If you are the child of a baby boomer, born sometime between, say 1965 and 1980, chances are, the films of John Hughes played a fairly decent-sized role in your adolescence. He passed yesterday at age 59.
Hughes was the man behind Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Home Alone, Weird Science, Planes Trains & Automobiles, The Great Outdoors, Uncle Buck, Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink. Some of these movies he directed, some he wrote, and in some cases, he turned in screenplays under the nom de plume Edmond Dantes (the protagonist of The Count of Monte Cristo).
These were some of the defining movies of the 80’s and they created a generation of stars that became known as the Brat Pack, our generation’s version of the screen idols our parents watched in their formative years. Hughes gave us star-making performances from Judd Nelson, Bill Paxton, Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Anthony Michael Hall, Matthew Broderick and of course, John Candy.
Hughes had the perfect ear for teen dialog and really understood the fact that deep down, all high school kids were scared to death that they were alone and that there was something wrong with them. This authenticity was what made 1985’s The Breakfast Club so timeless, as evidenced by the trailer above. High school kids today, 25 years later, are able to get past the dated clothes and hairstyles to watch and be encouraged by this film.
There was one character, however, that broke the Hughes mold. He was the opposite of all the others, not a trace of fear or self-doubt, and he was by far my favorite. Here is AICN’s Massawyrm on Ferris Bueller:
(Ferris Bueller was) his super hero. His teenage James Bond. Ferris Bueller. Of course rather than the ability to fly or super strength or invulnerability to bullets, Ferris had a power that made him a god amongst high school students. Self confidence. He wasn’t afraid of anything. Everything he tried he was successful at. People loved him. Every girl wanted him and every boy wanted to be him. But even then Hughes was smart enough to make him best friends with one of Hughes most dysfunctional characters ever, Cameron. And through Ferris and Cameron’s adventures, he illustrated the secret of life – that with the right amount of self-confidence and bullsh*t, you can accomplish anything.
Thank you John Hughes and godspeed…we’ll miss you.