“Whatever happened to chivalry? Does it only exist in 80’s movies? I want John Cusack holding a boombox outside my window. I wanna ride off on a lawnmower with Patrick Dempsey. I want Jake from Sixteen Candles waiting outside the church for me. I want Judd Nelson thrusting his fist into the air because he knows he got me. Just once I want my life to be like an 80’s movie, preferably one with a really awesome musical number for no apparent reason. But no, no, John Hughes did not direct my life.”
– Olive Penderghast, Easy A (2010)
The above is taken from the recent teen film, Easy A. This is just one of several films who have made reference to the late, great John Hughes. In recent years, many films (and some television shows) have paid tribute to the writer, director and producer; either referencing his work or echoing the themes and characters portrayed. It could be argued that the teen/high school films of today would not be the way that they are if it was not for the films from John Hughes, for example, the popular ‘nerd’ character, seen in films such as Superbad, are clear reflections of the Anthony Michael Hall characters from the Hughes films.
Since his untimely death in 2009, Hughes’s work has been used as a theme for a recent episode of One Tree Hill, dedicating the episode to the director. The episode saw the characters face various situations that featured in Sixteen Candles, Home Alone and Pretty in Pink.
His films are were a huge success in the mid 1980s and still remain popular today. His films were so relatable to teenagers, creating likeable, true characters and creating storylines that echo the thoughts and feelings of teenagers. After all, it’s every girl’s nightmare to have her parents forget her 16th birthday!
The Breakfast Club is a particular stand out amongst the John Hughes collection. Telling the story of five students in detention, who have nothing in common and who simply see each other as the stereotypes in which they have been labelled; “The Criminal”, “The Princess”, “The Athlete”, “The Brain” and “The Basket Case”. The group were assigned an essay by the school’s principle detailing “who you think you are”. Forced to spend time together, they end up discussing their deepest secrets; realising that they all have poor relationships with their parents and how they worry that, having become friends, after the detention they will all continue to ignore each other and return to their own individual cliques.
“Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. What we did *was* wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms, in 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?… Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.”
Also known as the “Brat Pack”, the cast of the popular 1980s films, including many of Hughes’ films; Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Demi Moore, Andrew McCarthy, Rob Lowe and Judd Nelson became household names during the decade. However, not all went on to outstanding Hollywood careers, but will be remembered for bringing to life some of the most inspiring and true characters featured in movies aimed at teenagers.
John Hughes died on Auguest 6 2009, following a heart attack whilst he was out walking and was the subject of a tribute at the 2010 Academy Awards where the stars of several of his films came together to celebrate his work. I think John Hughes’s work will remain hugely successful and popular with his characters and plotlines continuing to inspire and influence future high school films. Hopefully generations to come will still enjoy the classic 80s teen movies and recognise the influence John Hughes has had upon teen films and popular culture since their release.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
– Ferris Bueller, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)