[Spotlight] Back to the Eighties

“Here is a list of films you may want to consider watching,” said the email from a work contact, following an unexpected, in-depth and enjoyable conversation about everything from classic comics to the Twilight series. “There are others but these are the ones I’d start with – keep in mind that they are 1980s teen movies but the point is, they don’t make teen films like this now!”

What was on the list? Three films from the legendary American writer and director John Hughes: The Breakfast Club, Weird Science and Pretty in Pink.

Did you watch them? Four months after receiving that email I have finally been able to do so, thanks to LOVEFiLM and already owning a copy of The Breakfast Club.

What’s the verdict? The email was right – they certainly don’t make teen films like this today, and more’s the pity that they don’t…

Not a fan

Regular readers of my blog will know that I tend to shy away from certain genres, preferring films from the sci-fi, fantasy and action genres instead. Like horror films, which I  actively avoid, teen movies are not something that you would find me watching.

Perhaps it’s my age or because I’m British – I can’t think of any British teen movies apart from The Inbetweeners Movie; the majority are American and set in high schools – but teen movies just don’t do anything for me. I find them samey, cringe-worthy and lacking substance.

Saying that, using Wikipedia to refresh my mind on some recent teen films, there are some that I do like; I gave Easy A a solid four stars when I watched it for the first time recently and Superbad is quite a giggle, but are they unique among a sea of American PieHigh School Musical and Twilight style films?

Teen films that are set in the present day reflect the mindset of the audience that they’re intended for, hence why a multitude of British teens could relate to the lads in The Inbetweeners Movie having their first trip abroad, chasing girls and clubbing all night – ever seen the BBC’s Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents? Trust me, 9 times out of 10 the things that these kids get up to are the epitome of cringe-worthy…

Converted?

Whether teenagers in the 1980s had different interests to today’s 13 to 18-year-olds, the three films that my work contact suggested had very different plots to today’s teen films Well, there is a scene in Weird Science where the two protagonists get rather tipsy, something that happens a lot in contemporary teen films, but that’s more of an opportunistic event, not because it was just a Saturday night.

Today, where a teen would profess their unconditional, eternal, OTT love for another (Twilight), there were two teens attempting to create their perfect woman, with hilarious consequences (Weird Science) instead. Where a teen would rethink their whole appearance to try and ‘fit in’ and get the boy (Mean Girls), there was a strong girl standing up for herself and giving the object of affection a right mouthful (Pretty in Pink). Where there was singing to reveal your emotions (High School Music), there was just straightforward talking (The Breakfast Club).

While I didn’t fall head of heels for any of them – they’re all solid 3½ stars out of five for me – they did make me rethink the genre somewhat, opening my eyes to a world outside of contemporary teen films. They certainly made me agree that they don’t make them like they used to. For one, I actually took an interest in some of the characters!

………………

The Breakfast Club (1985)
Dir: John Hughes
Writer: John Hughes
Starring:  Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald
My rating: ★★★½

Weird Science (1985)
Dir: John Hughes
Writer: John Hughes
Starring: Anthony Michael Hall, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, Kelly LeBrock
My rating: ★★★½

Pretty in Pink  (1986)
Dir: Howard Deutch
Writer: John Hughes
Starring: Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer, Andrew McCarthy
My rating: ★★★½

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4 thoughts on “[Spotlight] Back to the Eighties”

  1. Still not have seen Pretty in Pink, but I remember Weird Science as an enjoyable movie and The Breakfast Club was interesting, although it didn’t blew me away (saw it only a few years ago)

  2. All three are classics, and a staple of my teenage years … as for teen movies that are realistic, or accurate representations – and thus, more like John Hughes versions of teenagers, I suggest seeing The Spectacular Now. I was thoroughly impressed with the film, and performances by the leads. Good post!

  3. Great to hear you enjoyed some of my favourite teen movies from the 1980s Claire! For me, all three are classics, each proving its longevity by their popularity 30 years after release. The Breakfast Club is the quintessential teen movie of the period and such an influential film. I love the fact it is set in a single day in a single location – the stage lends itself to such an intimate representation of these characters. Weird Science was the first of the three I saw and remains a favourite; Pretty in Pink was the last of the three I saw and I think it’s Molly Ringwald’s best performance.

    Two other must-sees – Molly Ringwald is back for another Hughes classic in the delightful Sixteen Candles. Also try the darkly comic Savage Steve Holland film starring John Cusack Better Off Dead, and Rob Reiner’s seminal The Sure Thing.

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