Some of you may notice a certain '80s movie being re-released in theaters. Premiering Thursday (March 26) at the Promenade Cinema and Tuesday (March 31) at the Carmike Theater is "The Breakfast Club," celebrating its 30th year anniversary.
Directed by John Hughes in 1985, "The Breakfast Club" is considered one of the best high school films ever made. It solidified Hughes as a filmmaker and became one of his most recognizable works.
Andrew Gingerich, a filmmaking instructor at Western Iowa Tech Community College, commented on the film's legacy.
What was your reaction the first time you watched "The Breakfast Club"?
It was before my time. I don’t think I saw it as a kid. It was probably only a few years ago when I watched it for the first time. I went all through film school and we sort of turned up our noses at movies like that. I’m not even sure why because it’s a brilliant, brilliant film. He’s a fascinating filmmaker and a really smart director. After I saw “The Breakfast Club” I sort of went on a John Hughes kick. “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is a classic and “Sixteen Candles” is another one I really like.
Out of all the John Hughes movies, which one do you like the best?
My girlfriend will kill me for saying this because she’s a real big “Ferris Bueller” fan, but “The Breakfast Club” is definitely the best one. It’s so simple. There’s so much economy to it.
I was talking with my students about it and I asked them if they had any thoughts on “The Breakfast Club.” And one of my students said since it’s all in one location and so compact and contained it’s like “12 Angry Men” for teenagers. I think that’s what I like about it. It all takes place in one room and one day. It’s just incredible storytelling. It’s one of the smartest scripts that I think I’ve ever seen.
What did you take away from the film after watching it?
I think there’s a message of inclusion and a message of not judging people based on their outward appearances or these assumptions we make about them. It just made me really happy. I sometimes get kind of cynical about people and how people relate to each other, but I think “The Breakfast Club” is pulling out the best in people and showing the best in all of the characters, which is just excellent. There are so few movies where there isn’t a real villain -- in some ways the principal is the villain – but really it’s just a movie about circumstances.
Is there a character's story that resonated with you?
In later viewings, when I’ve gone back and watched it again, I’ve been really drawn to the character of the principal. I think he’s kind of fascinating. He sort of gets short-tripped. There are a couple of moments where his humanity shines through and I think that’s something I struggle with. Oftentimes as a teacher, you can kind of start seeing yourself as making a product and it’s easy to lose sight of the humanity of your students. I think that there are a couple moments where you really see a glimmer of that in the principal. That’s refreshing.
Is there a certain character you connected with the most?
Anthony Michael Hall. That was definitely me in high school.
As an instructor, do you still see those cliques that are portrayed in the movie?
As a college-level instructor, I don’t see it as much. But yeah I still think they do exist in high school, feeling very much the same way – sort of disenfranchised and ignored and being pigeonholed into one group that defines them. I think it’s a really relevant film. It’s one of those movies where you say it’s a quintessential ’80s movie, and I think it’s kind of sad because it’s still just as relevant today apart from maybe the hairstyles.
How do you think the film has managed to keep its relevance 30 years after its release?
It’s just characters bouncing off each other. The hairstyles may change and the interior decoration may change, but ultimately those same stories happen again and again. You can show that movie to anyone from any period in history and they’d probably understand the core of it.
Has the movie aged from a cinematic standpoint?
There are certainly stylistic things that have changed. In a lot of ways, John Hughes movies defined the ’80s. He has these stylistic quirks like the dance party sequence -- it’s used really well but it’s definitely one of those things that you don’t really see as much. By the same token, the ’80s are making a comeback. Even “Guardians of the Galaxy” owes a lot to John Hughes – that goofy self-awareness and humor in the way the story is told is sort of a gentle, loving humor that doesn’t single out characters or belittle people.
People say John Hughes movies defined an era, are there any movies that that would define this generation?
It seems to me that probably our era of filmmaking right now will be remembered as the era of superhero movies, for better and for worse. It’s hard to tell which movies are going to last. I don’t know if in the ’80s people would pick “The Breakfast Club” as a film that would last the way it has.
“The Breakfast Club” took a look at teenage problems, do you think today’s movies can still do that?
They still can. A barrier that it really broke was in making a movie that was a really honest and unflinching depiction of teenage life when not a lot of movies were doing that at the time.
There are certainly darker movies that have come around since then like Gus Van Sant, who made a movie called “Elephant” that’s essentially about the Columbine shootings. I think the very existence of that movie is probably predicated to some on extent on “The Breakfast Club” and it being OK to address things that are maybe not entirely lighthearted. There are some things in “The Breakfast Club” that are heavy, heavy issues. The ability to broach those on screen is due in great deal to that film.
John Hughes is a hugely important filmmaker. Any chance that we can get to remember his work is really, really valuable.