The Breakfast Club (1985)

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You see a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal.  Five teenagers enduring Saturday detention in a Chicago high school bond over their enmity of their supervisor (Paul Gleason). Yawn. Except this was probably the most audacious film of its year, courtesy of auteur John Hughes who got teens like nobody did. Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall) is the nerd from the academic clubs,  Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez) is the champion wrestler bullied by his folks, Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy) is the strange outcast, Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald) is daddy’s little girl who bunked off to go to the mall, while John Bender (Judd Nelson) is the tough guy whose father beats him.  They are all from completely opposing school cliques with nothing in common and they hate each other and everything they believe each other stands for. Then they realise that they all have major issues at home and that they could have some fun even if they never speak to each other after the bell rings … Party like it’s 1984. You know you want to.

Planes Trains and Automobiles (1987)

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I really don’t care for the way your company left me in the middle of fucking nowhere with fucking keys to a fucking car that isn’t fucking there. And I really didn’t care to fucking walk, down a fucking highway, and across a fucking runway to get back here to have you smile in my fucking face. I want a fucking car… right… fucking… now. Advertising executive Neal Page (Steve Martin) is something of a control freak. Trying to get home to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with his wife (Laila Robins) and kids, his flight is rerouted to a distant city in Kansas because of a freak snowstorm, and his sanity begins to fray. Worse yet, he is forced to bunk up with talkative slob Del Griffith (John Candy), a shower curtain ring salesman, whom he finds extremely annoying. Together they have to overcome the insanity of holiday travel to reach their intended destination… John Hughes’ films still tug at our heartstrings because they have a core of humanity beneath the hilarity.  Martin and Candy are perfectly paired – the nutty fastidious guy versus the relaxed nice guy, a kind of Odd Couple on a road trip with some outrageously good banter balancing the physical silliness. Martin’s descent into incivility is a joy:  anyone who’s ever been desperate to pick up their rental car will relate to how Neal loses it at the hire desk! I remember hearing when Candy had died feeling a terrible sorrow and thinking that of all the larger than life actors out there he was the one I most wanted to have around a very long time. I haven’t changed my mind. This is still very funny indeed.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)


Bueller? Bueller? The singing in the shower. The singing on the street! The Ferrari going off the edge … The escape from the restaurant. The art gallery. The chase across the back yards. Charlie Sheen hitting on Jeanie in the police station. The scam with the headmaster! The dog ON the headmaster! The school secretary. The disguises. Faking it! The music! The clothes! It’s set over a day, it was written in a week, shot in three months. It has the clean lines of a Tintin strip courtesy of Hughes’ regular cinematographer Tak Fujimoto and design by John W. Corso. Matthew Broderick as the charming one became a star and we all fell in love with this. Broderick and Alan Ruck were real-life best friends and hey, John Hughes was a genius. Aw heck, it’s just a forever movie. Bueller? Bueller?!

Pretty in Pink (1986)

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Before Winona Ryder, there was Molly Ringwald. She was Warren Beatty’s protegée and had a few small roles before becoming the mascot for teens everywhere through the cinema de John Hughes, the late lamented auteur who first worked with her in Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club (I may weep). His screenplay, directed by Howard Deutch, is constructed around a prom – who will Andie go with? And yet it’s about friendship, cliques, high school, romance, class, cars, clothes, fathers and daughters. She has the greatest BFF ever in Duckie, the unforgettable Jon Cryer, a mentor in old punk Annie Potts and crushes on Blane, the rich boy, played by Andrew McCarthy. Oh golly. We get to see Dweezil Zappa, Andrew Dice Clay, Gina Gershon, Kristy Swanson, James Spader when he still had hair and Harry Dean Stanton is Dad. The 80s were great. Weren’t they?