The Breakfast Club

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"Breakfast Club" redirects here. For other uses, see The Breakfast Club (disambiguation).
The Breakfast Club
The Breakfast Club.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Hughes
Produced by Ned Tanen
John Hughes
Written by John Hughes
Starring Emilio Estevez
Paul Gleason
Anthony Michael Hall
John Kapelos
Judd Nelson
Molly Ringwald
Ally Sheedy
Music by Keith Forsey
Cinematography Thomas Del Ruth
Edited by Dede Allen
A&M Films
Channel Productions
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • February 15, 1985 (1985-02-15)
Running time
97 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1 million[2]
Box office $51.5 million[3]

The Breakfast Club is a 1985 American coming-of-age comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by John Hughes and starring Emilio Estevez, Paul Gleason, Anthony Michael Hall, John Kapelos, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy. The storyline follows five teenagers, each a member of a different high school clique, who spend a Saturday in detention together and come to realize that they are all more than their respective stereotypes, while facing a villainous principal.

Critics consider it one of the greatest high school films, as well as one of Hughes' most memorable and recognizable works. The media referred to the film's five main actors as members of a group called the "Brat Pack".

The film, digitally remastered, will be screened in 430 theaters on March 26 and 31, 2015 in celebration of its 30th anniversary.[4]


On Saturday, March 24, 1984, five students report at 7:00 a.m. for all-day detention at Shermer High School in Shermer, Illinois, "60062" (actually the Zip Code of Northbrook, Illinois), a suburb of Chicago. While not complete strangers, each of them comes from a different clique, and they seem to have nothing in common: the beautiful and pampered Claire Standish (a "princess"), the state champion wrestler Andrew Clarke (an "athlete"), the bookish Brian Johnson (a "brain"), the reclusive outcast Allison Reynolds (a "basket case") and the rebellious John Bender (a "criminal").

They gather in the high school library, where the assistant principal, Richard Vernon, instructs them not to speak, move from their seats, or sleep for the next eight hours and fifty-four minutes (i.e., until 4 p.m.). He assigns them a 1,000-word essay, in which each must describe "who you think you are". He then leaves, returning only occasionally to check on them. Bender, who has a particularly antagonistic relationship with Vernon, ignores the rules and frequently riles up the other students, teasing Brian and Andrew and harassing Claire. Allison is initially quiet, except for the occasional random outburst.

The students pass the hours by talking, arguing, and, at one point, smoking marijuana that Bender retrieves from his locker. Gradually, they open up to each other and reveal their deepest personal secrets: Allison is a compulsive liar, Andrew can't easily think for himself, John comes from an abusive household, Brian has attempted suicide due to a bad grade, and Claire is a virgin who feels constant pressure from her friends. They also discover that they all have strained relationships with their parents: Allison's parents ignore her due to their own problems; Andrew's father constantly criticizes his efforts at wrestling and pushes him as hard as possible; John's father verbally and physically abuses both John and his mother; Brian's parents put immense pressure on him to get good grades and keep it that way; and Claire's parents use her to get back at each other during frequent arguments. The students realize that despite their differences, they face similar pressures and complications in their lives.

Despite their differences in social status, the group begins to form friendships (and even romantic relationships) as the day progresses. Claire makes it her mission to show Allison just how pretty she really is; Allison's new look sparks the romantic interest of Andrew, who is stunned when Allison's beauty is revealed. Claire decides to break her "pristine" virgin appearance by kissing Bender in the closet and giving him a hickey. Although they suspect that the relationships would end with the end of their detention, their mutual experiences would change the way they would look at their peers afterwards.

As the detention comes to its final moments, the group requests that Brian complete the essay for everyone, and Brian agrees, leaving the essay in the library for Vernon to read after they leave. The students part ways outside the school. Allison and Andrew kiss, as do Claire and John. Allison rips Andrew's state champion patch from his letterman jacket to keep, and Claire gives John one of her diamond earrings, which he attaches to his earlobe. Vernon reads Brian's essay (read by Brian in voiceover), in which Brian states that Vernon has already judged who they are, "in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions: a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal." Brian signs the letter as "The Breakfast Club." As the movie ends, John raises his fist in triumph as he walks across the football field for home.




Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall were both in Hughes' 1984 film Sixteen Candles. Towards the end of filming, Hughes asked them both to be in The Breakfast Club. Hall became the first to be cast, agreeing to the role of Brian Johnson. Ringwald was originally approached to play the character of Allison Reynolds, but she was "really upset" because she wanted to play Claire Standish. She eventually convinced the director and the studio to give her the part.[5] The role of Allison ultimately went to Ally Sheedy.

