Time to take a look at a movie that was destined to be reviewed on this site sooner or later...The Breakfast Club. Staged in a Saturday detention center of a Chicago school in 1984, its the story all about how marijuana brings kids from different social classes closer together and how even girls who use dandruff for artistic purposes have a chance to get laid. It's a John Hughes classic. :)
The Breakfast Club leads the pack of 'officially 80s' movies, but unlike a lot of the films from that era that've gained cult status for including terms like 'buttmunch' and gratuitous showings of Molly Ringwald, this one's actually a really good flick. Being from over 15 years ago now, it might seem dated, but a lot of what the movie suggests still rings true: people aren't as different as they're led to believe, and given enough time locked in a library together, even the most different types of people can give each other makeup tips.
I honestly don't remember the first time I saw this one...but brat pack films always leave a lasting impression. Think about it. In this movie, Judd Nelson gets hooked up with Molly Ringwald, while Ally Sheedy counts the number of tampons in her bag. By the time St. Elmo's Fire comes around, Judd'll be cheating on Ally with store clerks. Meanwhile, Emilio Estevez, tortured by the loss of Ally after this movie, tries desperately to make us believe that his subplot with the St. Elmo's doctor chick isn't the worst part of that movie. When all is said and done, these guys crossbreed more than a locked room of rabbits, all the while completely unknowing that their careers will eventually dwindle to really bad sitcom television, or in the worst case, made-for-cable television movies that forces them to dyke it out at every given opportunity.
Let's run through the film to try to figure out exactly what makes it so special. Is it the romantic undertones of Judd and Molly? Is it Anthony Michael Hall's rumored charisma? What about the janitor? Everybody loves the janitor. Truth is, its all of that, compiled nicely into what I guess is a pretty accurate representation of how things were in high school circa 1984...
The kids start arriving, preparing to serve hard time for their crimes the week before. These crimes are pretty varied...some have simply ditched school. Others have tried killing themselves with flare guns. Either way, they're a motley crew, and its not very often when the school's headbanging criminal gets stuck in a room with the jock and the beauty queen for eight hours of fun.
The battlegrounds are set. Vernon, one of the school's most embittered employees, lays down the law: no talking, no moving, no breathing. They're supposed to pass the time drawing up an essay about who they are, but procrastination was the second biggest thing in high school next to drugs, so it'll be a long time before anyone even considers that. Vernon heads off to his office to spill coffee, leaving a bunch of kids who would surely never look at each other during regular school time to deal with each other for a full day.
On the left, we find Bender and Brian getting to know each other by simultaneously taking off their coats. Brian's the geek of the group, and is more than a little nervous that he's in direct line-of-sight to four other people. Meanwhile, the second picture shows my favorite detentionite of the movie, Crazy Alison.
Now, almost everyone likes Crazy Alison the best, and almost everyone feels unique in that train of thought. Nuh uh, its really a pretty standard ranking. Alison lies about being a nympho and eats a sandwich filled with Corn Pops, so she's really striking oil with the bonus points. Then, you've got to remember, nobody picks Molly Ringwald as their favorite. So who else were you going to pick? While our powers of deduction are on the mark, everyone else isn't offering to share their milk with the poor girl, who's designated to biting her fingernails and chirping.
Meanwhile, Bender's taken a shine to school's beauty queen, Claire. By taking a shine, of course I mean calling her a fat virgin with a stupid name. Young love. Bender, generally, isn't too fond of anyone in the room, but he's chosen Claire as his main target.
As a means to further wreak havoc, Bender decides to take the bolts out of the open door and cut the noise level down from Vernon. Its a risky decision, and one vastly protested, but Bender's not hearing it. Those bolts are coming off one way or another, leaving the door to slam, and leading us to...this...
If you thought the elements of this movie was combustible before, now the students have Vernon to worry about too!
Bender, unwilling to accept an authority figure, racks up another two months of detention. But! All the other students say that the door closed on its own, so are we seeing a little camaraderie forming here? Not likely. While the kids will invariably team up against the greater evil, they still don't understand each other.
Emilio Estevez plays Andrew, one of the school's biggest jocks, incarcerated for taping a geek's ass together. At least he gets some bonus points for creativity. And while he's no angel, he's certainly not appreciative of Bender continuing to Badger his party girl comrade, Claire. After winning a small fight, Bender produces a knife. And that's where we get one of our only signs that this movie's dated. If this happened in today's schools, Emilio would've been shot and some goth band's albums would've been burned.
