How well has “The Breakfast Club” aged? I watched it with my teenage son to find out.

April 18, 2016 – 03:48 pm
The Breakfast Club (1985) Directed by John Hughes Shown on poster, clockwise from top: Judd Nelson (as John Bender), Emilio Estevez (as Andrew ‘Andy’ Clark), Molly Ringwald (as Claire Standish), Anthony Michael Hall (as Brian Ralph Johnson), Ally Sheedy (as Allison Reynolds).

When I was a freshman in college in the 1980s, I went to an annual showing of “Rebel Without A Cause, ” which was hailed as the first major film to capture teen angst. And I laughed my ass off at how unintentionally funny it was. The film was clearly very dated, and outside of Sal Mineo’s character, it was tough to identify with anything going on.

I certainly didn’t think it was as good as, say, “The Breakfast Club”:
This past weekend marked the 30th anniversary of the defining teen-angst film of the 1980s — which means that we are currently as far removed from “The Breakfast Club” as people in 1985 were from “Rebel Without A Cause.” Was it possible that modern teens would laugh at “The Breakfast Club” the same way that I laughed at “Rebel Without A Cause”?

There was only one way to be sure. I asked my 14-year old son, Sam, to watch the film with me. He was the perfect subject. The characters in “The Breakfast Club” went to a large suburban high school; so does my son. The characters in “The Breakfast Club” offered their unfiltered opinions about a lot of things; so does my son.

He read the plot description on Amazon Prime: “Saturday detention? That seems harsh.”

I took notes and steeled myself for mockery as we sat down to watch it. Here are my findings:


I am happy to report to Generation Xers that at the end of the film, Sam described it as both “entrancing” and “well-acted.” He appreciated how his first perceptions of the characters — particularly Judd Nelson’s Bender — changed as the film progressed. As the son of a geek, it was not surprising that he identified most closely with Anthony Michael Hall’s Brian Johnson. He certainly empathized with the common lament among the film’s characters that their parents understood them.

Like his old man (who was captain of his high school math team back in the day), Sam further agreed that it was completely outrageous that Ally Sheedy’s Allison and Emilio Estevez’s Andrew paired up. Obviously, Allison should have been with Anthony Michael Hall’s Brian.


While “The Breakfast Club” has fared better, it doesn’t emerge in 2015 completely unscathed.


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