Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Breakfast Club

In 1985 I was a year away from dropping out of college, drunk almost nightly, trying to forget where I was from and where I was soon to return. I didn’t know who I was, but I knew who I didn’t want to be. Tied by an invisible tether to my father, a man who would divorce and marry still another time, gambling on a better future at the expense of the time, destined to repeat—and to be alone with his memories of a wasted past.

With this as my backdrop, movies were my escape. Movies and books. A hero always knew what to do, always said the right thing at the right time. It was kind of depressing now that I think about it, living up to an impossible ideal. The teen movies of the time were all about sexual immortals to whom intercourse was a simple matter of choosing who, but never a question of if. For me it was more like if ever.

Then along came John Hughes, the writer, director and producer of The Breakfast Club. He had already brought us Vacation and Sixteen Candles at the time, and would continue with other brilliant films such as Weird Science and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but The Breakfast Club in my humble opinion was his best work.

He brings together five entirely different stereotypes of high school students in a Saturday detention at the school library—the rich and popular girl, the jock, the outcast, the pot-smoking rebel, and the bookworm. Only the jock and the princess run with the same crowd at school, but social boundaries cannot withstand the deluge of commonality.

Each of them is challenged by one another, until layer after layer is peeled back to expose a frightened and vulnerable person who is afraid to stand alone. Each is tortured by the hopes and dreams—and apathy—of their parents. In the end they are bonded, as if the intensity of the day had melted all social constraint, leaving them stuck together like a smoking mound of cooling lava. We are left with a glimmer of hope as Claire gives Bender one of her earrings as a token of her commitment to the future.

That’s where the fairy tale ends, and well it probably should. John Hughes has been approached for a sequel, but he declines:

"I know everybody would love to watch it. But I'm too fond of those characters," Hughes said. "I thought about it. I could do it in prose. I know what will happen to them. I know them. But to do it with real actors - with Molly and Judd and Ally - they'd never come back together again. There's no excuse that could ever put them in the same room ever again. There isn't anything in their lives after high school relevant to that day...It's like Ferris Bueller. You don't want to see him today. You'd hate him. He'd either be a bum or a politician."

So that is the question: What happens to the characters on Monday? The logical conclusion in my mind is that things eventually return to what they were before. One day won’t erase a lifetime of programming. The outcasts had nothing to lose, but eventually they will succumb. Claire will try to avoid John in the halls, but John Bender will press the issue with her, to the point where Andrew will step in on her behalf. Actually, this changes things a little, because I can envision the two becoming friends again. I don’t see Claire ever coming around. Brian, the brain, will say hi in the halls, but when met with tepid responses from Claire and Andrew, will wilt back into his place. How do you find common ground for all these disparate characters? We know that they all suffer from oppressive parenting, but what else could draw them together that would be strong enough to overcome the pressures of their peers?

The sequel I think would have to take place far into the future, after Claire has a couple children with a frustrated ex-jock who can’t make ends meet, after Brian has leveraged his education into a lucrative career, perhaps as a CEO of an internet company that IPOed for huge money, after Andrew’s knee finally did blow out in college leaving him with nothing but a bad drug habit and imagined enemies. Ally Sheedy though, she grew up nicely. She really was a transformed beauty after the movie, and regardless of whether or not she was accepted for her transformation, she was truly transformed inside. She gained confidence and became an actress of school plays, and eventually joined a comedy troupe. Later in life she finds Andrew and finds that both of them have changed places in life. Bender realizes after high school that he has nothing, and will amount to nothing. He has it out with his father, and realizes he has to leave the house on his own. At this moment he realizes the futility of his situation and digs in deep and finds strength. He takes a job as a mechanic, the only skill that he has. He crosses paths with Brian, who commissions him to build a custom car for him.

How do they come together, all of them? I don’t know yet. But let me pose that question to you, my dear readers. Give me your take on the future. How can we put them back together in a believable fashion? I want to propose to Mr. Hughes that there is a way.


Ultra Toast Mosha God said...


I don't think it is possible.

The only way to do it would be to have them in run-of-the-mill jobs, attending their high school reunion.

They might head by their old classroom and reminisce about old times.

I would have Judd Nelsons character killed off for added weight.

Estevez would be a high school football coach. One of the others would have to be a teacher.


I don't want to see it happen, truth be told.

The risk of the sequel being bad is too great a risk to take. I like the movie in isolation, as it is.

Scott said...

Toast - I hear what you are saying, but I want to play around with the idea. I'm thinking along the lines of similar theme. Where are we in our adult lives that we don't want outsiders in. The shift the roles, where the previous outsiders are now inside with the power to bring the others in, but would suffer for it.

magnetbabe said...

I agree with toast. It shouldn't be done. Too risky.

I think the way Hughes meant the movie to be was that you could attend your own high school reunion and find out the answers...

Toni Anderson said...

Hmmm. A high school reunion would be too twee.

A funeral would be good. The teacher? Or one of them? A parent? Would they come together for that? Maybe that would be too sad--a growing up version of the Big Chill.

Demolishing the school to build a new one/sell off the land? Would they remember their school days with fondness because sometimes being a kid isn't as bad as we think it is at the time? Maybe Judd is demolishing it? Maybe he has risen through the ranks and owns a construction company.

I can see Sheedy as an actress.
I hope Andrew would get out and end up doing something he wants to do, but then I always like stories of redemption. He'd make a good cop in a story.

OK must go write and fall under the hammer of self doubt when that story is such simple genius.

mr. schprock said...

Can't one of them become president and bring all the rest into his or her administration? Maybe it could be The Liquid Lunch Club.

OK, I admit it, I've never watched the movie all the way through — I just wanted to leave a comment. Is that so wrong?

trinamick said...

I'm fond of The Breakfast Club too, though I prefer Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I don't think it would be right to bring them back together. Somehow, it would just spoil the illusion.

Erin-erin-bo-berin said...

Sorry to date myself, but I was 10 when Breakfast Club was released. I had no idea what 'cliques' were in those innocent days. When I grew into a teenager, I made it my purpose to cross all social lines. Too bad no one else got my idea...

I agree with Toni. Maybe a funeral or the closing of the school would be the time to reunite them. I also agree with Mr. Hughes when he says that those kids would never really come together again. They'd probably avoid each other.

Jada's Gigi said...

I don't want to go there. It should stand just as it is....sorry, Scott :)

NYPinTA said...

Hmmm... the circumstances that bring them back together would have to be either tragic, or enigmatic. A funeral, but for which one? Which BC member meant enough to the others to get them all to show for a funeral?
The enigmatic approach could simply be that each gets an invitation to a weekend get away that coincides with their 30 HS reunion by MA Hall's character, who is undoubtedly rich at this point and annoyed that none of the others had ever shown up for the other reunions. Or something.
There isn't a way that I can think of to get them together again by coincidence or chace without it being too contrived.
In the first movie, they had all been forced together because they had each made mistakes. In any continuation of the story, it might be that they all regret choices made and the mysterious invitation is something that they see as a chance to maybe fix a few things.

Eh. Or not.

Bailey Stewart said...

I think you are correct in your thinking about what happened Monday. As far as their getting together later - the funeral thing sounds too much like The Big Chill, although those people came together on purpose. You could have it start at a funeral where some of them show up - maybe having read it in the newspaper. At the funeral, they start talking about the others and eventually they decide to search out the absent schoolmates themselves. Maybe they plan a reunion just for them at the school (Hall being wealthy now, he could do it). I know what you are saying about playing with it. Not necessarily for a Hughes reunion, but for research for a story of your own. I say go for it.

Moni said...

I agree with Toni, a death rings familiar with the Big Chill. I don't really think they could be brought back together again as a group, but maybe on a one to one basis.

Or, maybe they could each be surfing the net and come across Class Mates.com. I was able to get in touch with a friend I hadn't see since junior high, now that's a long time. :)

They could each agree to meet at a certain place at a certain time; just them, thus avoiding the awkwardness of attending a high school reunion.

I think a group that is thrown into any type of adversity looses it's differences and sews a common human thread.

Nice lengthening of the story line Scott, I like it. ;)

Scott said...

Natalie - Perhaps that is what Hughes intended, but these kids rose above social boundaries and are bigger than normal. I feel compelled to explore this.

Toni - Thanks for taking this seriously. Man do I ever know what you mean about the simple genius of this story. Great observation, and lesson. If it's out of control, maybe it's not right. The simplest of anything, be it music or stories, are usually the best.

Mr. Schprock - I'm pretty sure that's whacked! Nice try though.

Trina - That's the challenge, to cast a true light on the situation and still manage to have that same feel good ending.

Erin - I think Hughes could do it if he put his mind to work on it. Maybe he'll read my blog and decide that now is the time!

Cheryl - Don't be sorry, but please be wrong!

NYPinta - I think you have something there. It all has to be real. I like the idea that Brian is annoyed that nobody ever came to the reunions. He would see the removal of the high school strata as an opportunity to get them back together, but of course now life has scattered them across the states.

Eve - Thanks for the support on this. I do want to play with it, and will continue to do so. It may be just for practice, but it's something I would love to do. Maybe the reunion could be a chance for just two of them to meet. Perhaps Estevez and Sheedy, but Sheedy stays in the shadows as Esteves looks around for any of them and is disappointed to see no one. She follows him, using her skills as an erstwhile thief. Perhaps she is a professional thief now, or works for the CIA. Who knows?

Moni - I found friends on Classmates too, even friends that went to different high schools. That's a great idea. The common thread here would be bond that never shook totally loose from that Saturday detention.

Kathleen said...

I have to agree with Trina on this, although I prefer Breakfast Club to Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Besides I sometimes like to believe in fairy tales which means that Bender & Clare walk proudly into school on Monday together. Yeah, I know. I'm a goofball.

Sadie Lou said...

Whoa. Cool post. I, too, adored John Huges movies--especially The Breakfast Club.
I want you to write the sequel and pitch it; now!
I would totally go see it.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

I watched an episode from season 2 of 'Family Guy' last night.

It made me think of you.

They parody 'The Breakfast Club' with popular cereal mascots.

Tony the Tiger: "For my birthday, dad gave me a whole pack of cigarette and said "Smoke these. They're great".