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Movie rewind: John Hughes classics

Courtney Cox | Tuesday, April 12, 2011

John Hughes’s movies do the impossible — they make audiences feel nostalgic for high school, an extremely difficult task. With “The Breakfast Club,” “Pretty in Pink” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” DeBartolo Performing Arts Center’s midnight movie series will bring the best of the 80’s back to Notre Dame.

“The Breakfast Club” is the quintessential tale of teenage angst and follows five high school students who are sentenced to serve a Saturday in detention. Set in the library of their school, the students bond with each other and recognize that they have more in common than they could have imagined.

The movie also depicts the most prevalent high school stereotypes. Versions of the cliques in “The Breakfast Club” still appear in sitcoms and other high school movies today.

The end of the movie aptly defines each individual. In writing a letter to the principal of the school they say, “You see us as you want to see us … In the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess and a criminal.”  

The best part of the movie is that it doesn’t use these stereotypes to set up easy antagonists to a story line, as so many films do today. Instead, the movie starts with the assumed stereotype of each individual and shatters it.  No person in the group can be easily defined by one word.

“Pretty in Pink” explores the effect of money on high school social interactions and gains new insight each time it is retold. In “Pretty in Pink,” Andie, played by Molly Ringwald, does not come from the same kind of money as Blane, her crush.  

The varying amounts of money the two have keep them from being together. In the end, however, love prevails (as it always does) and Blane and Andie share a romantic moment at the most important social event of anyone’s high school career — prom.

It isn’t only about high school pettiness, though. It explores the real difficulties that can occur when families struggle to make ends meet. Andie’s father buys her a pink dress for prom she knows he can’t afford.  It is a painful moment when the two fight over their financial well-being. “Pretty in Pink” is both touching and extremely in-touch with the issues adolescents face, beyond finding the right date to prom.

One simply cannot discuss John Hughes’s films without referencing the immensely popular “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” The movie is an ode to teenage rebellion at its finest.  It follows Bueller as he cleverly manages to skip class and quite literally parade around the city of Chicago. It is above all a film about seizing the opportunity to do things that one can only do while young. As Bueller famously says “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

John Hughes captures the most awkward moments of being a teenager and gives them an artful appreciation that not many others have succeeded at doing.  Catch his greatest hits at DeBartolo Performing Arts Center in the coming weeks.