, but only because it was produced in the Eighties and every American movie produced in the Eighties had Ally Sheedy in it. I found that pretty annoying at the time but I look at her in "The Breakfast Club" today and, yeah, what the hell - She was really cute. Oh, am I being sexist? Hey, you want to get a homosexual Freudian slip outta me you're gonna have to come up with a snazzier bunch of guys than Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, and Anthony Michael Hall (Note To Self - Don't ever write an article about "King Kong Versus Godzilla").
Emilio Estevez is in "The Breakfast Club" but no one makes a fuss over it because he's Emilio Estevez. But Emilio Estevez before "Young Ducks" and "The Mighty Guns" is a whole different kettle of rotten fish than the one that's been sitting under our noses for the past decade or so. The Emilio Estevez in "The Breakfast Club" is the same guy who played Otto in "Repo Man" and Two Bit in "The Outsiders" - Don't try to tell me you didn't love Two Bit in "The Outsiders"! If only the kid who gave us Otto and Two Bit had been riding shotgun when Judd Nelson drove into R.E.M.'s van at one hundred and eighty five miles per hour . . . Can we work Eddie Murphy into that somehow?
And finally there is Anthony Michael Hall as Brian, the little nerdy kid who is on the verge of suicide. Teen Suicide was a Hot Topic in the Eighties but after all the High School Massacres we had in the Nineties, Teen Suicide isn't any more upsetting to us than kids smoking pot or getting stupid tattoos. What the hell, some kid wants to kill himself, let him kill himself - We've got too many of the worthless little shits hanging around already. I never considered suicide until I was thirty three. If these punks are thinking about suicide at sixteen how are they gonna react to the problems they face at thirty fucking three? Quit drinking, get therapy, start taking medication, and writing articles for obscure humor net zines? Believe me, they're better off killing themselves at sixteen.
"The Breakfast Club" opens with a quote from an old David Bowie song which is pretty iggy, I mean, pretty iffy. But it's cool cause Bowie has always had a knack for writing things that seem to apply to your own personal situation. How does that quote at the beginning go? Oh yeah, something like -
"And these children that you spit on as they try to change their world are immune to your consultations,
they're starring in a big Hollywood movie and you're just some dick who couldn't even make it as a stand up comic."
Well, shit, Dave - That's just mean!
A sobering aspect of seeing "The Breakfast Club" today is how much of myself I see in the two adult characters and yeah, that includes the Janitor. Hey, I've been a janitor! But to watch Paul Gleason as "Dick" Vernon, the Teacher stuck with the job of spending his Saturday with these snotty kids, and totally relate to him as he makes a complete ass of himself - Good thing I wasn't a Teacher!
"How come you're not a Teacher anymore, John?"
"Oh, one day I got real mad at this one kid, threw him in a closet, tried to provoke him into hitting me so I could kick his ass, and left him locked up in there."
"Uh . . . "
"And then I spent eight years in prison."
One of Hughes' greatest strengths is his ability to create characters that are ridiculous but make complete sense at the same time. As ugly as Dick's behavior towards the kids is, it's hard to think of any other way to deal with a kid like Bender. "Don't mess with The Bull, young man! You'll get The Horns!" he speaketh. Sound philosophy, but it fails to consider that kids like Bender have been on the receiving ends of them Horns since Day One and are messing with The Bull cause it's the only game they know. "Oh, Saleeby sensitive now! When John Hughes give Long Duck Dong from 'Pretty In Pink' the 'Ridiculous But Make Complete Sense At Same Time' treatment!? Long Duck Dong no threaten teenage boy! No fair!" Eh, get outta here you Nutty Exchange Student, youse!
I guess it's a cute Hollywood Happy Ending to have the kids suddenly pair off into Teenage Romances, but you don't have to be Doctor Laura (Not even Doctor Laura needs to be Doctor Laura anymore. Why doesn't she go away so the station can play the latest syndicated talk radio sensation Crazy John Bender?) to know that these kids are so screwed that getting all googly over each other is the last thing they need? Estevez and Sheedy make a real cute couple, they've probably got a daughter old enough to have a three way with Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards by now. But Bender and the Ringwald girl? My God, is that kid whipped! She takes off a diamond earing, gives it to him, and he puts it in his ear. If she had taken off her skirt and given it to him he'd be walking around in it with a bright red Molly Ringwald Fan Club Wig. It's enough to make you sick. Fortunately we're not in the movie with him. On the way out of school Bender gives the Janitor such a big sappy "I have found the girl of my dreams!!" smile you just know it gave the poor bastard stomach cancer and put him in the ground before he could see the big Aerosmith comeback.
Anyone who knows The Score should have a pretty good idea what Bender is in for once he's dumb enough to pick up the phone and try to talk to that girl. Dear God In Heaven, his stoner buddies are going to get so sick of listening to him whine about that chick he won't have anybody to hang out with but his new little buddy Brian. Hey, wouldn't that have been a terrific late eighties stoner comedy team - Bender And Brian? Shit, Hughes really dropped the ball on that one, that woulda been hilarious! Hey! Let's write a comedy movie script about Bender and Brian in 2003, eighteen years after that fateful day when Bender fell in love with the girl who ruined his life and Brian became best friends with the dope smoking sociopath who ruined his life! And get this - Brian is a frustrated school teacher who has to supervise a bunch of kids on Saturday detention and Bender is the Janitor! BY THE GODS!!! This idea is the sweetest thing since Tracey Gold's Pre Bulimic Butt on "Growing Pains"! You know, it's moments like this that give me the strength to go without killing hookers. But I'm no egomaniac - I put my shoes on one foot at a time just like everybody else.
But I like "The Breakfast Club"s final shot - Bender walking across the football field all by himself and feeling great. Like a lot of us, Bender spends his time moving from loss to loss but when he finds life in that movement rather than the defeat it always leads to he will be really going somewhere. And then Hughes has to blow it with a big stupid Springsteen fist in the air just to remind us what a hard road is ahead for the kid.
"Smoke Up, Johnny!!"
John Saleeby wrote for The National Lampoon while he was in high school, was a stand up comic in New York, and has contributed to the net humor zines Schmuck.com, Campaign Central, and the legendary American Jerk. He's on medication now so he's probably a little nicer now than he was when you met him earlier. Email - firstname.lastname@example.org