Demented And Sad But Social – John Hughes Breakast Club Tribute By Flux in LA
By Ali MacLean
By all outward accounts, I lived a charmed high school existence. An A student with long honey colored hair, I played soccer and was captain of the cheerleading squad. We even competed at a national level, which got our picture on the front page of the Boston Globe sports section and on national television. So, I had it pretty sweet. Right? Yeah, right.
Anyone who has seen a John Hughes movie knows the halls of a high school are shark- infested waters that are difficult to navigate. The same was true for me. I lay awake at night worried about everything from what to where, what was going to be on the test, which bitch would be bothering me in the corridors, who to eat lunch with and other terrors of the high school caste system. At most times I felt like a cast member of Heathers, rather than John’s sweeter films, but having his movies gave me strength.
Sure, other teen film auteurs pointed out that the geeks have a hard time of it in school. But John was one of the first to point out that maybe the Claires of this world had just as miserable an experience as all the other kids. Thank Fucking God someone was reading my diary! You mean I’m not the only one who is moody? It’s ok to be depressed even if you’re sort of smart or pretty or athletic? There are other kids out there feeling ennui of French existentialist proportions? It’s OK to want to blow up your high school with your mind?
Being a cheerleader didn’t really mean anything to me, inwardly. It never occurred to me that I was a popular kid, just like it never occurred to me that other kids were going through the same thing I was. That is, until I saw John’s scripts so eloquently spell it out. Hughes had a knack for getting inside a teen’s head and letting them speak and emote without it sounding like some WB drivel with Paula Cole in the background. Hughes characters, as archetypal as they were drawn to be, were funny, quirky and all too real. It was entirely possible and understandable that I could relate to both Claire AND Alison in the Breakfast Club. OK, I related to Bender, too a little bit. But my rebellion would come a bit later.
Part of Hughes’ talent is that each of his films created characters that everyone could relate to. I felt such a kinship to Samantha in Sixteen Candles, the perennial sophomore whose family doesn’t seem to recognize her misery and pining for Jake Ryan. Or, what seemed like an even bigger crime, they forget to recognize her own birthday, a horror that I’ve over compensated for in such an extreme, that I demand that my birthday be relegated to national holiday status by all friends and family. No, really. October 14th. Mark it down.
Another Molly I related to was crafty Andie. Growing up in posh Newton, it was pretty easy to feel if you were from the wrong side of the tracks. Basically if you didn’t get a new beemer for your sweet sixteen, you were poor. All the Esprit in the world couldn’t save me from my fate. So I started thrifting at an early age. My friend Rima and I would hang out in Harvard Square and pick up strange bohemian trinkets and later fashion them into jewelry. Soon enough I was sporting torn jeans and army fatigues and wearing combat boots with my cheerleading skirt. That didn’t go down well with the Heathers. But what they thought didn’t matter. I would think of Andie with her shears cutting away at pink tulle, dreaming of a boy named after an appliance and trying to gently let down the best friend. It is a triangle scenario that would reappear many times for me in the future: the seemingly unattainable guy who actually might like me vs. the platonic friend who makes me laugh, who might not be so platonic. Decisions are tough but what’s important is that it’s handled with grace…
Possibly my first Hughes obsession during my childhood was Ferris Bueller. I must have seen that movie ten times in the theater and countless times on cable. Partially the mystique was Broderick’s winsome ability to get away with murder and a bit of it was probably the movie’s ability to annoy my parents who were school administrators and professors. Of course, years later, my father admits Jeffrey Jones was probably the best teen comedy foil ever put on film. I have to agree. While I rooted fro Ferris every bounce, wink and mile clocked on the alpha, I do admit I connected deeply to the oft irritated sister Jeannie. Who hasn’t felt a sibling rivalry ratcheted up to a frenzied pitch? OK perhaps the zany parade hijacking and jailhouse scenes may have been omitted from your own family tales but I felt for Jeannie, the least liked Bueller family member. Ferris was just so fun, so popular, so friendly. And Jeannie…wasn’t. Playing by the rules got her nowhere and whining about it got her nowhere fast. Even her cat and mouse game of getting even didn’t pan out. I feel for you Jeannie. Even when I wasn’t the one in the wrong, I was the one sent to my room.
However, the film that everyone comes back to…the one that was recently aped by a documentary film’s ad campaign (American Teen) is The Breakfast Club. The idea of detention is a bummer. But detention on a Saturday? With a bunch of kids not in your clique? I mean, omigawd! Part of what makes the pathos so strong is that though the characters are stereotypes, they are fully drawn out. How else could I be each of these people? I certainly was seen by some to be the bitchy popular girl, Claire. But I identified with the Zeppelin flannel wearing burn-outs like Bender. They probably were the first to listen to grunge! Who hasn’t felt isolated and alone like Allison at some point in their life? I’m most definitely competitive and as a cheerleader competing at a national level, I could relate to Andy’s pressure to win. I even felt the enormous pressure the geek, Brian felt. Not to make a science project or lamp work. But taking Latin classes before school to boost my SAT scores didn’t really do anything for my street cred.
Tomorrow night in Hollywood, the FLUX film series at the Montalban will allow us all to once again become the Jock, the Princess, the Brain, the Criminal and the Basket Case.
In a tribute to John Hughes, guests are being asked to email in photos of themselves from high school and are encouraged to dress in their most fabulous 80s outfit for the screening. Some of use will pull our cloths out of mothballs and others will go over to Urban Outfitters and buy new versions of 80’s disasters that never should have been re-created. Or created in the first place.
A slide show of the emailed high school pictures will be projected through out the night.
This special evening is part of Cinema Tuesdays, a monthly series curated by Flux celebrating innovative film at The Montalbán, Nike Sportswears unique retail and special events theatre in Hollywood.
Tuesday August 25th, 2009
8PM Screening + After-party with Lady Sinclair and cocktails by Belvedere Macerated.
Nike Sportswear at The Montalbán
1615 Vine Street