The Brat Pack: “The Breakfast Club”
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What do a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and criminal all have in common? Outside of being the foundation for one of the greatest high school films to date, as well as one of the most memorable movies in John Hughes’ repertoire, each one of these people represents pieces of our whole selves. In high school, anyway. Remembering John Hughes
For those of you who haven’t seen The Breakfast Club, a movie about a mish-mash of teens stuck with each other during Saturday detention, but it’s also so much more.
Growing up, most of us dealt with similar issues in high school: Parents, teachers, getting good grades, fitting in life was hard enough without having to deal with detention. Enter “The Breakfast Club,” a group of five very different students who have to serve a Saturday morning detention at Shermer High School. There’s Claire, the “princess”; state champion wrestler Andrew Clarke ; the bookish Brian Johnson (AKA “The Brain”); reclusive weirdo/basket case Allison Reynolds; and the rebellious “criminal,” John Bender. They all gather in the high school library, where they reported to assistant principal Richard Vernon. Vernon embodied everything you hated about authority: Rude, ego-tripping and condescending (as if detentions weren’t bad enough). He assigns the group a 1,000-word essay, in which each must describe, “Who you think you are.”
For the most part, though, Vernon abandons his post, leaving the students that while not complete strangers, come from completely different cliques. Time seemingly passes slow and everyone begins to talk, argue and pick at each other till viola(!) everyone goes on a crazy mission to get some “grass” from our token bad boys locker.
And just like with any other doobie session everyone begins to open up to each other, revealing their deepest personal secrets and realizing that even with their differences, they all faced similar pressures and fears, and that they weren’t that different from each other after all. And in that moment that’s exactly how you feel like maybe we’re really not all that different, maybe we all belong because no one does, that we are all kind of in this together.
As the day progressed, everyone started opening up to each other. Claire showed Allison just how pretty she really is with some sprucing up, and in turn Allison ends up catching Andrew’s eye. Then Claire decides to break her “pristine” virgin facade and gives Bender a hickey from inside a closet.
Then as detention draws to a close, the group asks Brian to complete the essay for everyone. Brian agrees, leaving the essay in the library for Vernon to read after they leave. Even though the students suspect that their relationships would end along with their detention, the opposite happens. Allison and Andrew kiss, as do Claire and John. Allison rips Andrew’s state champion patch from his letterman jacket to keep, and Claire gives John one of her diamond earrings, which he attaches to his earlobe.
Then we flash to Mr.Vernon reading the groups essay as Brian reads it in voice-over. In the essay, Brian states that Vernon has already judged who they are, “in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions: a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal.” The letter is signed off , from “The Breakfast Club.” And as the movie ends, Bender walks across the football field, raising his fist in triumph. And just like that, all the pieces of our high school selves get to stick it to the man!
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