a classic teen comedy from the great john hughes.
it’s been a little while since i’ve last seen this one so there were a few things i had forgotten. it’s always interesting to see what elements or scenes from a film i forget after i’ve gone a while without seeing it. in this instance i forgot the very beginning – the quote and the breaking of the opaque, black glass – and the very end – the unlikely romances. it’s interesting because this film has always been about a couple things: us (the powerless/students) vs. them (the power structure/teachers) and the bonds forged between the unlikely groups represented by the five kids.
one can view the film in at least two ways: the kids are just individual kids, with their own problems OR as the letter with which the film begins and ends states, the kids are archetypes – the brain, the outcast, the queen, the jock, etc. i think the film is enjoyable and relevant either way, but the ending is more palatable if viewed in the second way. i found the ending, which finds the jock and the weirdo, and the bully and the queen, hooking up, somewhat disturbing this time around. what is it saying? the brain doesn’t get any action, the queen forgives judd nelson, and the weirdo gets a makeover and subsequently hooks up with the jock. what’s the deal? is it a statement that the jock and judd nelson are reformed? is it a statement that, deep inside, the queen and the weirdo still crave the bad boy and the jock? is hughes trying to make a utopian statement that all kinds can mix? is it that we’re all the same when we open up and drop the front? i certainly see the humanity of all the characters, and understand that they are, at least somewhat, symbolic archetypes. when i first watched it, the breakfast club struck me on this level: maybe the cool kids aren’t as vaunted as i thought. in that sense the film will always be a success, and a must-see. at the same time, hughes interjects the reality of the situation – the kids openly acknowledge the temporary nature of their new found friendships. this might explain the quickness with which the queen and the weirdo accept judd nelson and the jock. is hughes building and destroying this utopia in one fell swoop? maybe it isn’t about utopia, maybe it’s a harsh reality – we ARE all the same underneath, but we’ll never acknowledge it openly.
there are a lot of questions that the film brings up. there are also a lot of truisms and wonderful insights. despite being 20+ years old (wow), the film barely shows it age. some of the language is outdated and judd nelson rearranging the card catalog is funny, but probably wouldn’t even register to kids these day. that said, the film has aged well and is universal in so many ways that it really is a classic.