The Breakfast Club

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This article is about the 1985 film directed by John Hughes. 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
Music by Keith Forsey
Gary Chang
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 strict disciplinarian.

The film premiered in Los Angeles on 7 February 1985. Universal Pictures released the film in cinemas on February 15, 1985 in the United States. It received critical acclaim and earned $51.5 million on a $1 million budget. Critics consider it one of the greatest high school films of all time, 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 title comes from the nickname invented by students and staff for morning detention at New Trier High School, the school attended by the son of one of John Hughes' friends. Thus, those who were sent to detention before school starting time were designated members of "The Breakfast Club".

The film was digitally remastered and was re-screened throughout 430 theaters in celebration of its 30th anniversary in 2015.[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. 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, the state champion wrestler Andrew Clarke, the bookish Brian Johnson, the reclusive outcast Allison Reynolds, and the rebellious delinquent John Bender.

They gather in the high school library, where assistant principal Richard Vernon instructs them not to speak, move from their seats, or sleep until they are released at 4:00 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. John, 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 an occasional random outburst. Over the course of the day, Vernon gives John several weekends' worth of additional detention and even locks him in a storage closet, but he escapes and returns to the library.

The students pass the hours by talking, arguing, and, at one point, smoking marijuana that John retrieves from his locker. Gradually, they open up to each other and reveal their deepest personal secrets: Allison is a compulsive liar; Andrew cannot easily think for himself; John comes from an abusive household; Brian was planning to kill himself with a flare gun 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 him; Brian's overbearing parents put immense pressure on him to earn high grades; and Claire's parents use her to get back at each other during frequent arguments. The students realize that, even with 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 gives Allison a makeover, to reveal just how pretty she really is, which sparks romantic interest in Andrew. Claire decides to break her "pristine" virgin appearance by kissing John in the closet and giving him a hickey. Although they suspect that the relationships will end with the end of their detention, their mutual experiences will change the way they look at their peers afterwards.

As the detention nears its end, the group requests that Brian complete the essay for everyone and John returns to the storage closet to fool Vernon into thinking he has not left. Brian writes the essay and leaves it in the library for Vernon to read after they leave. As 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 the essay (read by Brian in voice-over), in which Brian states that Vernon has already judged who they are, using simple definitions and stereotypes. One by one, the five students' voices add, "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." Brian signs the letter as "The Breakfast Club." John raises his fist in triumph as he walks across the school football field toward home.


  • Judd Nelson as John Bender, the criminal. He is in detention for pulling a false fire alarm.
  • Molly Ringwald as Claire Standish, the princess. She is in detention after skipping class to go shopping.
  • Emilio Estevez as Andrew "Andy" Clarke, the athlete. He is in detention for taping another male student's buttocks together.
  • Anthony Michael Hall as Brian Ralph Johnson, the brain. He is in detention after a flare gun, which was found in his locker, went off.
  • Ally Sheedy as Allison Reynolds, the basket case. She was not given detention, but chose to show up that morning due to having "nothing better to do."
  • Paul Gleason as Richard "Dick" Vernon, the school assistant principal
  • John Kapelos as Carl Reed, the school janitor
  • Ron Dean as Mr. Clark
  • Mercedes Hall as Mrs. Johnson
  • John Hughes as Mr. Johnson (uncredited)
  • Mary Christian as Brian's sister
  • Tim Gamble as Mr. Standish
  • Perry Crawford as Mr. Reynolds
  • Fran Gargano as Mrs. Reynolds



Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall both starred 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 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 role to be cast, though the role was narrowed down to John Cusack and Judd 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 disappointed at Nelson because he stayed in character by harassing 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 with resistance and skepticism because he lacked filmmaking experience.[8] Hughes ultimately convinced the film's investors that due to the modest $1 million budget and its single location shoot, he could greatly minimize their risk. Hughes originally thought that The Breakfast Club would be his directorial debut. Hughes opted for an insular, largely one room set 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. Filming took place at Maine North High School in Des Plaines, Illinois, shuttered in 1981. The same setting was used for interior scenes of Hughes' 1986 film Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which featured exterior shots from nearby Glenbrook North High School. The library at Maine North High School, considered too small for the film, prompted the crew to build 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] On the Ferris Bueller's Day Off DVD commentary (featured on the 2004 DVD version), 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 clocked in at 150 minutes.[12]

During a cast reunion in honor of the film's 25th anniversary, Ally Sheedy revealed that a Director's Cut existed but Hughes' widow did not disclose any details concerning its whereabouts.[6]


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.[13] 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." The poster itself was so influential, it was parodied in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 a year later.


