This article is about the 1985 film directed by John Hughes. For other uses, see The Breakfast Club (disambiguation).
The Breakfast Club is a 1985 American coming-of-agecomedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by John Hughes, starring Emilio Estevez, Paul Gleason, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy. The storyline follows five teenagers, each members of different high school cliques, who spend a Saturday in detention together and come to realize that they are all more than their respective stereotypes, while facing a strict disciplinarian.
The film premiered in Los Angeles on February 7, 1985. Universal Pictures released the film in cinemas in the United States on February 15, 1985. It received critical acclaim and earned $51.5 million on a $1 million budget. Critics consider it one of the greatest high school films of all time, as well as one of Hughes' most memorable and recognizable works. The media referred to the film's five main actors as members of a group called the "Brat Pack."
The title comes from the nickname invented by students and staff for morning detention at New Trier High School, the school attended by the son of one of John Hughes' friends. Thus, those who were sent to detention before school starting time were designated members of "The Breakfast Club." In 2016, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
The film was digitally remastered and was re-screened throughout 430 theaters in celebration of its 30th anniversary in 2015.
On Saturday, March 24, 1984, five students report at 7:00 a.m. for all-day detention at Shermer High School in Shermer, Illinois. While not complete strangers, each of them comes from a different clique, and they seem to have nothing in common: the beautiful and pampered Claire Standish, the state champion wrestler Andrew Clark, the geekish intellect Brian Johnson, the introverted outcast Allison Reynolds, and the rebellious delinquent John Bender.
They gather in the high school library, where assistant principal Richard Vernon instructs them not to speak, move from their seats, or sleep until they are released at 3:00 p.m. He assigns them a thousand-word essay, in which each must describe "who you think you are." He then leaves, returning only occasionally to check on them. John, who has a particularly antagonistic relationship with Vernon, ignores the rules and frequently riles up the other students, teasing Brian and Andrew and harassing Claire. Allison is initially quiet, except for an occasional random outburst. Over the course of the day, Vernon gives John several weekends' worth of additional detention and even locks him in a storage closet, but he escapes and returns to the library.
The students pass the hours by talking, arguing, and, at one point, smoking marijuana that John retrieves from his locker. Gradually, they open up to each other and reveal their deepest personal secrets: Allison is a compulsive liar; Andrew cannot easily think for himself; John comes from an abusive household; Brian was planning suicide with a flare gun due to the inability to cope with a bad grade; and Claire is a virgin who feels constant pressure from her friends to be a certain way. They also discover that they all have strained relationships with their parents, which are a key cause for their personal issues as well: Allison's parents ignore her due to their own problems; Andrew's father constantly criticizes his efforts at wrestling and pushes him as hard as possible; John's father verbally and physically abuses him; Brian's overbearing parents put immense pressure on him to earn high grades; and Claire's parents use her to get back at each other during frequent arguments. The students realize that, even with their differences, they face similar pressures and complications in their lives.
Despite their differences in social status, the group begins to form friendships as the day progresses. Claire gives Allison a makeover, to reveal just how pretty she really is, which sparks romantic interest in Andrew. Claire decides to break her "pristine" virgin appearance by kissing John in the closet and giving him a hickey. Although they suspect that the relationships will end with the end of their detention, their mutual experiences will change the way they look at their peers afterwards.
As the detention nears its end, the group requests that Brian complete the essay for everyone and John returns to the storage closet to fool Vernon into thinking he has not left. Brian writes the essay and leaves it in the library for Vernon to read after they leave. As the students part ways outside the school, 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. Vernon reads the essay (read by Brian in voice-over), in which Brian states that Vernon has already judged who they are, using simple definitions and stereotypes. One by one, the five students' voices add, "But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal." Brian signs the letter as "The Breakfast Club." John raises his fist in triumph as he walks across the school football field toward home.
Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall both starred in Hughes' 1984 film Sixteen Candles. Towards the end of filming, Hughes asked them both to be in The Breakfast Club. Hall became the first to be cast, agreeing to the role of Brian Johnson. Ringwald was originally approached to play the character of Allison Reynolds, but she was "really upset" because she wanted to play Claire Standish. She eventually convinced the director and the studio to give her the part. The role of Allison ultimately went to Ally Sheedy.
Emilio Estevez originally auditioned for the role of John Bender. However, when Hughes was unable to find someone to play Andrew Clarke, Estevez was recast. Nicolas Cage was considered for the role of John Bender, which was the last role to be cast, though the role was narrowed down to John Cusack and Judd Nelson. Hughes eventually cast Cusack, but decided to replace him with Nelson before shooting began, because Cusack did not look threatening enough for the role. At one point, Hughes was disappointed at Nelson because he stayed in character by harassing Ringwald off-camera, and the other actors had to convince Hughes not to fire him.
