Sunday, June 12, 2016

80's teen trifecta

Nothing beats teen movies from the 80's. Or more so, the teen movies made by our favorite teen angst director John Hughes. For most of my friends and older family, we grew up with some of the best teen generation of films of our time. It was a time before crazy green screens and special effects. Where romance and love was raw, sometimes sleazy but not often as it is seen in today's millennial world. I recently had the pleasure of re-watching 3 of my all time favorite 80's teen movies over the weekend (all which star Molly Ringwald) and it's safe to say, no matter how many times I watch these films, I never get sick of them! So I am dedicating this blog post to these 3 flicks.

Sixteen Candles - 1984 Universal Pictures

We've all been there. Dorky high school student, surrounded by annoying family life. You feel like you don't quite fit in and you have some weird and wonderful friends. Have a major crush on the popular guy who most likely doesn't know you exist. May sound familiar! Well, I may be speaking for myself (haha) but the above description sets the scene for Samantha (Ringwald) as her 16th birthday is upon her. Thinking this particular birthday is a life changing experience, she wakes on this glorious Friday, gets ready for school just like any other day. Her house is thrown into a bit of disarray with her older sister getting married the following day. Grandparents are due to flood the house in the afternoon and among it all of this, her parents and siblings completley forget that it is her birthday even though she hints and ahh's at them. Nope, nada. No birthday wishes for you. She finds this highly odd and expresses her frustration but without actually coming out and saying it. So with this intro setting the tone of the movie (and Ringwald plays the angry angsty teen so well) she set's off on her Friday school day.

Jake, Ted and Sam - Sixteen Candles
You're introduced to Sam's rocker friend while they are in class and while they are sitting there, Sam fills out a teen sex quiz someone has asked her to do. She's meant to hand it to her friend cheekily but her friend doesn't get the note and it ends up in the hands of Jake Ryan, the senior rich guy who she has a crush on. Nervously after class her friend admits to not having the note so Sam freaks out a bit. On her way home from school on the dreaded school bus, Sam runs into Ted, a freshman (junior) who seems to have a major crush on her but is not at all shy in showing his affections towards her. Sam is totally put off by Ted's geekiness and forwardness, completley brushes him off and hopes that she won't see him again for a while. Later that afternoon the grandparents decent on her house and her gran and pa bring Long Duck Dong (Watanabe) an exchange student from China. When the film came out, there was a bit of controversy about the depiction of Watanabe's character, as the script written for him came across quite racist. Needless to say, the scenes with Watanabe are still quite hilarious (especially when he trashes the grandparents car and gets ridiculously stoned). Later that night, Sam attends the school dance where you see Ted (Michael Hall) in his geek glory trying to win the affections of Sam, even though Jake has eyes for Sam and Sam is too nervous to actually speak to him.

Sam gets her guy - Sixteen Candles
Theres an endearing scene where Sam runs off and is sitting in the schools car workshop, this is where Ted decides to try and make his move, but learns of Sam's crush on Jake. You see, Ted's bet his geekoid friends that he can "go all the way" with Sam so in exchange for having a trusted D and M, Sam reluctantly loans Ted her underwear to put to rest the bet he has hedged with his geek buddies. From there Ted and his geek buddies crash Jakes after party and its there that Jake learns from Ted how keen Sam really is on him. Jake wants a serious girlfriend and not the party girl Caroline who is he supposed to be dating. And then you can guess the ending and what happens from there on in. While completley predictable, Sixteen Candles still lights that torch for our eternal first love which is why so many of us can relate to it! John Hughes knows how to subtly add that comedy to an already nervous emo storyline and he does it perfectly in this film. The soundtrack to this film is a great addition too. They released a full soundtrack of all the great 80's hits like Altered Images, The Dyvinals and Billy Idol just to name a few. Thats one thing you can count on for 80's movies is the soundtracks were always awesome.

The Breakfast Club - 1985 - Universal Pictures

I only ever watched the Breakfast club at the age of 13 or 14 and when I first watched it I thought " of high school kids, in detention on a weekend, running a muck, smoking drugs, getting crushes etc. It wasn't until in my 20's and I re-watched this movie that everything made more sense. After dealing with the rush of emotions and hormones growing up as a teen, the penny dropped where anyone who watched this film could relate to one or more than one of the characters and the angst they were feeling within their own sphere of growing into young adults. The nerd, the jock, the basket case, the princess and the criminal. Any present teen at any one moment is living one of these persona's. 

The Breakfast Club
Hughes loved featuring Ringwald and Michael Hall in his teen flicks and this film is no different. Since he saw the eternal geek in Michael Hall from the previous film Sixteen Candles, he cast him as the feature nerd, originally wanted to cast Ringwald as the basket case, but Ringwald fiercely objected and wanted to play the princess role so the basket case was given to Ally Sheedy (one of her first acting roles). There were some casting drama's too when Hughes was casting 'the criminal' as this role was between Judd Nelson and John Cusack. Nelson scored the role as he came across as more "bad" even trying to hit on Ringwald long after the camera's were off! The film's soundtrack only featured 3 stars when it was released in 85 with the hit song "Don't you forget about me" by Simple Minds making its way upon debut to no 1 on the US Billboard charts.

Paul Gleason who plays the assistant principal 'Vernon' who has to oversee the misfits makes it clear to them he isn't going to put up with their nonsense and you get an instant sense of loathing him from 5 minutes into the film. The funny thing about his role is that EVERY school kid can relate to having that one teacher or authoritarian body who they just couldn't stand nor get a break from. It was almost like that one teacher constantly woke up on the wrong side of the bed every single day and slay their wrath on any student which pressed their buttons. 

It isn't until you see Vernon run into the janitor Carl in the afternoon, where you learn on his tough stance with the kids. And that wise wise janitor who tries to reason with Vernon, has become a hero to many of us grown up adults because he speaks truth of oppression of which most young teens of today experience from the older generation. I don't think it matters if you watch this film in your teens, or as an adult. Hughes has a genius way of evoking the inner adolescent in all of us through how he builds his characters. I really wish this was a staple film in every high school because if goes so much further than just another teen film, more so an entry level insight into the tribulations of growing.

Pretty in Pink - 1986 - Paramount Pictures

Girl is senior. Girl is weird, comes from a broken home. Has an equally whacky best friend (Ducky) who she's known since primary school who coat tails on her every move (and secretly likes her too) they both have a whacky 80's dress sense and are both certainly not one of the more conservative or preppy types.

Girl gains the attention of senior popular guy and he then gets a crush on her. Another one of Hughes classic teen flicks where Ringwald leads the cast as Andy, the weird fashion loving gal described above. Andrew McCarthy plays Blane, the preppy guy with the crush. His best friend disapproved of Blane's new found admiration for the weird girl which sparks. You can guess the rest of the general vibe of this movie. Does Andy end up with Ducky or Blane? Who will she take to her final prom?

I recently went to the 30 year viewing of this film with my husband and I was surprised to learn at the time, that Hughes had actually planned the alternate ending for the film and part of the showing was that they viewed what the ending would have looked like had Andy picked the "other guy". It seemed awkward and after a peer group review of the alternate ending way back then, Hughes decided to go with..... aha! You will have to watch to find out if you haven't already seen this classic.

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