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Breakfast Club, The Print E-mail
Wednesday, 29 April 1998

The Breakfast Club

Universal Home Video
MPAA rating: R
starring: Emilio Estevez, Paul Gleason, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy
release year: 1985
film rating: Three Stars
sound/picture: Three Stars
reviewed by: Abbie Bernstein

‘The Breakfast Club,’ as most folks know, is director/writer John Hughes’ tale of five disparate high school students who bond during a nine-hour Saturday detention period. Andy the jock (Emilio Estevez), Brian the brain (Anthony Michael Hall), John the delinquent (Judd Nelson), Claire the princess (Molly Ringwald) and Allison the kook (Ally Sheedy) imagine they have nothing in common. However, as they first pick on each other over perceived defects, slights and in reaction to attacks, they start to open un and eventually bond.

‘The Breakfast Club’ touched a lot of people in its day – it gets three stars for its undeniable effect on a large portion of the audience. However, if one isn’t prepared to surrender to Hughes’ universe on its own terms, the movie can seem like the equivalent of the ordeal facing its characters. While the dialogue is sometimes quotably funny – this is where "demented and sad, but social" comes from – it also has a slightly manufactured quality. Hughes sometimes goes for verisimilitude and sometimes for the sort of broad-stroke perceptions his characters wind up condemning; the tone contradicts itself.

Pacing is also a problem. We understand that John is meant to compulsively buck authority, but a nose-to-nose with the teacher (Paul Gleason) in charge of the detention seems to go on forever. On the other hand, Hughes does exceptionally well with moments where characters pause before launching into stinging rebuttals. These bouts of calm-before-the-storm tension are some of ‘Club’s best, most lifelike moments.

Those who have hazy memories of seeing the film in its original theatrical release and/or from its publicity may want to remember that the scenes of the characters frolicking are mainly in Chapter 15 – there are a few races through the hallways, but most of ‘The Breakfast Club’ really does take place in the detention hall. Here we learn that the best way to make friends is to start by mercilessly ragging on other people’s shortcomings. The relationship that grows between John and Claire is frankly (if mildly) unpleasant. Teenaged girls have enough emotional problems without the suggestion that true love takes the form of a boy who tells you again and again that you’re a horrible person, and that listening to this will eventually lead to improvement. Yes, Claire is a bit of a bitch, very well played by Ringwald, but she gets virtually no verbal reassurance from anyone. Her eventual warming-up toward everyone else seems more Stockholm Syndrome than actual friendship.

The quiet psychodrama in Chapter 14, as each of the kids spill their guts in turn, actually has some powerful moments, if one can accept the notion that everyone would open up in pretty much the same way at the same time. Then again, bending to peer pressure is a problem that most of the characters acknowledge, so it makes sense in that light.

Sound on the DVD is excellent, with ringing crystal tones on the Simple Minds tune "Don’t You" that begins and ends the film. Dialogue blends well with the sound effects.

For some people, ‘The Breakfast Club’ is a perfect teen comedy/drama. For others, it’s just a relic of its age.

more details
sound format:
English Dolby Digital Two-Channel Mono; Spanish Dolby Digital Two-Channel Mono; French Dolby Digital Two-Channel Mono
aspect ratio(s):
special features: Production Notes; Cast and Filmmaker Biographies; English Closed-Captioning; Spanish Subtitles; Chapter Search
comments: email us here...
reference system
DVD player: Kenwood DV-403
receiver: Kenwood VR-407
main speakers: Paradigm Atom
center speaker: Paradigm CC-170
rear speakers: Paradigm ADP-70
subwoofer: Paradigm PDR-10
monitor: 27-inch Toshiba

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