Its becoming pretty clear that things in this school library are going to take a turn for the worse if something isn't done. Sadly, there's no televisions around, so they can't slap on a happy movie to calm everyone's nerves. So they send in the next best thing...Eddie the Janitor.
Its hard to explain how Eddie smoothed things over, but he did. He's like a Christmas tree. People never fight when a Christmas tree is around, and likewise, the kids start lowering their defenses after Eddie's appearance. There's also some back story with Eddie and Brain, but the magnitude of the bad jokes one could conjure up based on that is so great, I'm just gonna skip it altogether.
Andrew and Alison are elected to go buy the drinks for the students' lunchbreak, and this is when they start kindling their inevitable romance. The more time they spend with each other, the more the kids start realizing they have more in common than they think...and when they don't, their ability to understand each other's plights become greater. Meanwhile, Brian tries to cover Bender's accusation that he said he deflowered poor Claire. As it turns out, he just didn't want her to know he was a virgin. Of course, this sparks another debate: is supervixen Claire herself a virgin? More on that later!
Lunchtime, and by this point, at least no one's trying to kill each other. Don't get me wrong, almost all of them fight, but they're more interested in figuring each other out than just calling each other assholes.
Bender convinces the rest of the gang to come with him through the halls of the school. They're not sure what he's looking for, and half of them still don't like him too much, but hey, eight hours in a school library versus running around the halls to some really bad 80s music? Choice is obvious.
Of course, Bender's looking for his stash. An angel on his shoulder let him know that pot is certainly the best ice breaker in situations like these. Unfortunately, Vernon's hot on their trail, and its looking like they're about to be caught. Bender, who previously didn't show much care for his company, takes off screaming, sacrificing himself to the evils of the school administration to save his newfound somewhat-friends.
Evil Vernon, who's had it up to here with Bender, locks him in a closet and invites him to throw a punch. As we find out, Bender's tough guy image is really there just to protect himself...he doesn't throw the punch. Evil Vernon leaves, satisfied in his triumph, not realizing that Bender could potentially escape by crawling into the school ceiling and climbing back into the library. Give him some points for effort there, a lesser man would've just bided his time through the rest of detention. He must've really liked Molly Ringwald.
I also should note that my recording was taped off of an old WPIX 8'o'clock movie. Which means that we get some really bad dub jobs to successively turn this one into a PG movie. I don't know if you guys have ever used an internet message board that blocked out 'fuck' with 'fark!' and 'shit' with 'stuff' before, but it works the same way here. If anyone says 'asshole', I got 'meathead'. 'Fuck' was usually turned into 'stupid', leaving the movie with some lines that made absolutely no sense. 'No Dad, what about you? Stupid you! No Dad...what...about...you? STUPID YOU'!
Now we're getting to the juicy parts. All these kids have problems. Big problems. Thing is, they can't really talk to their family or friends about them, since they're usually the problems. So, since they're all basically strangers and have no social status with each other, they throw it all down.
Alison empties out her runaway purse. At first, Brian and Andrew can't do much but laugh, a usual reaction to when a girl you barely know who had previously spit her cuticles at Judd Nelson drops 144 tampons on your lap. Then they claim she just wants attention...another usual reaction to when a girl you barely know drops 144 tampons on your lap. Eventually, Andrew runs after her and gets her to bare her dark and twisted soul. They share sob stories, but they've still got cottonmouth from the pot, so they'll save the kiss for later.
The Circle Of Truth. I'm just realizing something...that's one fucking amazing library. It's huge! My high school's library fit about 250 books and one of those pen dispenser machines. This place looks like a hotel lobby.
In the Circle of Truth, the kids start really letting loose. Its revealed that Claire is a virgin, and that despite all the friendliness, she knows peer pressure will keep her from acknowledging all her new friends on Monday. Alison lies about being a nympho, then admits she's a compulsive liar who only came to detention because she had nothing better to do that day. Meanwhile, Andrew decides to take the podium...
I've always found this scene hysterical. I know its not meant to be, but you've got to consider the circumstances. Andrew's a jock with a deep heart, the whole movie he's been holding in what's driving him mad: his father. He's in detention for something he did only to impress his father and to make him appear more like his son, something by which he tells us while dramatic music plays and the camera pans sorrowfully across his face: he taped some kid's asscheeks together. Now, I understand that this is supposed to be a dramatic moment, and I guess it is, but under that context, its impossible not to find funny. I actually think Emilio's a much better actor than he gets credit for, but he always ends up with a pretty ridiculous background story in these movies. And then he ends up training Mighty Ducks. Oh well, at least he's one of the only ones in this group that can still land movie roles instead of appearances on Oprah about the Brat Pack.