Rick Moranis was originally cast as the janitor but left due to creative differences and was replaced by John Kapelos.
In 1999, Hughes said that his request to direct the film met with resistance and skepticism because he lacked filmmaking experience. Hughes ultimately convinced the film's investors that due to the modest $1 million budget and its single location shoot, he could greatly minimize their risk. Hughes originally thought that The Breakfast Club would be his directorial debut. Hughes opted for an insular, largely one room set and wrote it about high school students, who would be played by younger actors.
Principal photography began on March 28, 1984, and ended in May. Filming took place at Maine North High School in Des Plaines, Illinois, shuttered in 1981. The same setting was used for interior scenes of Hughes' 1986 film Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which featured exterior shots from nearby Glenbrook North High School. The library at Maine North High School, considered too small for the film, prompted the crew to build the set in the school's gymnasium. The actors rehearsed with each other for three weeks and then shot the film in sequence. On the Ferris Bueller's Day Off DVD commentary (featured on the 2004 DVD version), Hughes revealed that he shot the two films concurrently to save time and money, and some outtakes of both films feature elements of the film crews working on the other film. The first print was 150 minutes in length.
During a cast reunion in honor of the film's 25th anniversary, Ally Sheedy revealed that a Director's Cut existed but Hughes' widow did not disclose any details concerning its whereabouts.
In 2015 the first draft of the film's script was discovered in a Maine South High School cabinet as district employees were moving offices to a new building.
The film's poster, featuring the five characters huddled together, was photographed by Annie Leibovitz toward the end of shooting. The shot of five actors gazing at the camera influenced the way teen films were marketed from that point on. The poster refers to the five "types" of the story using slightly different terms than those used in the film, and in a different sequence, stating "They were five total strangers with nothing in common, meeting for the first time. A brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel and a recluse."
The main theme of the film is the constant struggle of the American teenager to be understood, by adults and by themselves. It explores the pressure put on teenagers to fit into their own realms of high school social constructs, as well as the lofty expectations of their parents, teachers, and other authority figures. On the surface, the students have little in common with each other. However, as the day rolls on, they eventually bond over a common disdain for the aforementioned issues of peer pressure and parental expectations. Stereotyping is another theme. Once the obvious stereotypes are broken down, the characters "empathize with each other's struggles, dismiss some of the inaccuracies of their first impressions, and discover that they are more similar than different."
The main adult character, Mr. Vernon, is not portrayed in a positive light. He consistently talks down to the students and flaunts his authority throughout the film. Bender is the only one who stands up to Vernon.
The film premiered in Los Angeles on February 7, 1985. Universal Pictures released the film in cinemas on February 15, 1985 in the United States.
In 2003, the film was released on DVD as part of the "High School Reunion Collection." In 2008, a "Flashback Edition" DVD was released with several special features, including an audio commentary with Anthony Michael Hall and Judd Nelson. A 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray was released in 2010, and the same disc was re-released with a DVD and digital copy in 2012 as part of Universal's 100th Anniversary series. On March 10, 2015, the 30th Anniversary Edition was released. This release was digitally remastered and restored from the original 35mm film negatives for better picture quality on DVD, Digital HD and Blu-ray.
On October 16, 2017, The Criterion Collection announced that the film will be released in a special edition in January 2018.
The film received high critical acclaim. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an 88% approval rating based on 59 reviews, with an approval rating of 7.7/10. The website's critical consensus states, "The Breakfast Club is a warm, insightful, and very funny look into the inner lives of teenagers." Review aggregator Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 62% based on 11 reviews from mainstream critics, considered to be "generally favorable reviews."
Kathleen Carroll from the New York Daily News stated, "Hughes has a wonderful knack for communicating the feelings of teenagers, as well as an obvious rapport with his exceptional cast - who deserves top grades."
In February 1985, the film debuted at #3 at the box office (behind blockbuster filmBeverly Hills Cop and Witness starring Harrison Ford). Grossing $45,875,171 domestically and $51,525,171 worldwide, the film is a box office success, given its alleged $1 million budget.
Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Paul Gleason and Ally Sheedy won a Silver Bucket of Excellence Award at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards in 2005.
The Breakfast Club is known as the "quintessential 1980s film" and is considered as one of the best films of the decade. In 2008, Empire magazine ranked it #369 on their The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time list. It then rose 331 places to rank at #38 on their 2014 list. Similarly, The New York Times placed the film on its Best 1000 Movies Ever list and Entertainment Weekly ranked the film number 1 on its list of the 50 Best High School Movies. In the 2001 parody film Not Another Teen Movie, Gleason reprised his role as Assistant Principal Vernon in a short scene that parodies The Breakfast Club.
