Why can’t life be a John Hughes movie? Well, there would be drama, interesting haircuts and enough teenage angst to make your head spin. Perhaps his most notable films include The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but you’ll probably also be familiar with Sixteen Candles, Some Kind of Wonderful and Pretty in Pink. If not, go and watch them. Every single one.
John Hughes is arguably one of the most influential directors of his era, if not ever. Set in the 80s and late 90s, his films portray youth as a time of anger, frustration and brilliance which are honest without ever being patronising. These films give you hope that, despite the rough ride, life does get better. It may feel that being a teenager can last forever, but the ‘teen age’ does, eventually, end. After his death in 2009 you have to wonder, do we have a new John Hughes? A voice that speaks to the youth and most importantly a voice that is listened to? What messages are young people getting through cinema today? Modern cinema is dominated by the dystopian genre, such as The Hunger Games trilogy, which are brilliant films, however, they lack the feeling of hope that Hughes leaves with you.
So, why bother watching? Simply, in my opinion, for his two best films: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Breakfast Club which are the pillars of teen film. Ferris Bueller is the teenager we all wish we could be; funny, charismatic and brave, almost to a fault. The film follows Ferris bunking-off school with his girlfriend Sloane and his best friend and hypochondriac Cameron. Narrowly avoiding the tyranny of his high school teacher, they have the day off most kids only dream of. The film is most distinctive for its breaking down of the fourth wall; Ferris talks directly into the camera and gives advice, like the older irresponsible brother you never knew you needed.
Then we have The Breakfast Club. The premise of the film is a group of teenagers stuck in Saturday morning detention. They fight against the teacher who hates students, and win. The film acts to redefine the clichés associated with high school by making the misfits on the outskirts of society the movie’s protagonists. The princess is unmasked and the weak nerd finds a voice. You’re not told the reasons why they’re in detention and you’re dying to know what happens when they leave, but you never do. What John Hughes sums up so well in this movie is that teenage relationships and interactions are often fleeting but nevertheless valuable. The mismatched detainees will remind any teen of their secondary school classes, but through a medium that is far more tolerable than your fellow students were at 16.
These are films for the teenagers who don’t fit in, something just as important to modern-day audiences because nothing has changed since. Teenagers are still lost, teachers are still mean and people still fall in love. With John Hughes you get to watch all that happen, but with a great soundtrack.