The Breakfast Club written and directed by John Hughes. Film 4.

the breakfast club

It’s been thirty years since I watched The Breakfast Club. I truanted from real life and took a step back into Shermar High school where it’s always Saturday detention in 1984. The Simple Minds hold play with a number one both sides of the Atlantic, Don’t You Forget About Me?  The only thing I could remember about the original was Molly Ringwald and one of the other detainees admitted they didn’t need to be in detention but they’d nowhere else to go. That was Ally Sheedy.

There’s no point in telling you the characters’ names or who they portray. It’s more like archetypes. Molly Ringwald is the beauty, with luscious lips like pumped up pears and more teeth than a shark. And she’s a ginger, but she is young, perhaps the youngest of the Bratpack. (For example, Demi Moore another member of the Bratpack, but she is not in this film, is more of a conventional beauty and a lot prettier.) But back then I’d hair. Everybody had hair. They probably had to have an extra hairdresser for every young budding star. Ally Sheedy is the bag lady, to Molly Ringwald’s queen bee, of those serving time in school detention. Ally’s hair is mushy and brushed down over her face. Molly’s hair is shiny as copper coins. They’re as far apart as Alaska to Easter Island. But after they do a bit of bonding the brains of the bunch, Anthony Michael Hall, asks if we’ll still be buddies on Monday, when school goes back. Molly strikes him down, puts him right. Of course they won’t. How could they be? But then we get the classic cliché of transformations and school maggot turning into a butterfly. Usually, the girl is transformed by taking off her specs and putting her hair up. Ally doesn’t wear specs, because the conventional film formula is only geeks like Anthony wear them. But Molly shows her how to be a woman. She does Ally’s hair, puts a little blusher on and does her eyes. Voila, the unveiling.

She doesn’t look that much different to me, but eyestrain and specs have taken the slack in life. The guys on set are keyed to say, whoa, we never knew she was so hot. Sporty, Emilio Estevez, gets her in a strangle hold and kisses her so passionately her hair straightens. Who can blame him? She’d got nice hair and that hairband does wonders for a bag lady.

The big and bad true romance is between beauty and the beast. Judd Nelson has the longest hair. He’s a rebel with a criminal past. In his locker he’s got dope. Just don’t look at the finger glove he wears.  After one squiff, one sniff of dope, and the music is on full blast, Sporty does a few star-jumps to show how athletic he is, Brains dons a pair of sunglasses and shakes his head like Stevie Wonder and Ally beetles about making strange squeaking noise. I didn’t think the music then was that great either. I can’t remember what the criminal mastermind does. I guess the camera spent much of the time on the beauty bopping about like a person with only one hip that kept knocking her sideways. You know the criminal and the beauty are going to hit off each other and fall into a conventional relationship. He’s shown her his flick-knife and he’s seen her knickers (white and clean, or so it seemed, I looked discretely away, of course). For god’s sake she even said ‘I hate you!’ It couldn’t be more obvious if she’d a big love heart tattooed to her forehead.

Start with I hate you and work your way to I love you, but Mr and Mrs I didn’t really understand the real you. The connecting thread is Phil Larkin, This be Verse. ‘They fuck you up, your mum and dad./They may not mean to, but they do./ They fill you with the faults they had. And add some extra, just for you’. All of the detainees in their own way admit this truth to one another. They are more the same than different. Judd the criminal brains does a cameo of the academic brain’s sparkling home life, with his dad and mum asking him if he wants to go fishing and compares it with his own. Brains big secret is he’d a gun in his locker. Nothing much in America really changes. Every kid seems to have a gun in his locker. It’s an American right. I enjoyed this. But I won’t be looking back again – not for another thirty years. By that time I’ll be so old I’ll forget what I’m not looking at. Oh yeh, Molly Ringwald.

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