Emilio Estevez originally auditioned for the role of John Bender. However, when John Hughes was unable to find someone to play Andrew Clarke, Estevez was recast. Nicolas Cage was considered for the role of John Bender, which was the last to be cast, though the role came down to John Cusack and Nelson. Hughes eventually cast Cusack, but decided to replace him with Nelson before shooting began, because Cusack did not look threatening enough for the role. At one point, Hughes got angry at Nelson because he stayed in character by taunting Ringwald off-camera, and the other actors had to convince Hughes not to fire him.[5][6]

Rick Moranis was originally cast as the janitor but left due to creative differences and was replaced by John Kapelos.[7]


In 1999, Hughes said that his request to direct the film met resistance and skepticism because he lacked filmmaking experience.[8] Hughes won the investors over with his argument that due to the film's low budget of $1 million and its single-location shoot, the risks involved were minimal.

Hughes originally thought that The Breakfast Club would be his directorial debut. Because of his own inexperience, he set the film in one room and wrote it about high school students, who would be played by younger actors.[9]

Principal photography began on March 28, 1984, and ended in May of that year. Filming took place at Maine North High School in Des Plaines, Illinois, which had closed in 1981. (The building was later used for some of the scenes in Hughes's Ferris Bueller's Day Off, released one year after The Breakfast Club.)

The library at Maine North High School was considered too small for the film, so the crew built the set in the school's gymnasium.[10] The actors rehearsed with each other for three weeks and then shot the film in sequence.[11] Some of the posters on the walls during filming of The Breakfast Club were still there when Ferris Bueller was filmed. On the Ferris Bueller's Day Off DVD commentary (featured on the 2004 DVD version), John Hughes revealed that he shot the two films back-to-back to save time and money, and some outtakes of both films feature elements of the film crews working on the other film.

The first print was 150 minutes long.[12] During a cast reunion in honor of the film's 25th anniversary, Ally Sheedy revealed that it was Hughes' director's cut, but Hughes' widow did not disclose any details concerning its whereabouts.[6]


The main theme of the film is the constant struggle of the American teenager to be understood, by adults and by themselves. It explores the pressure put on teenagers to fit into their own realms of high school social constructs, as well as the lofty expectations of their parents, teachers, and other authority figures. On the surface, the students have little in common with each other. However, as the day rolls on, they eventually bond over a common disdain for the aforementioned issues of peer pressure and parental expectations.[13][14] The main adult character, Mr. Vernon, is not portrayed in a positive light. He consistently talks down to the students and flaunts his authority throughout the film. Bender is the only one who stands up to Vernon.[13]

Stereotyping is another theme. Once the obvious stereotypes are broken down, the characters "empathize with each other's struggles, dismiss some of the inaccuracies of their first impressions, and discover that they are more similar than different."[15]

Opening and closing[edit]

Opening quote[edit]

The film opens with a short quote from the second verse of the 1971 David Bowie song, "Changes":

"...and these children that you spit on, as they try to change their worlds are immune to your consultations. They're quite aware of what they're going through..."

Opening voice-over[edit]

The voice-over in the opening is performed by Anthony Michael Hall and differs from the version that is delivered at the film's closing:

"Saturday, March 24, 1984. Shermer High School, Shermer, Illinois, 60062. Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was that we did wrong, what we did was wrong. But we think you're crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are, what do you care? You see us as you want to see us, in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Correct? That's the way we saw each other at seven o'clock this morning. We were brainwashed."

Closing voice-over[edit]

The voice-over in the closing is performed by Hall as well, with Estevez, Sheedy, Ringwald, and Nelson also speaking in character in reference to their "type":

"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 us write 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, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club."


The film's poster, featuring the five characters huddled together, was photographed by Annie Leibovitz toward the end of shooting. The shot of five actors gazing at the camera influenced the way teen films were marketed from that point on.[16] The poster refers to the five "types" of the story using slightly different terms than those used in the film, and in a different sequence, stating "They were five total strangers with nothing in common, meeting for the first time. A brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel and a recluse."


Critical reception[edit]

The film received high critical acclaim, and holds a 88% "Certified Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 48 reviews, with an average score of 7.4/10. The critical consensus is "The Breakfast Club is a warm, insightful, and very funny look into the inner lives of teenagers".[17] Review aggregator Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 62% based on 11 reviews from mainstream critics, considered to be "generally favorable reviews".[18]

Box office[edit]

In February 1985, the film debuted at #3 at the box office (behind blockbuster film Beverly Hills Cop and Witness starring Harrison Ford).[19] Grossing $45,875,171 domestically and $51,525,171 worldwide, the film is a box office success, given its alleged $1 million budget.[20]

American Film Institute lists[edit]


