My favorite classic 80s movie is The Breakfast Club (1985). Most children of the 80s love this movie because it is almost the epitome of the 80s with its styles and issues. While the issues that are presented in the film are pertinent to the 80s, they are also meaningful to most generations because it represents the age-old conflict between groups of different status symbols.
“The Breakfast Club” is about five students in high school who have Saturday detention. Each of the five students represents a different clique and, as such, hang out with different people, have different ideas, different issues and each seems to have a stereotypical viewpoint of each other. During detention, each student is supposed to write an essay about who each of them thinks he or she is.
In the beginning, the five students have major conflicts with one another and it almost results in fights. But, by the end of the movie, the students learn a lot about each other and a camaraderie of sorts is created. In only a few hours of detention, the students feel as if they have known each other for years.
“The Breakfast Club” is directed and written by John Hughes. He did a thorough job of accurately depicting some of the different cliques of many high schools during the 1980s. There are many cliques in high school and some of them have changed over the years and some new ones have been added since this movie was released but, the differences between the cliques will always exist.
The actors and actresses playing the roles of the five students do a great job with each of their different cliques. We have Emilio Estevez playing a jock, Molly Ringwald playing a princess, Ally Sheedy playing a misfit, Anthony Michael Hall playing a nerd, and Judd Nelson playing a lout or criminal type character. Added to the mix is Paul Gleason, who plays Richard Vernon, the teacher in charge of detention. Judd Nelson’s character is the antagonist for much of the movie – he inadvertently jump starts the other students into learning about one another.
The five students are having Saturday detention for eight hours and during that time, each is supposed to write an essay about who they think they are. Everyone is quiet until the single teacher in charge of detention leaves the room and then the students start talking and arguing. After a few hours of battling each other over their differences, they start to learn about each other and their similarities. They learn that each has a strained relationship with their parents and do not want to make the same mistakes that they did when they were young. In a few hours, it is as if they all understand each other and support one another. For those last few hours, they’re all friends. At the end, each student is afraid that, once detention is over, they will return to their cliques and never speak to each other again.
The students agree that Anthony Michael Hall’s character should write the final essay for all of them. The essay that is written ridicules the original subject as forcing the cliques stereotypes onto one another. It basically states that the ones that made them write the essay have a preconceived notion of each student’s existence and wants them to write what they want to hear. Each student is much more complicated than that.
“The Breakfast Club” shows us we are all different yet share many commonalities, which we often overlook due to our differences. Sometimes, it takes a little fate to bring us all together and understand each other. It is a simple subject and this movie does it very well using an 80s setting but, the story can be set in any modern time and, with a few changes, would be just as good. It is befitting of the 1980s children because it was a time of new understanding and rebellion, such as represented by the “Twisted Sister” song, “We’re Not Gonna Take It Anymore.”
“The Breakfast Club” is available on DVD almost everywhere. Five online sources where it can be purchased include: