When the Breakfast Club first came out, I was a teenager myself. I was just a year or two out of high school. I don’t even remember where I was or what I was doing. I probably was commuting to Santa Barbara, attending the city college up there, and had some involvement with a theater group. I remember this because I was given an assistant director position and quickly began dating the lead actor. The play had something to do with Henry David Thoreau. This is neither here nor there except that I vividly remember no being pretty enough to be cast as either of the two lead. One of the actresses who was pretty enough, told me she’d been trained at the Los Angeles Theater Academy. Not too long after my relationship with that actor ended (how could it go? I was 19, he was 31), I fled to Los Angeles to attend the Theater Academy. Much fun, that. But that is a story for another day.
I remember The Breakfast Club not being a very cool film to like. If you hung out with my crowd, John Hughes was lame and the Brat Pack were a group of entitled, talentless hacks. The worst of the bunch, to us, was Ally Sheedy. For some reason, she was the object of our scorn. We didn’t like the character she played in the film, none of it rang true at all. The only slight uptick from the film for us was Judd Nelson, the object of our young girl fantasies.
Cut to: I’m sitting there watching it with my 12 year-old daughter and all I can say is, “don’t ever fall for a guy like that.” I’m speaking of the character Judd Nelson plays – the tough dude John Bender. I know that, even as I try my hardest to tell her what a loser he is and how he’s going nowhere, and how abusive he would be, and how weird it is that Molly Ringwald throws herself at him – I knew that my words rang false. Girls will always fall for Judd Nelson in that film. Why? Because he’s sexy and there ain’t no damn thing we can do about that.
But don’t tell my daughter I said that. Keep her believing my prophetic words that resisting that temptation is a life decision for the better.
I didn’t know if she would like The Breakfast Club or not. And I’d forgotten about the pot scene. “What’s getting stoned like?” Yeah, uh, how about them Lakers?
The Breakfast Club isn’t what I’d remembered. It is a surprisingly moving, very truthful, well written, well acted teen masterpiece. My daughter said “I loved that movie.” And now she wants to see it again. And probably again and again.
Here’s the weird part, though: her favorite character was Ally Sheedy! She liked her the most in every way – her hair, her makeup, her manner, her weirdness.
Every one of those performances is pitch perfect. I decided I wouldn’t tell her about the shocking physical change of Anthony Michael Hall.
So, here’s to YOU John Hughes, may you rest in peace knowing that you really did have an opus in The Breakfast Club. And not only did it speak for my generation (even if we didn’t know it), you also speak for generations to follow.
And here’s to YOU Ally Sheedy and Molly Ringwald and Emelio Estevez.
And here’s to YOU Judd Nelson, you hot thing, you.