(On Some Recommendable Films through the Decades)
John Hughes’ ’80s Youth-Oriented Films
Movies made by John Hughes certainly lead 1980s’ youth-oriented films. Therefore, if you’re a 40-something like me and wanted to revisit your youthful days in that decade or if, despite your not being a part of that generation, you’re simply interested or curious about American coming-of-age films that commercially dominated the 1980s, then you should watch (or re-watch) the following films all of which were written and directed by Hughes.
Sixteen Candles (1984)
The story revolves around the 16th birthday of Sam Baker (Molly Ringwald), which her family has forgotten because of her older sister’s coming wedding. It tells of Sam’s coming-of-age problems that remain typical even in today’s standards—that include how to deal with crushes, losing virginity, and protective parents. It also featured Anthony Michael Hall, Michael Schoeffling, and John Cusack.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
Starring Emilio Estevez (Andy), Anthony Michael Hall (Brian), Judd Nelson (John), Molly Ringwald (Claire), Ally Sheedy (Allison), and Paul Gleason (the assistant principal), the movie’s storyline centers on five teenagers, each a member of a different highschool circle, who spend a Saturday in detention together and come to realize that they are all more than their respective stereotypes, while facing a bully assistant principal. The downside of this film is the lack of love angles and outdoor scenes. However, if you’re the type who doesn’t get bored with movies with only one setting (in this case, a school on a class-less day) and whose human interactions are almost limited to the exchange of dialogues between the five students, then this film might work for you.
Weird Science (1985)
Starring Anthony Michael Hall (Gary Wallace), Ilan Mitchell-Smith (Wyatt Donnelly), Kelly LeBrock, and Robert Downey Jr., this science-fiction-flavored teen comedy is about two highschool nerds whom school bullies look down to because of their clumsiness towards girls. During the weekend party the two hosted at Wyatt’s house (parents are gone on a vacation!), they create a sexy woman out of a Barbie doll using a computer. That’s when their not-nerdy-anymore adventures begin.
Pretty in Pink (1986)
One of the most beloved of Hughes’ youth-oriented film, primarily because of the story of a love triangle between Andie Walsh (Ringwald), a working-class girl; the serious-looking rich boy Blane McDonough (Andrew McCarthy); and her trendy and happy-go-lucky bestfriend Duckie (Jon Cryer). Like many teen love–oriented films, Pretty in Pink ends in a prom scene, in which Andie has to choose between the two very opposite guys. A big plus of this movie for me is the soundtrack that comprised mostly by New Wave songs, significantly “If You Leave” by the English band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
This film follows the exploits of highschool senior Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick), who skips school and spends the day in downtown Chicago. Accompanied by his girlfriend Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara) and his bestfriend Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck), he cleverly avoids his school’s Dean of Students Edward Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), his resentful sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey), and his parents. The film’s edge over the other works of Hughes in the genre was its having generously featured outdoor scenes. Many famous Chicago landmarks including the then Sears Tower and the Art Institute of Chicago were highlighted in the film.
The Last Leaf
In spite of the long list of equally worthy ’80s-released youth-oriented films—like Zapped! (1982), Valley Girl (1983), Electric Dreams (1984), Revenge of the Nerds (1984), The Heavenly Kid (1985), Can’t Buy Me Love (1987), and Happy Together (1989) (all of which I will feature in future issues)—Hughes’ contributions to the genre remain among the most commercial and quintessential.
Born in February 18, 1950, and died on August 6, 2009, of a heart attack, John Wilden Hughes Jr. was an American film director and screenwriter whose significant film credits, aside from the ones featured here, included Home Alone (1990, starring Macaulay Culkin) and its two sequels (1992, 1997), Miracle on 34th Street (1994, Mara Wilson), and Maid in Manhattan (2002, Jennifer Lopez).