The Breakfast Club

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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 Judd Nelson
Emilio Estevez
Anthony Michael Hall
Molly Ringwald
Ally Sheedy
Paul Gleason
Music by Keith Foresee
Cinematography Thomas Del Ruth
Editing by Dede Allen
Studio 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
Box office $51,525,171[2]

The Breakfast Club is a 1985 American coming of age comedy-drama film written and directed by John Hughes and starring Judd Nelson, Paul Gleason, Anthony Michael Hall, John Kapelos, Emilio Estevez, 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".

Plot[edit]

On March 24, 1984, five students — "criminal" John Bender, "athlete" Andrew Clark, "brain" Brian Johnson, "basket case" Allison Reynolds, and "princess" Claire Standish — report for Saturday morning detention at Shermer High School in the Chicago suburb of Shermer, Illinois. While not complete strangers, each of them comes from a different clique, and they seem to have nothing in common. They gather in the high school library where they are instructed by the assistant principal, Richard Vernon, not to speak, move from their seats, or sleep for a period of eight hours, fifty-four minutes (from 7:06 AM to 4 PM). He assigns a 1,000-word essay to the students in which each must write about who he or she thinks he or she is. 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 arguing and 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 hates his overbearing father, John comes from an abusive household, Brian has contemplated suicide due to a bad grade, and Claire is a virgin. They discover that they all have strained relationships with their parents and fear making the same mistakes as the adults around them. However, despite these developing friendships, the students are afraid that once the detention is over, they will return to their very different cliques and never speak to each other again.

Towards the end of the day, the other students ask Brian to write the essay that Vernon assigned earlier. Brian does so, but instead of writing about the assigned topic, he writes a letter objecting to Vernon's request to describe who they are, stating that the man has already judged who they are (an athlete, basket case, princess, brain, and criminal), and that he will not accept any different accounts from them. Brian signs the essay as "The Breakfast Club" and leaves it at the table for Vernon to read after they leave. Before the students part ways outside the school, Allison and Andrew kiss, as do Claire and John. The movie ends with John raising his fist up in triumph as he leaves for home.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Casting[edit]

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. Ringwald was originally approached to play the character of Allison Reynolds, but she was "really upset" because she wanted to play Claire. She eventually convinced the director and the studio to give her the part.[3]

Emilio Estevez originally auditioned for the role of John Bender. However, when John Hughes was unable to find someone to play Andrew Clark, 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 didn't 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.[3][4]

Rick Moranis was originally cast as the janitor but left due to creative differences and was replaced by John Kapelos.[5]

Filming[edit]

In 1999, Hughes said that his request to direct the film met resistance and skepticism because he lacked filmmaking experience.[6] 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.[7]

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.) At the end of the film, John Bender walks through Glenbrook North High School's football field, which is also where some of the outside shots of Ferris Bueller were filmed.

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.[8] The actors rehearsed with each other for three weeks and then shot the film in sequence.[9] 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.[10] 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.[4]

The film's poster, featuring the five characters huddled together, was photographed by Annie Leibovitz towards the end of shooting. The shot of five actors glaring at the camera influenced the way teen films were marketed from that point on.[11]

Themes[edit]

The main theme of the film is teenage rebellion against authority figures. On the surface, the students have little in common with each other; however, they eventually bond over a common disdain for their parents.[12][13] 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.[12]

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."[14]

Release[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

The film holds a 91% "Certified Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 44 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".[15] 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".[16]

Box office[edit]

In February 1985, the film debuted at #3 at the box office (behind Beverly Hills Cop and Witness).[17] Grossing $45,875,171 domestically and $51,525,171 worldwide,[18] the film is a box office success, given its alleged $1 million budget.

Legacy[edit]

The Breakfast Club is known as the "quintessential 1980s film".[19] In 2008, it was ranked #369 by Empire magazine of their The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time list.[20] Similarly, The New York Times placed the film on its Best 1000 Movies Ever list.[21] The film was ranked number 1 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 50 Best High School Movies.[22]

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." Pop-punk band Yellowcard 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, along with other actors who had worked with Hughes, 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.[23]

On March 7, 2000, the 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, takes out her CD player with headphones, inserts the single CD, 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.

Home media[edit]

In 2003, the film was released on DVD as part of the "High School Reunion Collection".[24] In 2008, a "Flashback Edition" DVD was released with several special features, including an audio commentary with Anthony Michael Hall and Judd Nelson.[25]

A 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray was released in 2010,[26] and the same disc was re-released with a DVD and digital copy in 2012 as part of Universal's 100th Anniversary series.[27][28]

Soundtrack[edit]

Untitled
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.[29] 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, 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.[30] 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."[31]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.bbfc.co.uk/releases/breakfast-club-1970-4
  2. ^ Gross data for the film The Breakfast Club from movie data base site Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ a b Dave Itzkoff (September 17, 2010). "She Won’t Forget About Him: Molly Ringwald Remembers John Hughes". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-09-04. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ Gora, Susannah (2010). You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried. Three Rivers Press. pp. 56-57.
  6. ^ October 1999 issue of Premiere Magazine
  7. ^ Gora, Susannah (2010). You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried. Three Rivers Press. p. 47.
  8. ^ Gora, Susannah (2010). You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried. Three Rivers Press. p. 58.
  9. ^ Gora, Susannah (2010). You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried. Three Rivers Press. pp. 59, 69.
  10. ^ Dameron, Emerson (August 11, 2009). "John Hughes: The Director’s Cut". Newcity Film. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  11. ^ Gora, Susannah (2010). You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried. Three Rivers Press. pp. 79-80, 325-326.
  12. ^ a b Loukides, Paul (1996). Beyond the Stars 5: Themes and Ideologies in American Popular Film. Popular Press. pp. 30-32.
  13. ^ Barsanti, Chris (2010). Filmology: A Movie-a-Day Guide to the Movies You Need to Know. Adams Media. p. 49.
  14. ^ "The Breakfast Club". Oup.com. Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  15. ^ "The Breakfast Club Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 16, 2013. 
  16. ^ "The Breakfast Club, Movie Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved July 14, 2010. 
  17. ^ "Weekend Box Office: February 15-18, 1985—4-day President's Day Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-09-03. 
  18. ^ "The Breakfast Club (1985)". boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
  19. ^ Dunkleberger, Amy (2007). So You Want to Be a Film Or TV Screenwriter?. Enslow Publishers, Inc. p. 73.
  20. ^ "Empire's The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time". Empire. Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  21. ^ "The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made". The New York Times. April 29, 2003. Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  22. ^ "Entertainment Weekly's The 50 Best High School Movies". AMC Filmsite.org. Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  23. ^ A. O. Scott (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. 
  24. ^ "The Breakfast Club (High School Reunion Collection)". amazon.com. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
  25. ^ "The Breakfast Club (Flashback Edition)". amazon.com. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
  26. ^ "The Breakfast Club (25th Anniversary Edition)". Amazon.com. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  27. ^ http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003IWYOF4 "The Breakfast Club [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy] (Universal's 100th Anniversary)"]. amazon.com. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  28. ^ Universal 100th
  29. ^ "The Breakfast Club Vinyl Soundtrack (1985) - Sealed". Etsy. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  30. ^ Christgau, Robert (June 25, 1985). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved July 3, 2013. 
  31. ^ Thomas Erlewine, Stephen. "Review: The Breakfast Club – Original Soundtrack". Allmusic. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 

External links[edit]