John Hughes began as a National Lampoon writer, began writing and directing his own exceptional teen films, then became just another idiot movie guy: at first writing less-good teen films for other people to direct, then directing his standard goofball comedy movies, then writing about twelve versions of Home Alone, then hitting bottom with scripts like the live action 101 Dalmatians, Flubber, and Just Visiting. But it's for his early projects that I still consider him a favorite, for making movies that transcended the teen genre.
Sixteen Candles (1984) -- A cute and funny enough movie that jump-started John Hughes into making some of the better teen movies of the time (or any time). Anthony Michael Hall is the standout. C
The Breakfast Club (1985) -- I never experienced cliques in high school, since I pretty much naively hung out with everyone and didn't know the difference between popular and unpopular people. My closest handful of friends (the Rusty clique?) were more or less the same, floating among cheerleaders, band members, D&D players, football players, the science club, or whatever other groups supposedly fit in some social hierarchy. At any rate, this ignorance didn't stop me from enjoying The Breakfast Club whose entire premise is that these groups exist. I think the subject was handled nicely, especially for something that could have been done really badly (1990s MTV could have screwed it up real bad). On the one hand, of course, this sort of social commentary is a "teaching" movie (I've even shown it in my English classes to promote discussion) which is usually a bad thing, but the movie is cool (and funny) enough to get away with it. It's one of John Hughes' more serious movies, and one of his best. A
Weird Science (1985) -- I finally saw Sixteen Candles when I was 26, but I saw Weird Science when I was ten: is this the reason why I like Weird Science so much better? I can never know for sure, but I also suspect that Weird Science is just more out-there, goofy, stupid, impossible, etc., making me like it better than the bittersweet Molly Ringwald movie. Anthony Michael Hall is great again as the nerd tryin' to be cool, and Bill Paxton is hilarious. It's one of those movies that's both dumb and imaginative and has its own weird logic (that anything's possible, especially the absurd), so I like it. It's kind of cross between The Cat in the Hat (the book) and Mary Poppins, but with horny teenagers. A
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) -- My favorite John Hughes movie, and it should be yours too. First of all, I don't know if I've seen a character who appreciates, enjoys, and takes advantage of life (in this case, his young life: youth is not wasted on him) as much as Ferris Bueller. He ignores everything about high school that makes it stupid (like cliques--he's friends with everyone--and showing up for class every single day), while focusing his attention the main thing that makes it worthwhile (friends). And Matthew Broderick is perfect in playing him. The more I watched the movie, however, the more I realized it was about Ferris's friend Cameron. He's the one who's NRVOUS, who has to face his invisible father (and does, in a scene better than Judd Nelson's from The Breakfast Club), and who is actually the most interesting character in the movie. Great characters and an actual point to the movie aside, everything and everyone else is great too: Jeffrey Jones as Ed Rooney, Jennifer "Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner" Grey as the sister, Edie McClurg as herself, and of course Ben Stein in the role that made him famous. A
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987) -- After directing four teen movies and writing two more (Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful), he turns to two guys out of high school, Steve Martin and John Candy. I guess I just don't care for those fat guy annoys straight man movies, since this one was funny enough but not great. C
Copyright (c) Aug 2001 - Jan 2006 by Rusty Likes Movies