It says plenty that “The Breakfast Club
” may be director John Hughes’ most iconic slice of ‘80s-era filmmaking. The Hughes Decade also delivered “Pretty in Pink, “Sixteen Candles” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” but the director’s take on teen angst, detention style, stands as his hallmark achievement. No singing on floats, forgotten birthdays or Ducky. Just five teens talking about their bruised feelings for 90-plus minutes.
And you’ll hang on nearly every word while watching the new Blu-ray release of “The Breakfast Club: The 25th Anniversary Edition.”
The story’s setting strips matters down to the bare essentials. Five disparate teens are forced to spend time together in a Saturday detention hall. Each represents a high school stereotype, from the no-account thug (Judd Nelson) to the rosy-cheeked princess (Molly Ringwald).
Naturally, they bicker from the start, but their conversations wear down each others’ defenses. They poke and prod each other verbally, their faces registering every direct hit.
Few directors can orchestrate a youthful cast quite like Hughes, who helped steer his actors to arguably their best screen work to date. Watching Judd Nelson's performance as Bender with fresh eyes is to mourn that the actor's follow-up work rarely matched the intensity - and pain - on display here.
Meanwhile the adult on the scene, played by the late Paul Gleason, feeds into every fear a teen might have about authority figures.
Some dialogue snippets are so rooted in the era they can’t help but collapse under the weight of those 25 years. Yes, I’m talking about “neo maxi zoom dweebie,” a putdown that hit its expiration date 24.5 years ago. And the final ten minutes attempts to reconcile some of the character friction in ways that still don’t make a lick of sense.
The Blu-ray extras will give fans more than they ever wanted to know about the film … and then some.
Several cast members, including Nelson, Ally Sheedy and Anthony Michael Hall, reflect on the film’s shoot as well as its mercurial creator.
Some of the most profound comments come from people influenced by the Hughes canon. Consider director Michael Lehmann of “Heathers” fame - “John never really grew up. He knew that when you’re an adolescent the world is centered on what you’re going through.”
John Kapelos who played “Carl the Janitor,” seconds that emotion: “[John was] not too far apart emotionally from the teenagers.”
Oscar winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (“Juno”) explains why Hughes’s musical selections still matter.
“The songs themselves are not super cutting edge, but they’re used so well .. The timing is impeccable,” Cody says.
As complete as the Blu-ray presentation is, it’s hard not to wish Hughes himself would chime in on the film’s behalf. But even if he were still alive, the reclusive auteur would likely let his friends and colleagues speak for him - and the film itself.