So, Ive got an unpopular opinion: I dislike The Breakfast club. I watched it a while ago because Id seen it referenced everywhere, from other movies to cartoons, to art. I also saw it in every best 80s movies lists or greatest movie lists from sites like the Rolling Stone, IMDB, and Rotten Tomatoes. And I love a good movie, so naturally with a pinch of FOMO – I watched it. I saw how embedded it was in pop culture before watching it but was hugely disappointed when I did.
The film was directed by John Hughes and released in 1985.
It follows 5 teenage archetypes, a sporto, basket case, criminal, brain and princess going to detention for an entire Saturday. Their task for their detention is to write an essay on who they thought they were. They sit in a room and talk. Thats it. The breakfast club is beloved by critics and plebs alike and it genuinely baffles me why its so highly praised.
Am I missing something here? Why do they like it?
Firstly, I wanted to talk about characterisation. Fanatics usually screech with pride at the complex and insightful characters John Hudges presents. All the characters are meant to be stereotypes in high school and supposed to showcase their struggles and problems, but I think theres a problem if you claim stereotypes to be authentic and insightful. For example, who would have guessed Brian the brain had overbearing parents, or Claire the princess is spoilt and a child of divorce or even that Bender the criminal lashes out because hes abused at home.
All characters just dont seem convincing; there only seem to be two aspects to them: their relationship with their parents and pressures of their cliques. But theres so much more to people than that! Whats ironic is the whole thesis of the film is that people are more than their stereotypes, so what? Theyre their relationship with their parents too? Incredible!
Many teens can take solace in characters such as these and relate to their identity struggles or problems with parents. But because The Breakfast Club was so popular, due to the brat pack and director, it reinforces and aggressively stoked the flames of modern teenage stereotypes. It engages in the archetypes it wanted to deconstruct which just stereotyped kids more. I feel like this completely ruins the films message and sentiment.
Theres also a lot of hype around the films realism and sensitivity in the characters problems. But take Brian for example, he is overworked, overstressed and has an intense amount of pressure on him, so much so he got landed in detention because he tried to kill himself. But when he tells the group he tried shooting himself with a flare gun they laugh and brush it off. The matter is overlooked by the characters and not mentioned ever again, its ridiculous how insensitive it actually is. Allison, the basket case, also didnt even need to come to detention, she just came because she had nothing better to do. Shes sad, gets a makeover from the princess and then the sporto then takes an interest in her, like looking pretty and a boyfriend will solve all her problems.
The plot of the movie is also completely worthless. For a full half hour (one third of the movie) they do nothing, they basically come into the detention room and sneer at each other. I understand a teen movie isnt as action packed as anything Vin Diesel stars in, but they could at least do something. It is unexciting, uninspiring and just plain dull. But at least this part of the film is realistic, if I was put into a situation like that, I probably would just act above it and write my damn essay. The rest of the movie where they bond and talk (and smoke weed?) is just unfeasible given how they all hate each other, Bender actually calls all of them out one by one and says he detests them, it makes no sense.
The film I feel ends poorly, as they try to have it both ways, and ends with Brians voice over saying, we found we are each a basket case, criminal, princess. They all realise they are more than cliques but then go on to say thats not how life works as they know they wont greet each other in the halls on Monday or talk ever again. Its lazy writing as you try to pander to everyones perfect ending, but it just ends up being confusing. I think whether or not a movie is satisfying is important, and the breakfast clubs ending just isnt.
And when there is action in the movie its uncomfortable, sexist, and homophobic. Andy calls bender a fag and Bender is incredible rape-y towards Claire. Therere shots up her skirt implying he harassed her and also gems like: lets get this prom queer impregnated. How can this movie still survive in the age of metoo? People are willing to overlook this because they love the movie but why? The Breakfast Club isnt even as appropriate as it thinks it is. It is aimed at fellow teenagers (being the quintessential teen movie) but glamourizes this kind of behaviour by exhibiting it through the cooler archetypes. Its not something we should keep celebrating years on and placing on a pedestal just because its a classic. Media like this can be downright harmful.
A reason why older people could like it is nostalgia. The breakfast club includes many 80s tropes such as music, hairstyles, fashion and casual sexism. This might make it appealing to people who were teens in the 80s to reflect on their time in high school through the breakfast club. Its not such a horrible thing but it shouldnt be classed as a great movie just because of nostalgia, and the rest of the breakfast cult may be blindly following their 80s leaders, wanting to be a part of the craze just as many love the 90s babies nowadays. Ive found in real life and other media, girls especially, will like The Breakfast Club just to make themselves stand out and be interesting because they like old things. This genuinely enrages me especially as it could be fuelling The Breakfast Clubs popularity.
I dont think this movies as good as its hyped up to be. Its not as insightful, appropriate or satisfying as it thinks it is. But its followers are too far gone. The plague has spread, and its probably going to keep tormenting me in those best movie lists for many years to come. I just hope I can get out alive.