The Breakfast Club is known as the "quintessential 1980s film" and is considered as one of the best films of 1985.[24] In 2008, it was ranked #369 by Empire magazine of their The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time list.[25] Similarly, The New York Times placed the film on its Best 1000 Movies Ever list.[26] The film was ranked number 1 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 50 Best High School Movies.[27]

In 2005, the film received the Silver Bucket of Excellence Award in honor of its 20th anniversary at the MTV Movie Awards. For the event, MTV attempted to reunite the original cast. Sheedy, Ringwald, and Hall appeared together on stage, with Kapelos in the audience; Gleason gave the award to his former castmates. Estevez could not attend because of other commitments, and Nelson appeared earlier in the show but left before the on-stage reunion, prompting Hall to joke that the two were "in Africa with Dave Chappelle." Scottish Rock band Simple Minds performed the film's anthem, "Don't You (Forget About Me)."

At the 82nd Academy Awards, Sheedy, Hall, Ringwald, and Nelson all appeared in a tribute to John Hughes - who had died a few months prior - along with other actors who had worked with him, including Jon Cryer from Pretty in Pink, Matthew Broderick from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and Macaulay Culkin from Home Alone.

In the 2001 parody film Not Another Teen Movie, Gleason reprised his role as Assistant Principal Vernon in a short scene that parodies The Breakfast Club.[28]

On March 7, 2000, the music group A-Teens released their single for Dancing Queen (from their debut album The ABBA Generation) by also launching a music video for it. The video itself is a tribute to the movie, with Gleason again reprising his role as Vernon. It features the band and many extras serving as the band's background dancers, as students serving detention in the library, much like the original movie itself. Vernon tells the students that he trusts that they are "looking forward to spending the next four hours—that's 240 long minutes, count 'em—reflecting on your wasted lives." Before leaving, he then warns them not to even think about leaving the room, getting up from their desks, or talking to each other. As soon as he leaves, Marie, the band's oldest member, opens up her backpack, takes out her CD player with headphones, opens it up and inserts the single CD before closing it, takes the player and headphones up to the intercom, turns up the volume on the intercom and attaches the headphones to the microphone; thus turning the library into a '70s discotheque and starting the song. Part of the video also takes place on the dining area outside the school building. Towards the end of the video, the scene returns to normal as Vernon returns. He then slams a book on the desk of Amit, the band's second-oldest member, signaling the end of detention. As everyone leaves, the camera can be seen panning over to the intercom and microphone with Marie's CD player and headphones, which he obliviously sees.

Jason Moore’s 2012 feature film Pitch Perfect is about a number of the freshmen from (fictional) Barden University who choose to join collegiate a cappella groups on campus. Key elements of the film are references to a number of classic films, The Breakfast Club amongst them. Jesse tries to woo the protagonist Beca under the pretext of educating her in "the best scored and sound-tracked" films of all time, that being The Breakfast Club. Simple Minds’ “Don't You (Forget About Me)”, The Breakfast Club’s anthem, is the song that Beca uses to apologise to Jesse at the end of the film, by weaving it into the Barden Bellas’ performance at the ICCAs (International Championship of Collegiate A-Cappella).

"Detention", an episode of the The WB series Dawson's Creek, was entire episode is based on this film.

"The Breakfast Bunch", an episode of the Nickelodeon series Victorious, was a parody of this film.

The TV Show Glee has referenced the show on multiple occasions, performing the banister dance during one of their performances as well as Sam, Blaine and Tina covering “Don't You (Forget About Me)” while locked in the school overnight.

Home media[edit]

In 2003, the film was released on DVD as part of the "High School Reunion Collection".[29] In 2008, a "Flashback Edition" DVD was released with several special features, including an audio commentary with Anthony Michael Hall and Judd Nelson.[30]

A 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray was released in 2010,[31] and the same disc was re-released with a DVD and digital copy in 2012 as part of Universal's 100th Anniversary series.[32][33] On March 10, 2015, the 30th Anniversary Edition was released. This release was digitally remastered and restored from the original 35mm film negatives for better picture quality on DVD, Digital HD and Blu-ray.[34]


The Breakfast Club (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by various artists
Released February 19, 1985
Recorded 1984
Genre Rock, new wave
Length 38:02
Label A&M
Producer Keith Forsey
Singles from The Breakfast Club
  1. "Don't You (Forget About Me)"
    Released: February 20, 1985 (US), April 8, 1985 (UK)
Music sample

The Breakfast Club soundtrack album was released in 1985. The album peaked at #17 on the US Billboard 200 album chart. "Don't You (Forget About Me)" reached #1 on the US Hot 100.

