Sunday, March 14, 2010

37. The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club. Directed by John Hughes. 97 min. DVD Universal. 1985, ASIN: B001AEF6BI.

Plot Summary

Five teenagers at Shermer High have detention for an entire Saturday. These five teenage students come from different social groups and are forced to interact with one another to cope with the silence of detention in their school library. Slowly the jock, the nerd, the rebel, the popular girl, and the weirdo open up to one another and discuss their problems and fears. They learn that despite their cliques, and social status, that they experience the same kinds of pressures and problems that teens face. Parents are a problem, performance in school and athletics is stressful, and being neglected is a commonality between these very different but very normal teenage delinquents. Principal Dick Vernon oversees the detention session and requires each of the students to write a 1,000 word essay on who they are. The students avoid writing the paper until the end of the film when they have to decide if things will be different between them after detention is over.

Critical Evaluation
John Hughes' The Breakfast Club gives viewers a glimpse into the life of an American teenager. His varied cast of characters is representational of the different kinds of students that can be found in high schools everywhere. By juxtaposing these different teenage types in a single setting, he allows for them to discover that despite their differences, their problems and pressures are very similar. The nerd and the popular girl are both ashamed of their virginity, and the jock and the rebel both have issues with their abusive fathers. The realistic portrayal of teens, their issues, and emotions is refreshing and entertaining. Viewers can find a little bit of themselves in each of the characters, and a teenage audience will identify with the feelings and problems represented. Dealing with parents and the pressures of school are issues that are just as relevant today as they were during the film's release.

John Hughes has an uncanny ability to identify and portray teenage life in a very real and genuine way. Each of the character's in The Breakfast Club grows tremendously as they learn from one another. They learn that despite who their friends are, or how they dress, that deep down they are all in the same boat together. Hughes explores themes of insecurity throughout the film, with each of the characters afraid and nervous about the kinds of people that they will become. The style of the film is very basic and is set in very few locations. The character interactions and dialogue drive the film, and set the pace for the plot's progression. The soundtrack is excellent commentary on the action of the film, and works well with the several montage sequences presented. By focusing on dialogue and character interactions, Hughes' makes the teenagers and their ability to learn from another the focal point of this classic piece of teenage cinema.

viewer's Annotation
The jock, the popular girl, the nerd, the outcast, and the tough guy are all forced to spend a Saturday together in detention. This mix of high school personalities is bound to collide as they are forced to write an essay about who they think they are.

Director Information
John Hughes was an American film director, writer, and producer who worked primarily on comedies and films for teens, until his death in 2009. He started his career selling jokes and working for National Lampoon Magazine, until he found success with his second script for the film National Lampoon's Vacation. His directorial debut didn't come until 1984 with the release of the film Sixteen Candles. This film about high school life would inspire other Hughes' films like Weird Science, Ferris Bueler's Day off, and The Breakfast Club. Hughes enjoyed working on films for teens and is known for saying, "I don't think of kids as a lower form of the human species." Hughes' contribution to the film industry was recognized during an Oscar tribute at the 2010 Academy Awards.


drama, comedy

Curriculum Ties

Film Rating
R, 17+

Challenge Issues
profanity, sexuality, drug use

Challenge defense ideas:
1. Make sure you are familiar with your library collection and the book in question.
2. Be familiar with your library collection policy.
3. If possible, speak with the person challenging the material and make sure they feel comfortable. Ask the customer what they disliked or disapproved of in the resource. If they still insist on challenging the material give them instructions on how to file a formal complaint.
4. Research professional reviews that speak to the material's merit, and get input from teen readers on why they found the book important.

Reason For Selection

The films of John Hughes depict teenage life in an honest and sincere way. The Breakfast Club deals with realistic depictions of teenage characters who have very real problems. This is a movie that is just as relevant to teens today as it was during the time of its release.

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