By Rachel Milberg
To call a film like The Breakfast Club a classic “Coming-of-Age” film would not suffice to express the long lasting impact that this movie has made on each generation that has passed since its release in 1985. The movie is a commentary on the pressure that teenagers face to impress their peers, their parents, and a world that seems to not understand them. With a plot so simple and a setting that never really shifts, the movie is confined to the actors and the plot to really make the long lasting impact that it has made. The movie is centered on five high school students enveloping typical stereotypes such the geek, the popular girl, the bad boy, the jock, and the recluse. Thousands of movies have taken on these stereotypes, from Mean Girls to Clueless, but many will say that it all originated here, in The Breakfast Club.
Under the direction of John Hughes, a directing legend, the movie comes off as an improvisational take on the minds of high school students dealing with common issues such as drugs, academic difficulties, and the confined cliques they are each apart of, however most of the movie is centered on pressure from their elders. Principal Richard Vernon, played by Paul Gleason, is an iconic character of high position that puts these kids in one singular category: subordinate. He charges these adolescents as being, “punks,” kids who pride themselves on getting a rise out of their parents and administrators. But throughout the movie, there is a profound change in these teenagers, who go from being total strangers, to confiding all of their secrets to each other. They cry, they joke, and they become friends. They peel away the preconceptions and look at the people sitting in front of them as human beings instead of mindless faces. It is a beautiful commentary on the incorrect preconceived notions of teenagers, who are often written off for being lazy or uninterested, and this did not only come across from watching the movie dozens of times, but from listening to the commentary portion of the 30th year anniversary DVD.
The movie with commentary features Judd Nelson (John Bender), and Anthony Michael Hall (Brian Johnson), as they comment over the movie talking about instances and stories on and off set. The most interesting part of the commentary was during the scene between Principal Vernon and Carl the janitor (John Kapelos) talking about the students. After Vernon states that the thought that wakes him up in the middle of the night is that these teenagers are one day going to be taking care of him, Carl responds with, “I wouldn’t count on it.” “The audience went crazy,” Hall remarks, stating that at this point in the movie, the entire crowd in the theatre erupted into applause. There’s something incredibly powerful about this realization that typecasting an entire generation as unprepared and incapable is a mistake, and is completely irrational. The movie gives a voice to the youth, and hopes to give a realization to their parents and teachers. Teenagers are not one sided. They are not disillusioned. They are complex individuals, and through their own ability to confide in these strangers they meet, they learn about themselves and about each other in the most honest, vulnerable way possible.
The Breakfast Club paints a different picture for every person that watches it. It appeals to all generations who have felt unrepresented. It resonates with all teenagers who feel unappreciated. It gives hope to those who feel alone. The Breakfast Club is a classic not because of the genius plot or the impeccable acting, but because of the feelings that every audience gets when watching it for the first time. It’s a classic because these themes don’t go away. They are modified and changed within every person who takes a seat to watch this film. Dotted with classic lines and iconic scenes, this film will never take a backseat, for it is one that will continue to resonate with every generation that comes after it.