  1. "Don't You (Forget About Me)" – Simple Minds
  2. "Waiting" – E.G. Daily
  3. "Fire in the Twilight" – Wang Chung
  4. "I'm the Dude" (instrumental) – Keith Forsey
  5. "Heart Too Hot to Hold" – Jesse Johnson and Stephanie Spruill
  6. "Dream Montage" (instrumental) – Gary Chang
  7. "We Are Not Alone" – Karla DeVito
  8. "Reggae" (instrumental) – Keith Forsey
  9. "Didn't I Tell You?" – Joyce Kennedy
  10. "Love Theme" (instrumental) – Keith Forsey

Critical reception[edit]

In a contemporary review for The Village Voice, music critic Robert Christgau gave the album a "D-" and said that it has "utterly negligible" songs and "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds, whom he commended for trying to distance themselves from the song.[35] In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave it three out of five stars and wrote that, apart from Simple Minds' "undisputed masterpiece", the album is largely "disposable" and marred by "'80s artifacts" and "forgettable instrumentals."[36]


  1. ^ "THE BREAKFAST CLUB | British Board of Film Classification". Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  2. ^ "The 80's: 'The Breakfast Club'". Retrieved September 29, 2014. 
  3. ^ Gross data for the film The Breakfast Club from movie data base site Box Office Mojo
  4. ^ ‘Breakfast Club’ Returns to Theaters for 30th Anniversary. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  5. ^ a b Itzkoff, Dave (September 17, 2010). "She Won't Forget About Him: Molly Ringwald Remembers John Hughes". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-09-04. 
  6. ^ a b Steinberg, Julie (September 21, 2010). "‘The Breakfast Club’ Cast Reunites, But Where’s Emilio? ‘Working on ‘Mighty Ducks 5". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  7. ^ Gora, Susannah (2010). You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried. Three Rivers Press. pp. 56–57.
  8. ^ October 1999 issue of Premiere Magazine
  9. ^ Gora, Susannah (2010). You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried. Three Rivers Press. p. 47.
  10. ^ Gora, Susannah (2010). You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried. Three Rivers Press. p. 58.
  11. ^ Gora, Susannah (2010). You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried. Three Rivers Press. pp. 59, 69.
  12. ^ Dameron, Emerson (August 11, 2009). "John Hughes: The Director’s Cut". Newcity Film. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  13. ^ a b Loukides, Paul (1996). Beyond the Stars 5: Themes and Ideologies in American Popular Film. Popular Press. pp. 30-32.
  14. ^ Barsanti, Chris (2010). Filmology: A Movie-a-Day Guide to the Movies You Need to Know. Adams Media. p. 49.
  15. ^ "The Breakfast Club". Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  16. ^ Gora, Susannah (2010). You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried. Three Rivers Press. pp. 79-80, 325-326.
  17. ^ "The Breakfast Club Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 16, 2013. 
  18. ^ "The Breakfast Club, Movie Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved July 14, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Weekend Box Office: February 15-18, 1985—4-day President's Day Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-09-03. 
  20. ^ The Breakfast Club at Box Office Mojo
  21. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs". American Film Institute. Retrieved October 12, 2012. 
  22. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers Nominees
  23. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) Ballot
  24. ^ Dunkleberger, Amy (2007). So You Want to Be a Film Or TV Screenwriter?. Enslow Publishers, Inc. p. 73.
  25. ^ "Empire's The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time". Empire. Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  26. ^ "The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made". The New York Times. April 29, 2003. Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  27. ^ "Entertainment Weekly's The 50 Best High School Movies". AMC Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  28. ^ Scott, A. O. (December 14, 2001). "FILM REVIEW; Pretty in Prank: A Spoof of a Lampoon of a Satire of...". The New York Times. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  29. ^ "The Breakfast Club (High School Reunion Collection): Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, John Kapelos, Paul Gleason, John Hughes, Ned Tanen: Movies & TV". Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  30. ^ "The Breakfast Club (Flashback Edition): Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Paul Gleason, Mercedes Hall, John Kapelos, Ron Dean, Perry Crawford, Fran Gargano, John Hughes, Tim Gamble, Jackie Burch, Thomas del Ruth: Movies & TV". Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  31. ^ "The Breakfast Club (25th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]: Emilio Estevez, Paul Gleason, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, John Hughes: Movies & TV". Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  32. ^ "The Breakfast Club (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) : Universal's 100th Anniversary". Retrieved March 26, 2013. 
  33. ^ "Celebrating 100 years of iconic movie moments". Universal 100th. Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  34. ^ "The Breakfast Club 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray". Retrieved December 30, 2014. 
  35. ^ Christgau, Robert (June 25, 1985). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved July 3, 2013. 
  36. ^ Thomas Erlewine, Stephen. "Review: The Breakfast Club – Original Soundtrack". Allmusic. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 

External links[edit]