B is for The Breakfast Club

Day 2 of the A to Z Challenge and we’re (obviously) on B.

B is for The Breakfast Club.

It gets a very creditable 7.9 stars on IMDb and, at 97 minutes, almost the perfect length for a movie.

This is one of those films that I never tire of watching. I’m a huge fan of John Hughes’ movies anyway (keep an eye out for Ferris Bueller later!). He had a real ear for dialogue and helped inspire the ‘Brat Pack’ movement in the eighties. Hugely influential.

Five students meet in detention one saturday morning and over the course of the day, learn more about each other and themselves.

It is now 7:06. You have exactly 8 hours and 54 minutes to think about why you are here – to ponder the error of your ways. You will not talk… you will not move… from these seats.
~ Mr Vernon

I remember being horrified and fascinated that these kids were in detention at 7am on a Saturday morning. Saturday! 7am! Two things which, at that time in the mid-eighties, were largely unknown to me.

But at school they were. A brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. The Breakfast Club. Each a stereotype of a clique in the school. Each in detention for a different reason.

It’s one of those eminently quotable films – find a fellow fan and you’ll inevitably start riffing on the dialogue. We’ve all got our favourites, but Judd Nelson’s John Bender gets the lion’s share of the best lines. From his “Eat… my… shorts”, the deadpan “Impossible, sir. It’s in Johnson’s underwear.” to his curtailed joke about the naked blonde who walks into a bar with a poodle under one arm, and a two-foot salami under the other…

By the way, if you know the punchline to that joke, I’d love to hear it. I’ve spent nearly 30 years wondering what it is.

Damn. The Breakfast Club will be thirty years old next year. Man, I feel old.

Speaking of old, most of the cast were much older than the characters they played. Judd Nelson was the oldest of the ‘kids’, at 26. Ally Sheedy and Emilio Estevez 23, and Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall at 17 were closest to being high school students.

Did you know that Bender’s character was nearly played by Nicolas Cage (too expensive) and John Cusack, before Judd Nelson was cast?

I’m sure I’m not alone in having a *huge* crush on Ally Sheedy in this movie, and much preferred her before Claire (Molly Ringwald) got to work on ‘all that black shit under your eyes.’

Over the course of the day the students are asked to each complete a thousand word essay on who they think they are. They spend the day talking instead, and find out they have a lot more in common than they originally thought. They ask Brian (the brain) to write the essay for them  – instead we get the classic letter to the assistant principal.

Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us – in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…
Andrew: …and an athlete…
Allison: …and a basket case…
Claire: …a princess…
Bender: …and a criminal…
Brian: Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.

Utterly wonderful.

That’s my ‘B’ movie. Tune in tomorrow for C!

previously, on The A-Z Challenge
A is for Alien