By Sarah Gill
Thirty-five years ago, on March 24, 1984 a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal walked into detention and came out as The Breakfast Club. John Hughes’ 1985 movie has become a Coming of Age classic, leaving a huge impact on the way teen movies are made. It left a legacy that has paved the way for all of our favourite films.
“We think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us — in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. Does that answer your question?”
This movie was the first to truly explore the inner psyche of teenagers. It encompasses every stereotypical archetype of high school cliques: the prom queen, the weirdo, the geek, the jock and the bad ass. The isolated setting of a locked classroom strips back all distraction until the group of kids end up engaging in a make-shift therapy session. Through their differences they explore themselves and confront their feelings of angst and inadequacy.
This was the first time that teenage characters were fully developed and understood. Each member of the Club was given a different narrative, with something in everyone that the viewer can relate to. Whether it’s the revelation that John’s father beats him, that Brian contemplated suicide or that each character has faced pressure to be something they’re not, each character is human. Just like Andrew says, “We’re all pretty bizarre, some of us are just better at hiding it.”
Pressure to lose your virginity, behave how your friends behave, do well in school, make your parents proud and everything in between, these three-dimensional characters are just about ready to crack under the strain. This movie was the first of its ilk to demonstrate a real understanding of the complex emotions young people feel. These raw, genuine feelings of imperfection are not trivialised or patronised. They are fully explored.
This movie laid the foundation for classics like Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You, Dazed and Confused and My So Called Life – it transformed the genre entirely. Obviously, The Breakfast Club has become slightly dated in the years since its initial release, but a huge amount of its subject matter was very ahead of its time. From the Madonna-wh*re complex to having an existential crisis and a whole lot more. And come on, that nostalgic soundtrack still echoes throughout so many of its contemporaries.
The Breakfast Club resonates with so many people to this day. It showed generations of viewers that they are not alone in their flaws or feelings of angst. You can’t see that freeze-frame of Judd Nelson with his fist in the air without feeling a swell of nostalgia in your chest.
What happens on Monday morning? That’s up to you.