One of the most famous films of the eighties from writer/director John Hughes, ‘The Breakfast Club’ is so named for the five central characters (played by Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall) who are all called into high school detention on a Saturday, for the entire day, and all for a variety of reasons which are revealed as the story progresses. Each character represents a stereotype – respectively; the Jock, the aggressive outsider, the emo/’alternative’ chick, the beauty and the studious nerd. Each proceeds to both antagonise the others and also demonstrate values and thoughts identifying them with their stereotypes, before bonds are formed, barriers broken, and the suggestion that they have more in common than they would otherwise have believed is made. Largely, this is courtesy of the teacher assigned to watch over them from his nearby office (played by Paul Gleason, who may be equally familiar as the hopeless police sergeant in another eighties’ powerhouse, ‘Die Hard’ 88) who operates as the cement that will unite them all together.
Although the cast are good and have a combined strong screen presence, one can’t help but feel a certain conceited smugness to the whole thing – as if everyone in American high schools must somehow conform to one of these primordial divisions. And whilst the film tries for the most part to break down the preconceptions and animosities, arising from insecurity, that each of them have, it ultimately ends with a very, very traditional pairing-off of certain characters whilst the geek is hoodwinked into writing everyone else’s report, and this is sold to us as a victory for everyone in the group, as if he gets the same level of satisfaction from writing extra essays as the others do from sexual gratification. It’s borderline bullying from the others, and the effective subjugation of the fifth person – something which nowadays would probably be reversed, since the concept of the geek scoring with the hot girl is very much in vogue.
Also famous for immortalising Scottish band Simple Mind’s classic ‘Forget About Me’, which you can listen to below: