I graduated from high school in 1986, so the Breakfast Club will always have a certain resonance for me. Coincidentally, I watched the film a few months ago (for the first time since seeing it in a theater in Austin) – verdict, good film, not great, but watchable.
Make it a double feature with Slacker (filled with people I knew or at least recognized from Austin’s streets), and you have a decent biosketch of a lot of people my age.
Hanging over the film is a dread that no matter how cool or rebellious or thoughtful you may be, we all become our parents. Well, sounds good: Socioeconomically speaking, this generation (according to too many studies to mention) will be the first in 60 years to have smaller incomes, greater student-loan debt and higher unemployment than the previous generation. Said Daniel Siegel, the esteemed clinical psychiatrist and author of “The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are”: “The upside may be an increased quality of life than generations before this one. Science supports that if you don’t reflect on what happened to you as a child, it is highly probable you will re-enact the behaviors of your parents. Under stress, those qualities really come out. Culture may change, but that fundamental reality hasn’t. But it could be this generation is more reflective. The more mindful you are, the more you release yourself from matters of the past, and I think that mindfulness is being encouraged more than back in 1985.”
The critical assessment
“The Breakfast Club” made $51 million on a modest budget of $1 million. Chicago reviews were generous: Roger Ebert (“a surprisingly good ear”) and Gene Siskel (“thoroughly serious”) raised their thumbs. Elsewhere, notice was mixed. Kirk Honeycutt, then film critic for the Los Angeles Daily News (and later the Hollywood Reporter), remembers: “I thought the movie was a little pat, a little too eager to blame parents, then go home.” These days, it’s seen as Hughes’ defining work, an ’80s touchstone with a Rotten Tomatoes approval (consisting of mostly blog reviews) of 91 percent. It is in a way a reminder that nostalgia and reassessment take an outsize role in deciding what becomes a classic. Honeycutt, for instance, has a new book: “John Hughes: A Life in Film.” He told me: “A lot of critics didn’t treat (Hughes) fairly. I think we were too worried about, say, Woody Allen. These kid problems looked overblown. We missed the relevance. Hughes was making a point about how it felt to be a teen, and we missed it with “Breakfast Club.” I failed it too. But then, a good film — you see something new each time. And 30 years later, I’ve changed my mind.”
(click here to continue reading The Breakfast Club 30 years later, how culture has changed – Chicago Tribune.)