"The Breakfast Club" DVD, Blu-ray Review

8/09/2010 Posted by Admin

"The Breakfast Club" DVD, Blu-ray Review

Directed by John Hughes, Written by Hughes, 93 Minutes, Rated R

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

The late, great John Hughes always struck a perfect balance between comedy and drama in his brief but astounding career, but none of his films, not even his best, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," strikes a chord quite as well as "The Breakfast Club" when it comes to everyday teen and high school life.

Taking place in the fictional Shermer High School of all of Hughes' teen films, "The Breakfast Club" follows five students of very different backgrounds on one day of detention. They are John Bender (Judd Nelson), Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez), Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald), Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy) and Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall), who are the criminal, jock, popular girl, weirdo and nerd of the school, respectively.

They don't hang around in similar circles or even give each other the time of day while school is in session, but when they are stuck in their school's library for eight hours of Saturday detention, conflicts rise, we see revelations about each of them, and slowly we (and they) realize that they really aren't all that different, especially when they share a common enemy in their borderline sociopathic principal, Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason).

The film stands up extraordinarily well compared to some of its other '80s ilk. Unlike a lot of his peers, Hughes always managed to make films more universal than most teen movies, mostly because he didn't really dabble too often in '80s cliches (beyond a song here and there, and the clothing styles, of course).

He also managed a balance of comedy and drama that other filmmakers didn't. "The Breakfast Club" has plenty of very serious moments--Bender's telling of an everyday conversation in his household, Brian and Andy's explanations for why they're in detention--but Hughes always manages to lighten the mood with his trademark absurd moments of comedy, such as where the gang breaks out in dance or when Bender goes head-to-head with Vernon ("Is Barry Manilow aware that you raid his wardrobe?")

Hughes' great script wouldn't have gone too far without the wealth of wonderful performances, though. Each one is a standout and none of these actors have done better. Nelson pretty easily tops the lot of them with one of the most iconic performances of the era. He makes Bender more than just the typical '80s tough guy.

If there's anything bad to be said about the film, though, it's the problem Hughes seemed to struggle with throughout his whole career--he sends a lot of mixed messages. Though the majority of the film has themes of equality, understanding, triumphing over expectations and self-discovery, there also are odd and sort of troubling moments where Hughes seems to be implying that all of these things are inherently impossible and, basically, everyone should just adhere to their social expectations if they want to get by without failure or humiliation.

Perhaps he's simply trying to make points for both sides, but in the climax of the film, where Ringwald's character gives Sheedy's a makeover and she's apparently better for it, it's hard to take anything but a very bleak, conformist attitude from a film that otherwise seemed to be against such ideas. It doesn't necessarily take anything away from the rest of the film, but it's pretty confusing.

Otherwise, Hughes really did something special with this film. If "Ferris Bueller" is the pinnacle of his comedy, this is definitely the pinnacle of his drama, and it's undoubtable that countless generations will continue to find merit in this story.

Grade: A-

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  1. Icedream said...

    Great review. I love John Hughes movies but The Breakfast Club has always been my favorite. I watch it every time it comes on t.v. but it's always watered down- I was wondering if you were going to offer a give away of this on dvd?