The Breakfast Club Parent Review
What do you get when you combine a Brain, an Athlete, a Princess, a Criminal and a Basket Case? You get the characters of The Breakfast Club—the popular 1985 teen-angst film, written and directed by John Hughes.
The script brings five stereotypical high school students together to serve a detention on a cloudy Saturday morning in March. Although these diverse kids are aware of each other’s existence, none are friends. All they really know about one another is what clique they belong to: Polite and people-pleasing Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall) pulls grades that keep his name on the honor roll. The muscular Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez) has the promise of being a star wrester, just like his monogrammed jacket advertises. Beautiful and stylish Clair Standish (Molly Ringwald) is the girl most likely to be voted prom queen. Her antithesis, John Bender (Judd Nelson) is insolent, scruffy, and a good candidate to be incarcerated for illegal possession. And then there’s the easily overlooked Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy) who is so crazy and reclusive that she doesn’t even bother to talk—although she sometimes grunts.
Starting at 7 AM, the group meets in the library to await their punishment from Mr. Vernon (Paul Gleason), which turns out to be a thousand-word-essay about “who they think they are.” This exercise in self-reflection also comes with the command not to talk, sleep, or move from their seats until they have finished the full term of their sentence at 4 PM.
The rules are entirely unreasonable, a fact even the autocratic Vernon realizes, but he evokes the strict conditions anyway, assuming they will keep the students under control while he sort of supervises them from his office across the hall. Bender, of course, immediately challenges his authority, which results in a one-upping war of insults and threats. When Vernon (uncertain of his victory) finally does leave them to govern themselves, the hostile Bender turns his bad attitude on his fellow felons, with a litany of foul language, sexual comments and physical violence. (At one point he even pulls out a switchblade, but no injuries occur). Like the angry administrator, the teens fire back with their own profanities, finger gestures and nasty remarks.
These tensions make for a long morning (and a tedious sit for the audience), however the pace picks up around lunch hour when the crew takes fieldtrips (some sanctioned and others not) around the campus. On one of theses excursions, Bender retrieves a bag of drugs from his locker. Once it is smuggled back to the library, a few of the kids smoke joints. Perhaps the marijuana is the catalyst that finally gets the teens talking to each other (the plot doesn’t really offer a better explanation).
During the lengthy conversation that ensues, each of the characters opens up and shares the trials and sorrows of their personal lives. The greatest secret to be reveled is that they have more in common than any of them thought. Whether popular or outcast, rich or poor, talented or challenged, all of them have experienced disappointments, problems with parents and self-esteem issues. Seeing each other stripped of the labels they have been using to hide behind, the teens suddenly have a different perspective of who they really are. They also have a new name to describe one another—friends.
It is this message that has kept people coming back to The Breakfast Club, and turned the film into a classic movie. And while it is a worthy theme, viewers should be aware that in order get there they will have to endure frequent sexual expletives, pervasive profanities, crass sexual discussions, crude slang terms, glamorized rebellious behavior, illegal drug use by minors, as well as references to suicide, physical abuse and alcoholism. It’s a list so lengthy that it might feel as long as the students’ nine-hour detention.Directed by John Hughes. Starring Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, Anthony Michael Hall. Running time: 97 minutes. Theatrical release February 15, 1995. Updated March 10, 2015
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in The Breakfast Club here.
The Breakfast Club Parents Guide
Talk about the movie with your family…
What do you think this movie is trying to say when it begins with a quote from musician David Bowie:
“And these children
That you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations.
They’re quite aware
Of what they’re going through.
Writer and director John Hughes has been lauded for this movie’s portrayal of teen issues. How do you feel about the serious way he depicts the various characters’ problems. Do you relate to any of them? Does he offer any hope for other teens facing such issues? Why is there no mention of getting help from adults? How are the adult characters portrayed in this movie?
As the students come to better understand each other, they start to have feelings of empathy for one another. Do you think they will remain friends? Do you think that such support could change the behavior of someone like Bender? How might Bender’s comfort with illegal activities affect the others?
Each of the students identifies with a certain clique. Why? Do these groups help or hinder them? How do expectations from peers and parents impact the decisions these teens are making? Do you also feel that pressure?
Have you ever wondered where The Breakfast Club is now? Check here:
More About the Movie: In celebration of The Breakfast Club’s 30th anniversary, and its arrival on home video (Blu-ray), the movie will be playing in limited theaters. Also on limited screens is The Breakfast Club Featurette. According to the Canadian Film Classification Boards, this16-minute-long mini-documentary contains: - Seven instances of coarse language. - Scene of drug use involving marijuana. - Brief non-explicit violence. - Embracing and kissing. - Tobacco use/smoking. - Alcohol abuse.