This is one of my all time favorite movies, I bet I have seen it at least 50 times since I was teenager. It still reflects today, 25yrs later, the same feelings and issues teenagers feel. Time, styles, eras, your parents don’t change that. The Breakfast Club, a 1980 John Hughes teenage movie classic that shows us the feelings associated with growing up. This film could be mistaken for just another teen film, but I don’t think that is what the writer was going for. These students from different socio-economic backgrounds were thrust in with one another against their will.
This caused them to face their own bigotry, insecurities, and intermost feelings. They were forced to take a hard look at their values as they deal with one another’s dysfunctions while confined on a Saturday serving a detention at their local high school. We can all learn from their experience. Like most of us, each of the characters from the movie, came from a different world view. Wealthy privileged individuals, like Clair, whose own perspective was entitlement, everything owed to her, seems as if she has it all together, while in truth she has sufferings of her own.
Clair’s alcoholic mother, was a sore point with her and her anger became apparent when John mentions her. The financially less fortunate John, who was an abused child is filled with resentment over his life circumstances and social standing. He blames people like Claire because they have what he wants, what he feels he is missing out on and deserves also. We meet Brian, whose own intelligence is circumvented by pressure from his parents to always succeed. This pressure brings him to a point where he considers suicide. He just wants to be himself.
Andrew is an athlete, but the decision to be a wrestler was actually his father’s. Eager to please him, as most children are, Andrew even went so far as to injure another student to impress the, “old man”, as he refer to his father. As Allison, the “weird” one points out, he can’t think for himself. Allison joins the club, not because she has earned a detention, but because she is unloved, ignored at home. Mix these things with an aging teacher who has lost his love, not only for teaching, but for the students under his care and you have the Breakfast Club.
The controversy continues until the group has a run in with the detention supervisor who bullies them and as punishment, demands that they each write an essay telling him “who they think they are”. With a common enemy they begin to explore each other further and each person reveals why he received detention. As they go deeper into each others lives and feelings, they are shocked to discover that the most popular girl resents her popularity and is not only a virgin, but a mass of insecurities as well.
They find that tough John has enough love in his heart to sacrifice for himself for the group despite his reputation as a criminal and his abrasive personality. The most poignant moment comes when Brian admits to the group that he would rather kill himself than take a failing grade in shop. We, as a nation have lost too many children to suicide over the issue of grades and how people treat each other and his story really hits home. The issue of peer pressure rears its ugly head as Andrew admits that to impress his own father, he actually taped a kid’s buns together.
He is remorseful enough to reflect on what it must have been like for that boy and his father. The comic bomb is dropped last by Allison that she came to detention because she had nothing better to do. Andrew, intrigued by her, wants to know what awful thing her parents have done to her. Sadly, she tells them that they simply just ignore her. Clair takes Allison in hand and does a quick make-over in the girls bathroom that revealing that Allison’s outer beauty now matches her inner beauty.
Andrew becomes smitten with her, as Clair and John begin to form a bond themselves. The brain, Brian, coerced into writing for the group finishes the essay that they were assigned by saying the following; “… we think you’re crazy to make us write this essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us… in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. That’s the way that they saw themselves at the beginning of the day, but as the day begins to cone to a close, they begin to realize that deep down they share the same fears, triumphs, and insecurities; a common bond with each other they never thought could be there. There is a barrier that exists between people, in children, teenagers, and also adults. It is like baggage, unless some event is experienced which captures truth for a moment, allowing us see that we all are lost in some way or another.
We have a tendency to believe that no one else suffers the way that we do, they don’t face the same trials and struggles, we start to lack compassion. This movie, The Breakfast Club, shows that if we can take our minds off of ourselves, then bridges of understanding can be built, which will bring us closer to one another and understand that everyone is really the same beneath it all. Every person has their own insecurities and we all just want to be excepted by our peers. We wanted to be treated the same regardless of our income, looks, grades, or who are parents are. All people have the same basic need to be loved and liked.