Welcome to a new feature in which I finally get round to watching a film that I really should have seen by now, in this case The Breakfast Club – John Hughes’ coming-of-age classic from 1985.
Five students, each a different high school stereotype, are stuck in a Saturday detention where they learn that they’re not really so different after all. Set almost entirely in the school’s library, The Breakfast Club is a great piece of writing by Hughes; with its enclosed setting and character-driven dialogue it could easily be a play. It’s both funny and heartfelt, with the cast bringing just the right level of energy. Then there’s the iconic new wave soundtrack, which plays a key role in the brilliant Futurama episode “The Luck of the Fryish.” Though the TV show most obviously influenced by The Breakfast Club is of course Community, before it got crap.
Sadly, the film is drastically let down by its closing moments. Without spoiling the ending (because spoiling is never ok, even for films 30 years old), the movie has two troublesome implications. Firstly, there’s the idea that one must be conventionally attractive in order to fit in or be happy. Secondly, the notion that you can treat women like shit and they’ll throw themselves at you. It’s such a shame that the film’s admirable central thesis about the problems with stereotyping is let down by such problematic conclusions. For a 1980’s coming-of-age film about high school hierarchies with more praiseworthy sexual politics – and more teen suicide – watch Heathers.