Arguably the best high school movie ever made, John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club finally makes its way to Blu-ray. Punished with detention, a group of five students are sentenced to spend an entire Saturday together sequestered in the school library. With each kid representing a different social class – Brian the brain (Anthony Michael Hall), Andrew the athlete (Emilio Estevez), Claire the princess (Molly Ringwald), Allison the basketcase (Ally Sheedy) and Bender the criminal (Judd Nelson) – the five start out disassociated and by the end of the day, discover they’ve got more in common with one another than they ever could have expected. Not much in the way of plot, but heavy on character development and even moreso on emotion and the realism of the American high school system, the film is the best of its kind; a strong and insightful portrait of people, more than teenagers. More after the jump:
The Breakfast Club is something of an anomaly, especially for a teen movie of the 80s. There’s no nudity, sex or violence. The most action the film sees is a short chase/avoidance of the principal sequence through the halls in an effort to bogart some pot from Bender’s locker. Other than that, the majority of the film takes place inside of one vast room inhabited by five strangers who don’t want to be there. And yet, the movie is charged with emotions, insights and an overall energy rarely seen in flicks about high school. This is chiefly due to Hughes’ strength as a filmmaker, or more specifically, his inherent understanding of these characters and the ways they communicate. Few screenwriters (if anyone) wrote dialogue for high schoolers with such an incredibly keen ear. Characters aren’t just defined by the things they say, but how they say them. Their speech is so specific, the script could just as easily work as a stage play as it does a movie. In an era when teen comedies were all about dick jokes and tit flashing (which, don’t get me wrong, have their place), Hughes dared to reach higher and have his young characters actually think before they spoke and acted.
Another key to the film’s success is its ability to find humor without going blue. The Breakfast Club’s comedy comes not from cheap, low-grade laughs, but through its strong parallels with reality. As in the greatest comedies, we’re laughing at these characters as we’re identifying with them. The chemistry of the cast and the performances are all standout, we never get bored watching these people, even when they are.
Not a whole lot to be commented on here. The Breakfast Club has always been a film more about characters and emotions than aesthetics. Its look was more about capturing the authenticities of high school banality than creating mood with shadows and light. That said, as with all Blu-rays, the picture and sound are indeed sharper, with the graininess levels kept to a minimum.
The supplementals are decent, if not overwhelmingly terrific. Two featurettes, one quickie about the origins of the “brat pack” and the other, “Sincerely Yours,” an in-depth examination of the machinations of the film are the standouts. “Sincerely Yours” gets insights from the actors as well as a number of filmmakers whose work’s been greatly influenced by The Breakfast Club. The commentary by Judd Nelson and Anthony Michael Hall is somewhat unfocused, as the actors wax nostalgic on everything from improvising on set to working with Hughes. The DVD producer’s prompting of discussions from the actors alternates between being insightful in offering more about the making of the movie and being just plain annoying.
A teen movie that manages to expertly balance comedy and drama like no other,
The Breakfast Club is the voice of a generation. Through its simple story, the film manages to operate on more levels than any other on the topic of negotiating life as a high schooler. The Blu-ray is a must have for any serious fan.