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Friday
Aug072009

John Hughes 1950-2009

John Hughes, the poet laureate of teen angst, died today.  He had not directed a film in twelve years, nor one with any real impact in nearly twenty years.  Still, his passing saddens me more than other recent celebrity deaths.  I can easily forgive Hughes for the Home Alone films and dismal John Candy vehicles because he gave my generation some remarkable touchstones.  Starting with Sixteen Candles, Hughes made a string of films that captured the mindset of Gen X better than any other films of the time.  The films were so good, so popular, that they almost seemed to be reflecting the culture and creating it at the same time.  Alas, I'm not much of a star-****er, so instead of droning on about how Hughes enriched my soul or some nonsense, I'll just comment on the Hughes films everyone should watch in his memory.

 

Sixteen Candles--Molly Ringwald was so damned adorable as Sam Baker that it was nearly impossible not to feel for her as the events of the film unfolded.  The film hits very predictable buttons as the cool, smart girl is pushed to the background because attention is focused on her pretty, popular sister.  Still, every note is nearly perfect, and the image of Sam and Jake kissing over her lit birthday cake is one of the 80s most iconic.

 

The Breakfast Club--watch this one for the wonderful perfomances by the entire cast (some perhaps a bit broad, but still endearing) and for some of the best integration of pop music in cinema history.  Also, nothing says more about the way the masculine image was beginning to change than Bender removing his earing and giving it to Claire.  

 

Ferris Bueller's Day Off--okay, tough call here.  Ferris Bueler's Day Off is not nearly as good or as impactful as the first two films.  In fact, in my experience, viewers without nostalgia for the film or at least the period don't enjoy the it very much.  It has certainly dated worse than the two films above.  Ferris is far less likeable than we thought he was back then.  He's basically a smart ass who thinks he has all the answers and nearly ruins his best friend's life.  Still, in a lot of ways, he was the kid all of us wanted to be.  He was smooth, rebellious, and dating Mia Sara.  Most of all, the film should be watched for brilliant comedic performances from the supporting cast and the lovingly crafted tour of one of America's great cities.

 

So there it is, my little John Hughes Film festival.  If instead you end up watching Home Alone, Career Opportunities and Uncle Buck, don't blame me.

 

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Reader Comments (3)

No mention of Weird Science!? On NERDbloggers? Dropped the ball there, Anthony Michael Hall was not mentioned either and he was the reason NERD was cool back in the 80's. Come over here and teach me how to use this blog, Ive been motivated.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJodyRay

Let me start by saying that I am happy that you decided to pay tribute ( in a round about way) to John Hughes on your blog, because is one of my favorite directors if not solely my favorite.
But how can you even begin to talk about John Hughes and suggest that people should only watch Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. WTF? First of all in your synapsis of Sixteen Candles you mention Molly Ringwald, of corse, but you say nothing about Anthony Micheal Hall?! His performance in that movie as "The Geek" is one of the best in the entire film... not to mention that he was a CENTRAL character in that film. Even out shining Molly in some of the movies best scenes. Plus, there are so many other talented people cast in the background... John and Joan Cusack.
Second...You talked about "The Breakfast Club" ... this movie is beyond classic. It is iconic in itself. And, you mention that you felt it said alot about the way the masculine image was changing and it was portrayed in the film? Ummm... You should rewatch that scene because it is Claire that gives John her earring NOT the other way around which says very little about the masculine image but alot about her changing image of herself. She gives him her expensive diamond earrings her Daddy bought her as her own personal rebellion!
Third, you move on to "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"... You mention that the character Ferris is not likeable... Huh? He was suppost to come off as pretentious and bratty, which he does, and you still can't help but what to be him even if you think he is somewhat of a douchebag :) And, as far as this film not being a nostalic as the ones before it... well, you may be right on that fact but it still is an all time fan favorite, I can say this because I am truly a fan!

Oh one more thing you suggest that all the John Candy films were "dismal"... come on! Planes, Trains, and Automobiles!!!! And, how can you so easily write off "Home Alone". The first of those films was box office gold and brought America one of its favorite childstars of that decade... Macaulay Culkin.
Also, I am just stunned that you didn't mention Weird Science or Nation Lampoon (Christmas Vacation).... I mean come on, really?

So, for anyone else who stumbles upon this...
Take my advice... If you want to truly appreciate all that was John Hughes you can't just watch the three films mention in this blog...
Here would be a more suitable list....

Sixteen Candles
Breakfast Club
Weird Science
Pretty In Pink
Some Kind of Wonderful
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Trains, Planes, and Automobiles.

Yeah, some of these films are corny... But, hey wasn't that entire decade? :)

August 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrittany Maxie

I am going to have to agree with Jody and Brittany. Wierd Science was by far my favorite Hughes picture and for it to be left out of the mix is a bit of a travesty. I didn't enjoy Sixteen Candles nearly as much as everyone else. The other two that I really enjoyed was obviously Breakfast Club and the other is one that many people do not enjoy for some reason. I recently watched She's Having a Baby and I found it quite entertaining. I had never heard of it until I watched a Kevin Smith (Clerks) Q&A that I saw him mention the film, mentioning that it was what influenced him to write Jersey Girl. I gave it a watch and like I said it was a good flcik. Not one of his most iconic but still interesting

August 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRyne Johnson

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