Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Breakfast Club (1985): No Breakfast, Just Talking (Club)

The Breakfast Club
The Breakfast Club offers no action, no fantasy, no special visual effects or anything like that. The Breakfast Club offers just talking and that's all. Well, there's a bit of sleeping among all of the talking but nothing really outstanding in this sleep. It's one of those movies that gathers several persons in one room and let them talk.

Five high school students spend a Saturday detention together and in the process they turn into "The Breakfast Club". They do not have much in common or at least, that's what they think. But during the day the teenagers discover a lot to talk about and the detention becomes less and less boring. They are labelled the Athlete, the Princess, the Criminal, the Brain and the Basketcase and they fit quite well in this variety of descriptions. But even such variegated group of people share similar problems and all of the students experience fear, pressure, love, failure, disappointment, etc.

Fairly speaking, the cast of The Breakfast Club accomplishes a great job cause it's not easy to entertain your audience for an hour and a half with nothing more than talking. Judd Nelson in the role of "the Criminal" John Bender does a big part of the talking and he is very charming as he demonstrates there is a lot of brain and insight behind the mask of the bad guy. Emilio Estevez is quite convincing as Andrew Clark, "the Athlete". He certainly looks and acts like a sportsman who is not sure whether he is doing the right thing. Anthony Michael Hall plays "the Brain" Brian Johnson who seems to enjoy the fact he's in detention with the others. Molly Ringwald is "the Princess" Claire Standish, a common high school character. And Ally Sheedy has the tough part of Allison Reynolds, "the Basketcase". Sheedy makes a notable performance here. She is really weird and very credible in her acting. Finally, Paul Gleason as the vice-principal of the school Richard Vernon is the least convincing in the movie but this is hardly his fault. It's just his role being too cartoonish and unbelievable.

The Breakfast Club offers a lot of fun but simultaneously it touches serious topics: students relationship with their parents; how different stereotypes in school treat each other; various ways to deal with alienation and hostile reality. The movie sports some interesting thoughts and a bunch of memorable quotes. It has become a major influence on teen films since the 1980s and many later works reference it.

There is a couple of issues though that prevents the movie from being superb. The first already mentioned problem is that the character of the teacher is not very feasible and his behavior lacks motivation. The reason that sends Allison in detention is not very well motivated either although it's a curious one. The other more serious flaw is rooted in the final part of the movie for which the filmmakers have chosen too Hollywoodish approach. Instead of adding something positive to the whole picture, this practically ruins much of the good impression the film has made until that point.

Despite the issues, The Breakfast Club is one of the more solid efforts coming from director John Hughes. He has done well with the task to entertain under limited conditions. If you are not a die-hard action genre fan and you have some passion for teenager movies, you'll probably like this film even if you won't love it.


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