Release Date: Feb. 15, 1985
Directed by: John Hughes
Starring: Emilio Estevez, Paul Gleason, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy
Budget: $1 million
Box Office: $51.5 million
Five teenagers find themselves in Saturday detention, instructed by their assistant principal not to do anything except write an essay. However, one ignores the rules and riles up the other students
Considered an 80s classic and one of the greatest high school films ever made, The Breakfast Club is certainly an enjoyable and memorable film.
At the beginning, all five students are stereotyped and put into neat identifications. Andy is the confident jock, Brian is the studious nerd, Bender is the ruffian who couldn’t care less about anything, Claire is the rich, popular girl, and Allison is the weird loner. They all begin with nothing in common other than being in detention together.
As the film rolls on though, mostly because of Bender harassing everyone and not caring about anything, they find they’re not all different as they think they are. None of them really have good lives at home with their parents, all of them for varying reasons and each one of them reveals their insecurities. It all humanizes them, demonstrating how behavior and who people spend their time with can sometimes be just a front for someone completely different wishing they could be someone else.
As for the adults in the film, none of them are particularly effective. Early in the film, Vernon is presented as someone who feels his role of supervising the students in detention to be more of an imposition on him than anything. Later, it's explained the sole reason he became an educator was because he wanted what he thought was an easy job, only to hate the work and resent the kids. Their parents aren't any better either. All of them abuse their respective kids either emotionally, physically or mentally. Bender's dad beats him and his mother, Brian's have incredibly high standards he's become fed up with, Allison's ignore her, Claire's use her as a middleman and Andy's father puts it in his mind the idea of winning being the only thing making him worth anything. It seems the only adult who doesn't act negatively towards the kids is the janitor who just wants to do his job. In contrast to the other adults, he actually somewhat likes the kids, or at least tolerates them.
When Vernon reads the essay they ended up having Brian write, it shows they understand he only really sees them in the way he wants to see them. He doesn’t care about them on anything other than a shallow level and so to him, they’re just the stereotypes present at the beginning of the film.
Yet, it can also be argued the film did not go far enough. In its attempt to break the kids out of their stereotypes, give them depth and make them more human, it just stereotyped them differently. Instead of being just a "brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal,” they’re insecure high school students with bad home lives, two of whom pair up to become couples. They’re all insecure. They all have bad home lives and only one doesn't end up with another character. In spite of the film still being good, presenting audiences with the idea of people not simply being defined by their characteristics, it went full circle and gave them all new characteristics, putting them in other stereotypical holes.
The film also ends vaguely. They could continue to remain friends or find themselves back at square one, still acting as the people they were at the beginning of the movie and staying with their cliques. There’s a discussion near the end able to make it so the viewer could interpret the conclusion both ways. Nevertheless, the inclusion of Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me.)” suggests they won’t remain friends, but will always remember how they grew close one Saturday in detention.
MTV Movie + TV Awards
- Silver Bucket of Excellence Award
National Film Preservation Board, USA
- National Film Registry