In 2005, the film received the Silver Bucket of Excellence Award in honor of its 20th anniversary at the MTV Movie Awards. For the event, MTV attempted to reunite the original cast. Sheedy, Ringwald, and Hall appeared together on stage, with Kapelos in the audience; Gleason gave the award to his former castmates. Estevez could not attend because of other commitments, and Nelson appeared earlier in the show but left before the on-stage reunion, prompting Hall to joke that the two were "in Africa with Dave Chappelle." Yellowcard performed Simple Minds' anthem for the film, "Don't You (Forget About Me)," at the awards. At the 82nd Academy Awards (March 7, 2010), Sheedy, Hall, Ringwald, and Nelson all appeared in a tribute to John Hughes — who had died a few months prior — along with other actors who had worked with him, including Jon Cryer from Pretty in Pink, Matthew Broderick from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and Macaulay Culkin from Home Alone.
The Breakfast Clubsoundtrack album was released on February 19, 1985 by A&M Records. The album peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The song "Don't You (Forget About Me)" performed by Scottish rock band Simple Minds was released on February 20, 1985 in the United States and on April 8, 1985 in the United Kingdom as a single and reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
- "Don't You (Forget About Me)" – Simple Minds
- "Waiting" – E.G. Daily
- "Fire in the Twilight" – Wang Chung
- "I'm the Dude" (instrumental) – Keith Forsey
- "Heart Too Hot to Hold" – Jesse Johnson and Stephanie Spruill
- "Dream Montage" (instrumental) – Gary Chang
- "We Are Not Alone" – Karla DeVito
- "Reggae" (instrumental) – Keith Forsey
- "Didn't I Tell You?" – Joyce Kennedy
- "Love Theme" (instrumental) – Keith Forsey
In a June 25, 1985 review for The Village Voice, music critic Robert Christgau gave the album a "D−" and said that it has "utterly negligible" songs, and he commended Simple Minds for trying to distance themselves from their song, "Don't You (Forget About Me)," best known for being played during the film's opening and closing credits. In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave the soundtrack three out of five stars and wrote that, apart from Simple Minds' "undisputed masterpiece," the album is largely "disposable" and marred by "'80s artifacts" and "forgettable instrumentals."
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We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong, but we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us—in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal.
Does that answer your question?
The Breakfast Club”
There’s no better way to sum up John Hughes’ seminal teen movie The Breakfast Club than with the voiced-over letter at the end. Released in 1985, The Breakfast Club turns 30 on February 15 and, amazingly, remains incredibly relevant today.
A quick refresher for those who’ve never seen the film (such people exist, we’ve heard): On a Saturday morning, five high school students in Shermer, Illinois, assemble in their school’s library for eight hours of detention. All the typical high school clique archetypes are present and accounted for: the popular girl, Claire (Molly Ringwald); the jock, Andrew (Emilio Estevez); the rebel, John (Judd Nelson); the outcast, Allison (Ally Sheedy); and the geek, Brian (Anthony Michael Hall). But time together eventually erodes the barriers separating them. It’s unclear if that will stick, but for now everyone gains new perspectives on the lot peers and parents have handed to them.
And, yes, this is an ’80s movie we’re talking about here–which means there is the obligatory dance break and the freak-to-chic makeover (why can’t you love Ally as she is, Andrew?!) However, The Breakfast Club is sneaky with its deep emotional truths–and rooted in ideas that teens and adults are, and will always be, grappling with.
Here are five of the most powerful scenes:
1) The catalyst for bonding is always finding a common enemy: in this case, it’s assistant principal Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason). Even though Bender grinds hard on the nerves of anything with a pulse, the crew covers for him when he closes the library doors and when he sneaks back in from solitary confinement.
2) So why is Bender such a grade-A asshole? The same reason many of us struggle: parents. But it’s a little different with Bender. His relentless antagonization is part of the facade he uses to keep people at an emotional arm’s length. Here’s the first time we see a beneath his hardened exterior:
3) There is no way to rank one Breakfast Clubber’s confessional moment over another, but this single take of Brian’s explanation for why he’s in detention is just heartbreaking.
4) There’s a big elephant in that library: What happens come Monday morning? Over the course of their detention, the group forms an undeniable bond, but the question is whether or not that bond will hold up against their respective social cliques. Claire’s honesty may make her sound conceited but it’s honesty, nonetheless.
5) And of course there’s the ending that hearkens back to the question above: Will everyone forget about everyone once the weekend is up? Judging by Brian’s poignantly penned letter to Vernon, Monday might just work out, after all.