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Episode 152 - The Breakfast Club (w/ Christy Lemire)

Episode 152 - The Breakfast Club (w/ Christy Lemire)  

45 members have voted

  1. 1. Should "The Breakfast Club" enter The Canon?

    • Yes
      32
    • No
      13


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I must somewhat ashamedly admit that I have never seen The Breakfast Club, so I shall abstain from voting. What I will say, though, is that, watching Ferris Bueller's Day Off as an adult, I realized just what a goddamned sociopath the title character is.

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Yes.

 

I don't love The Breakfast Club (for many of the reasons Amy mentions), but I think it's too iconic and too unique not to go in.

 

It's so associated with typical 80s pop culture that we tend to forget just how unique it is. What else is like The Breakfast Club? John Hughes' other teen movies are comedies. The Breakfast Club has funny moments, but I wouldn't call it a comedy. It's a character driven drama about people getting to know each other that's set mostly in one location; it's the closest thing we have to a teenage version of My Dinner with Andre. (It would make for a good double bill: start with Breakfast, finish with Dinner. You'll know all about reaction shots by the end.)

 

The fact that its politics are so dated is part of what makes it worth preserving. Nowadays, it's hard to imagine someone making a movie about five very different kids who learn that they're not so different after all, and make them all white kids, most of whom enter a heterosexual relationship. And then there's all the uncomfortable ideas about gender. But it's good to remember just how different the world was back then, and look at (and celebrate) the changes we've made; a classic piece of pop culture is often a great history lesson.

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loved the idea for this epp. i read ringwald's piece in the new yorker when it came out and found it so thoughtful.

 

rewatching hughes gets tougher and tougher as time goes on. i totally get being able to judge art (mostly) according to the norms and thinking available to its creators at the time the art was made but still... even in 1984 a gong to intro long duck dong? blech.

 

what we can do though is check our feelings as we rewatch to see just what has changed and by how much. and that's where hughes is so useful. especially if you grew up with these movies — i was a sophomore when breakfast club came out and i remember my typing teacher (yeah typing... on a selectric with, like, paper) started class one monday after she'd seen it to talk about it with us. and breakfast club makes me very uncomfortable now. not just because of the assaulty inappropriateness, but because the resolution is so facile, just identifiable stereotypes clunking against each other, albeit in mostly fun and funny scenes led by great acting (AMH FTW), and all of the sudden they're coupled off. yeah, let's see how long they last together the following monday.

 

so i'm struggling. i want hughes in the canon, somehow. those movies went right to my heart at one point. and i still put them on from time to time. but i have no clear way to pick one; none are perfect (maybe bueller, but i'll get to that in a sec). it'd have to be for some cultural merit rather than the movie in and of itself.

 

16 candles, well, the gong, the handing off of the girlfriend from one guy to another, plus the probable date rape.

 

breakfast club has all the shortcomings already mentioned in the pod.

 

pretty in pink, i used to love. but as i age, i find duckie an asshole. (also, that my real soulmate in the movie is iona. never saw that coming...) then again, i loved ringwald's point in the new yorker article when she mentioned that duckie is based on her real-life best friend, who turned out to be gay, and hadn't come out yet at the time of filming. maybe through that lens, duckie is redeemable. ...here comes another rewatch.

 

(can't speak to some kind of wonderful ATM because it's been forever. maybe that one has a clear trajectory? even with that ending...)

 

then bueller. ok, funny movie. i'll give it that. but i FUCKING HATE ferris. it's like, the whole movie is a rich white male privilege how-to or something. and there's no arc. just, keep being a dick ferris, you'll never face consequences.

 

so, maybe a hot take here, but... is weird science the most socially redeemable of the bunch? yeah, the premise is sexist. but once lisa is on the scene, she has all the power. the two boys do have a learning arc to sort of earn their coming of age. and chet, well, you know what happens to chet. (ok, we may have to bracket the bar scene, because i'm not sure if the boys are talking like that because they are drunk or because they think they are on a par with the black old timers.)

 

and that's it, right? (of the teen angst hughes, anyway. i'm not getting into the john candy stuff here.)

 

bottom line for me, no on breakfast club. will have to watch weird science to see if there's any unsavoriness i forgot. and if i absolutely have to, will lean toward sixteen candles even through the really blatant issues, just because it was the ground breaker that allowed the rest of them. though maybe it wasn't hughes's credit so much as the utter charm of ringwald and michael hall.

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I came to this with a certain amount of dread. I understand that the concept of the canon is that it's not about whether a movie is good, but so many movies I dislike get in. I really dislike this movie. I listened carefully to the podcast, and I thought I had an open mind, but what I heard was the guest cataloging many bad things about the movie that coincide with my opinion, and talking with love about a movie that I do not like and never have liked.

 

I'd say that I was a little too old for this movie when it came out -- except that's not true. I guess it was r-rated, but it seems like it should have resonated more with younger kids because the characters were so poorly drawn -- more like what people who haven't been to high school think high school is like? Except that's not true in my memory. I went to a sold out showing at a suburban theater on opening night. I hated it, but my best friend's older brother loved it, and it seemed like the audience did too. The audience appeared to be in the older teens, young 20s. So maybe I've always been the odd one. I strongly feel that this is a bad, bad movie. Random thoughts (just to get it out of my system):

 

I understand the argument that a brat pack movie should be in the canon, but why not the terrible St. Elmo's Fire? That's the penultimate brat pack movie.

 

As for Hughes, I loved 16 Candles when it came out, but I can't champion that now for reasons others have touched on. I was never a Ferris Bueller fan, but it had a big impact, in style, and inside references you use later in life like Abe Froman. For my money, Home Alone is far and away the best Hughes movie, but I understand wanting to tie him to the subpar high school movies instead.

 

If you're younger, then you need to understand that Molly Ringwald was a big huge deal. She got press coverage at every level, in every kind of publication. As a serious actress with interesting personal history, for leading major movies that did well, for getting movies made, and for trying to expand to more interesting roles that ultimately didn't work for reasons that weren't her fault. And she dated Adam Horovitz! And she was always articulate and came across as smart, even in the puff pieces. I still have a soft spot for her even though I don't have a soft spot for any of her movies.

 

Simple Minds was a solid band. I appreciated how the video for Don't You (Forget About Me) minimized the film footage so you barely noticed it and the song could live outside the movie. And Alive and Kicking is another memorable video for them.

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Why do movies about teenagers have such poorly drawn characters? Breakfast Club uses the easiest stereotypes.

 

Sheedy and Broderick had better teenager roles in War Games.

 

Fast Times at Ridgemont High had characters that more closely resembled the kids at my high school (though Freaks and Geeks came even closer). When I went to my 20th high school reunion, it turned out that the smartass who sold me scalper tickets to concerts had become a career army guy.

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Fast Times at Ridgemont High had characters that more closely resembled the kids at my high school (though Freaks and Geeks came even closer). When I went to my 20th high school reunion, it turned out that the smartass who sold me scalper tickets to concerts had become a career army guy.

 

If this were a "vs." episode I would probably take Fast Times over Breakfast Club.

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In regards to Hughes' mean streak - having just rewatched both Home Alone movies, I'd say the first one is harmless slapstick, but goddamn is the second one brutal. I feel bad for dragging my parents to see that multiple times. It has a gonzo level of violence in it (e.g. the electrocution scene) that makes me wonder if, like Spielberg and Lucas on Temple Of Doom, its creators might have been working through some issues

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