A woman claiming to be my #1 fan has begged me for
months to watch and review this 80's staple and, not wanting to get my
ankles shattered with a sledgehammer, I decided to oblige her. She
told me THE BREAKFAST CLUB was her favorite movie and she'd
watched it scores of times and even reenacted the movie herself with
action figures. I expected it to be good--after all, this woman has the
good taste to be obsessed with my writing. Of course, it turns out I
didn't like THE BREAKFAST CLUB as much as I thought I would and
only gave it a two-and-a-half star rating, so I may get the
sledgehammer treatment yet.
The movie works in theory--an ambitious teen comedy from
John Hughes (WEIRD SCIENCE, FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF)
taking place almost entirely in a high school library where five
completely different students are spending their Saturday in detention
for one transgression or another. The concept appealed to me, as did
the movie's opening, which featured voice-overs from each of the
characters as they arrived for their punishment (to the background
strains of an extended version of Simple Minds' "Don't You Forget
About Me"). I kept waiting for some brilliant comedy dialogue to come
along, but except for a few small laughs, not too much entertainment
The characters are cut out of the basic teen stereotypes.
There's the rebellious Neanderthal (Judd Nelson, who might as well be
called Judd Dredd), the stuck-up "princess" (Molly Ringwald, entering
her eighth minute of fame here), the wrestling-letter jock (Emilio
Estevez), the brainy nerd (Anthony Michael Hall) and the antisocial
freak (Ally Sheedy). These five people would normally never associate
with each other, but the circumstances force them to get to know each
other and eventually, as the laws of predictability clearly state, become
Predictability reigns supreme in THE BREAKFAST CLUB
without ever having any original insights to redeem it. When you have
a movie that consists of 95% dialogue, the dialogue better be
something good, alternatingly funny or poignant. The majority of the
time, THE BREAKFAST CLUB is neither. And when the climactic
moment you knew was coming finally arrives, it seems out of place.
All of a sudden, the characters launch into speeches about how bad
their lives are. Ringwald's got pressure from her friends, Estevez has a
domineering father who's trying to regain his lost youth through his
son, Nelson's home life sucks, Hall is flunking shop class and Sheedy
is just plain nuts. These monologues should be dramatic or touching,
but something's missing and I'm not quite sure what. The
performances are all good, but something in the writing is lacking
here and in the rest of the movie.
THE BREAKFAST CLUB has always been touted as one of
the quintessential teen movies of the 80's and, like I said, I was
expecting it to be one, but it let me down by combining a predictable
plot with bad writing. It's also unnecessarily depressing at parts, with
an ending that's supposed to make up for all the angst-ridden
arguments. [WARNING: Don't read this part if you don't want to
know the ending.] Out of nowhere, Ringwald, who has stated
repeatedly how much she hates Nelson and spent the movie arguing
with him, suddenly starts making out with him for no reason at all. It's
almost as contrived as having Ringwald give Sheedy a makeover.
Suddenly she's a _beautiful_ freak and Estevez likes her. The end.
I guess I'll have to notify my #2 fan that she's just been promoted.
Copyright © 1996 Andrew Hicks