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.[14][15] 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."[16]

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.[14]


The film premiered in Los Angeles on 7 February 1985. Universal Pictures released the film in cinemas on February 15, 1985 in the United States.

Home media[edit]

In 2003, the film was released on DVD as part of the "High School Reunion Collection".[17] In 2008, a "Flashback Edition" DVD was released with several special features, including an audio commentary with Anthony Michael Hall and Judd Nelson.[18] A 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray was released in 2010,[19] and the same disc was re-released with a DVD and digital copy in 2012 as part of Universal's 100th Anniversary series.[20][21] 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.[22]


Critical response[edit]

The film received high critical acclaim. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes give the film a 89% approval rating with a critical consensus states "The Breakfast Club is a warm, insightful, and very funny look into the inner lives of teenagers".[23] 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".[24]

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).[25] Grossing $45,875,171 domestically and $51,525,171 worldwide, the film is a box office success, given its alleged $1 million budget.[26]


Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy won a Silver Bucket of Excellence Award at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards in 2005.

Award Nominee Result
Silver Bucket of Excellence Award Anthony Michael Hall
Judd Nelson
Molly Ringwald
Ally Sheedy

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.[30] In 2008, Empire magazine ranked it #369 on their The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time list.[31] It then rose a remarkable 331 places to rank at #38 on their 2014 list.[32] Similarly, The New York Times placed the film on its Best 1000 Movies Ever list[33] and Entertainment Weekly ranked the film number 1 on its list of the 50 Best High School Movies.[34]

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.[35] Degrassi: The Next Generation paid homage to the film in its third season episode "Take on Me" (2003). As in the film, a diverse cross-section of the student body from different cliques are detained on a Saturday. Principal Raditch wears an approximation of Principal Vernon's "Barry Manilow" suit.

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". Yellowcard performed Simple Minds' anthem for the film, "Don't You (Forget About Me)", at the awards. At the 82nd Academy Awards (March 7, 2010), 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.


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 Records
Producer various artists
Singles from The Breakfast Club (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  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 on February 19, 1985 by A&M Records. The album peaked at No. 17 on the US Billboard 200 album chart. The song or track "Don't You (Forget About Me)" being performed by the Scottish rock band Simple Minds was released on 20 February 1985 in the United States and on 8 April 1985 in the United Kingdom as a single or song and reached No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Track listing[edit]

  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 June 25, 1985 review for The Village Voice, music critic Robert Christgau gave the album a "D-" and said that it has "utterly negligible" songs, and he commended Simple Minds for trying to distance themselves from their song, best known for being played during the film' opening and closing credits: "Don't You (Forget About Me)".[36] In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave the soundtrack 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".[37]


  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. ^ "". 
  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. ^ "Premiere, December 1999, Oral history "Breakfast Club"". 
  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. ^ Gora, Susannah (2010). You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried. Three Rivers Press. pp. 79-80, 325-326.
  14. ^ a b Loukides, Paul (1996). Beyond the Stars 5: Themes and Ideologies in American Popular Film. Popular Press. pp. 30–32. ISBN 9780879727017. 
  15. ^ Barsanti, Chris (2010). Filmology: A Movie-a-Day Guide to the Movies You Need to Know. Adams Media. p. 49.
  16. ^ "The Breakfast Club". Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  17. ^ "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. 
  18. ^ "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. 
  19. ^ "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. 
  20. ^ "The Breakfast Club (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) : Universal's 100th Anniversary". Retrieved March 26, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Celebrating 100 years of iconic movie moments". Universal 100th. Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  22. ^ "The Breakfast Club 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray". Retrieved December 30, 2014. 
  23. ^ "The Breakfast Club Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 16, 2013. 
  24. ^ "The Breakfast Club, Movie Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved July 14, 2010. 
  25. ^ "Weekend Box Office: February 15-18, 1985—4-day President's Day Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-09-03. 
  26. ^ The Breakfast Club at Box Office Mojo
  27. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved October 12, 2012. 
  28. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers Nominees (PDF)
  29. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) Ballot (PDF)
  30. ^ Dunkleberger, Amy (2007). So You Want to Be a Film Or TV Screenwriter?. Enslow Publishers, Inc. p. 73. 
  31. ^ "Empire's The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time". Empire. Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  32. ^ "The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time - Empire -". 
  33. ^ "The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made". The New York Times. April 29, 2003. Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  34. ^ "Entertainment Weekly's The 50 Best High School Movies". AMC Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  35. ^ 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. 
  36. ^ Christgau, Robert (June 25, 1985). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved July 3, 2013. 
  37. ^ Thomas Erlewine, Stephen. "Review: The Breakfast Club – Original Soundtrack". Allmusic. Retrieved January 29, 2013. 

External links[edit]