Brian also has some confessions to make. This circle of truth deal is sort of like one of those cruel games people play at sleepovers. Brian informs us that unlike Claire suggests, his kind does understand the concept of pressure. Brian received an 'F' in shop class. He couldn't make his handcrafted lamp work. But...an F? That'll ruin his entire GPA! Everything he worked for...ruined! So how did Brain land in detention? Well, he decided the shop class failure was too much to deal with. He had to do himself in. So he got a flare gun and threw it in his locker. Yes, Brian was going to attempt the ol' shot down the throat method with a flare gun. Luckily, the thing went off in his locker before his intentions came to fruition, and here he is...in detention...with Ally Sheedy.
Ugh, one of my friends taped this off of television. And he did a really shitty job. Only half the commercials were cut out, and the ones that weren't aren't even worth reviewing. All I got was a roach killer commercial, something about ice cream, and this...Monistat 7. The worst part is, since the movie was edited for network television, they killed off the part where everyone smokes Bender's pot. Luckily, most of the aftermath remains...
Dancing! The pot dance sequence was great...a symbol of unity among the troops! You know, there's one big difference between movies of the past and movies of the present here...the potheads used to be the good guys. Check out your local teen drama on television...when someone offers up some smoke, its a call for the entire cast to form an intervention against evil, various hospitalizations, and sometimes even gang beatings. Haven't they watched The Breakfast Club Pot brings people together! And besides, it might be our only chance to see Ally Sheedy and Judd Nelson do the electric slide. As if that's not great enough, the background score was so 80s...Click here for a Karla DeVito classic from the movie!
In a show of friendship, Claire decides that somewhere beneath Alison's twelve layers of black mascara lies a pretty girl. So she gives her a makeover. Now, my only guess about Alison is that she's not just a crazy goth, she's one of those psychic crazy goths. Its the only way to explain why she brought along a colorful backup outfit with matching accessories. Personally, I liked old school Ally better, but there's really only one person who's opinion matters at this point...and if he can stop crying about how he's beating up kids for no reason for a second, we'll find out how he feels about this updated Alison...
The Verdict: She's hot! Andrew practically licks his chops when he sees her, but since they've both got cottonmouth from the pot, they'll save the kiss for later. Meanwhile, Brian likes what he sees too, but since Alison is a looker now, she figures she may as well grab a rub from the popular crowd while her fairy tale lasts.
Detention's done. School's out. Time for everybody to leave...changed, hopefully for the better. We never find out what happens the following Monday at school when they're destined to see each other again, but at least we can guess at the blossoming romances..
Claire hooks up with Bender. Alison nails Andrew. Brain writes an essay. It might not seem like a fair division, but at least Brian gets to have the last line in the movie. Meanwhile, all these kids make out in front of their mothers and fathers, only they don't care...because their whole outlook on life has changed! Destiny dealt some pretty substantial cards when Claire got caught ditching class and Brian got caught attempting suicide, don't you think? Anyway, they were all supposed to write an essay to Vernon about who they are. After talking to each other and getting to know one another, they realize that Vernon and everyone else has already made up their minds about them, so what's the point? Click here to hear Brian's essay about who the Breakfast Club really is. Yeah, he got shafted into writing it for everyone.
The 80s gave us a lot of 'classics', but only a handful of those had actual substance. This is one of them...the moral lessons learned still hold true today, and we skip by without having a single appearance by Demi Moore before she learned how to act. Definitely recommended...I was 5 when this movie came out, so you definitely don't need to be thirtysomething to appreciate it. And besides, its got a great song by the Simple Minds. Chances are good that if you own any 80s compilation tape, you have it, but for those who don't, rape my bandwidth and download Don't Forget About Me by clicking here. (4 MB)
And if you're worried about getting your Brat Pack fix, don't be...you can also check out the alternate universe future of The Breakfast Club by checking out this movie...
Picture Alison and Bender getting it on while Andrew gives up sports to be Rob Lowe's buddy and you've got yourself St. Elmo's Fire. I don't know if I have it in me to do a full review on this one sober, but if you've got four hours to spare instead of just two, go rent both these movies and catch up on how things never were back in the mid-80s.