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The Breakfast Club (DVD)
Member Name: Peakly
The Breakfast Club (DVD)
Date: 20/05/01, updated on 20/05/01 (143 review reads)
Advantages: You'll Laugh, & Cry, Lots
The Breakfast Club is the kind of film I wish I had written. You ever get that? Something comes along… a film… a book… a song..., and as well as just liking it, you really wish you had came up with the idea in the first place, not because you want the fame or money, just because it is so… indefinably… brilliant. So ‘you’. I get that inkling whenever I watch a Kevin Smith film. The Breakfast Club has similar qualities. Easy, to systematically tear-apart at the hands of a cynic, yet somehow so compelling, despite it’s glaring flaws and weaknesses. The best films, or at least my favourite films, are technical under-dogs – no effects, no American big-budget pat-on-the-back acting, a little ‘rough around the edges’, ‘raw’, if you like. It’s just how I like my art served, and how, in an ideal world where the ability were mine, I would make my art, too. But it’s not an ideal world, and I didn’t come up with the script for The Breakfast Club, so the next best thing from my point of view is to watch the thing. Over, and over again, laughing, enjoying, every time.
I think, maybe, it’s one of those ‘age things’. If it’s been a few decades since you were at school, and the last time you sat in a classroom you and your peers still feared the barbaric discipline of the cane (or anything else your Granddad told you about when you were young as evidence that when he was young things was much worse), the chances are you won’t be able to relate The Breakfast Club. Sorry, but it’s set in a high school during the 80’s for Christ’s sake, and its five principle characters are teenagers. But if you’re in the same boat as me, as I expect most of you are, and your memories of high-school are still fairly clear and correct, then you should take to this film right away. It’s the ultimate nostalgia/wish-you-were-young
-again trip. I hadn’t really intended to exclude the elderly and diminish the target audience for my opinion by the second paragraph here, but who cares – it’s getting late.
To continue a uninteresting trend in my movie ops, I shall now proceed to explain the basic plot of the film (I realise all half-way decent movie ops by other people do this too, but mine always seems to pop up in the same place), so that I can get to the criticism bit at the end without having to worry about how much you understand (I’ve read far, far too many opinions that launch into a critical analysis without going through the tedium of explaining the film/book/programme first, I’ll do my best not to put you through a similar experience).
To the Americans, the basic social-divisions within High School are as follows – the ‘jocks’ (popular, sportsmen types), the ‘princesses’ (female equivalent, popular, beautiful), the ‘wasters’ (kids who smoke pot and listen to rock music), the ‘weirdo’ (self-explanatory), and, of course, the ever classic ‘nerd’. I think the British terms differ slightly, or at least they did when I was in High School, but they all add up to the same things. The premise of The Breakfast Club is to take a classic example from each of these stereo-types and put them together, until it becomes slowly apparent to them that there is more to each other then the pigeon-holes they’ve been awarded, that a schooling body consists of individuals, etc. And so we have Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall as a bunch of teenagers brought together for a Saturday detention, who slowly come together and form ‘The Breakfast Club’. Their task is to write an essay ‘explaining who they are’ (that’ll be a channel for the message of the film then), though their numerous adventures include winding up e
ach other and their teacher, smoking pot and complaining about their parents.
The ‘message’ (urgh) of the film is fairly relevant I suppose, if a tad juvenile. Teenagers reach for the easiest ways to label and file each other, so that can continue growing fat in their own self-obsession and miss-guided angst. The problem is, geeks have just as many issues and problems as the druggies, and the popular’s don’t have as easy as the weirdo’s like to think, etc. The Breakfast Club is trying to remind us of that – and that includes the adults, too.
Well… ok, fair enough, but is it good to watch? Actually, yes, and a big fat ‘yes’ at that. The Breakfast Club is extremely funny, and moving, though it shouldn’t really be and you’ll feel silly afterwards. The theme song will make you cry (‘Don’t You’ by Simple Minds), and John Bender (the pot-smoker, played by Judd Nelson), and the manner in which he talks to his head-teacher, is quite simply hilarious. It’s one of those scripts literally littered with a hundred classic witticism's and ‘come-backs’, all of which you’ll want to quote and use in real life. The dialogue between characters is sharp and endlessly witty, yet there is always the sense that it could go all touching and deep at any moment. If anyone is a Kevin Smith fan, then you’ll be interested to know (if you don’t already, in which case you can feel smug) that John Huges, who wrote and directed The Breakfast Club (not to mention ‘Weird Science’), was a big Smith influence – and it shows. The camera-work and effects are limited both by the technology used, and more importantly by the nature of the writing, which takes, as with Kevin Smith films, a bland and unexciting scenario made colourful and exciting by the sheer brilliance of the dialogue contained within. The action never leaves the school, i
n fact, most of it is in the same room, yet your interest is held always by the sharpness of the script, that is equally compelling when it’s funny, or when it’s serious. Above all though, I think the main thing about this film that people love is how well anyone can relate to it. I guess the idea is to see yourself, or part of yourself, in each or at least one of the characters (for me it was John Bender, or maybe that’s just wishful thinking), and remember what it was like during the best days of your life, at school, when you knew everything yet nothing, etc. You remember how you used to moan about your parents, and how you viewed your peers, and it’s all there, on screen. Marvellous.
The acting, thankfully, does fine justice to the script. He keeps cropping up again, but Judd Nelson, for me, played a superb role – the most impressive of the bunch by far. His deliverance of the trade-mark teenage sarcasm was spot on, yet he manages to play the ‘smart-ass’ while making clear the weaknesses of the character he’s portraying. Emilio Estevez, I thought, was perhaps the ‘weak-link’ in the cast. I would never have dreamt of him playing a jock-type, if not for his physique alone. He often seems a tad wooden to me… he’s the TS to Nelson’s Brodie, to those of you who have seen Mallrats. I don’t know his name, but the man who played the Head teacher was genius. Everyone though, seems to fit their role like a glove, and no one comes even close to spoiling the over-all impact of the film, as is so often the case with heavy, challenging scripts such as these.
Watch it. It’s a classic. I don’t know what kind of person you are, but if you don’t like The Breakfast Club then I don’t like you (there, some easy comment-material for y’all). It’s corny, it’s got crappy 80’s music, it’s almost naive at times, but it is
also very, very funny. And moving. You’ll cry, I promise, or at least come close. Huges is offering you a chance to re-visit the hang-ups of your youth, those long-forgotten mentalities and attitudes that make you feel young, there for your recollection and enjoyment. The Breakfast Club is genius in it’s most simple and accessible form, and I promise you’ll get something out of it. Promise.