Now You See Him, Now You Don't
The Dissappearance of John Hughes
I believe we've reached my most prominent pop culture pet peeve of all time. John Hughes was a man who understood two things in his career: film making and teenagers. Hughes was the man behind such 1980s classics such as: "Sixteen Candles", "The Breakfast Club", "Weird Science" and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". In addition, Hughes was the same guy who wrote the scripts for "Pretty In Pink", "Some Kind of Wonderful", "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" and a little holiday movie called "Home Alone". Who would have guessed all that, right? By looking at this short outline of Hughes' career highlights, its evident that he possesses a remarkable amount of creativity and talent. While he was writing for National Lampoon magazine, Hollywood began encouraging the writers to come up with concepts for films.
This is where all the stars in the sky aligned. Hughes caught a giant break and made his mark with teens in 1984 with the Molly Ringwald starring film "Sixteen Candles". The film called upon the talents of up and coming 16-17 year-old actors instead of using actors well into their 20s. This created a very faithful and realistic picture of how teenagers looked, acted and felt not only at the current time but well into the present. Hughes was on to something here... this film and the subsequent ones that followed it possessed something unique that other teen films at the time often lacked. John Hughes was once a teenager like all of us and harked back to all of the embarrassing, hilarious, awkward, experimental moments of his youth to tell his well executed stories. Bravo sir. My hat goes off to this man who knew that great laughs and the most realistic drama from your teen years is best told by propelling yourself back to them and not guessing what it must have felt like for teens. This man had a gift and showed that to us in "Sixteen Candles" but it wouldn't be until the following year that the true story of teens would be told. On February 15, 1985, "The Breakfast Club" opened in theaters all across the country, the film told the unique story of five teenagers, all of different stereotypes, that meet in a Saturday detention, pour the hearts out to each other and realize they share more in common then they believed. "The Breakfast Club" perfectly portrayed the personas of a typical high school bully, jock, princess, basket case and nerd. John Hughes allowed the audience to stereo typically view the characters just as they were seen until they reveal who they are underneath their images which caused viewers to be taken back and drawn into their worlds. Having the film accompanied by witty dialogue and bantering humor
, "The Breakfast Club" is in every way a perfect film. Hughes enlightened me and I'm sure many other people about what looking beyond the surface is all about as a teenager. It almost makes you feel teary eyed at the end of the film when the cast is seen walking out of detention together back into the world knowing they're changed because in many odd ways you walk away from the film altered too. But, why should we be sad? We've survived the detention with the cast and have all come out better people, right? Yes we have... or at least we should have for the heartless bastards who claim there not. We're choked up in an uplifted way because we've finally found someone who understands us as complicated teenagers and his name is John Hughes. After 22 years since the film's release, I still believe John Hughes crafted the perfect film about teenagers and the struggles we go through to be understood and appreciated. Every time Ally Sheedy delivers the line: "When you grow up, you're heart dies", I always subconsciously tell myself that I will never let that happen to me... and I mean it. All thanks to a teen film from 20 somewhat years ago and a guy named John.
Hughes followed up his classic film with the uproarious comedy "Weird Science" (which had the opening title song performed by Oingo Boingo) and the 1986 teen comedy "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" starring a very young Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Jennifer Grey and Jeffrey Jones along with a cameo from Charlie Sheen. Hughes continued to dazzle audiences, specifically teenagers and young adults, with "Planes, Trains & Automobiles", "She's Having A Baby" and "Uncle Buck" starring the late and great John Candy. Then something happened... The '80s came to an unfortunate end. Cue the 1990s. Rolling in with the rise of grunge music and the debut of "Beverly Hills, 90210" on FOX,
John Hughes decided to change shifts with his next project. "Curly Sue" opened up on the big screen on October 25, 1991 starring the talents of James Belushi, Kelly Lynch and 10 year-old Alisan Porter. The film told the story of two homeless companions (Belushi & Porter) who make their way into Chicago only to cross paths with a hot shot attorney (Lynch) who takes them into her care. "Curly Sue" was new territory for Hughes and I found it to be an ambitious and successful move that left me beyond entertained by the end. To this day, I still quote lines from the film. Unfortunately, someone turned out the lights on John Hughes... And it just so happened to be Hughes himself. I'm sure there exists some logical reasoning for why Hughes turned his back on making movies but I could give a shit about logical reasoning. Maybe he felt like he couldn't connect with the teenagers of the '90s or he was just completely sick of the whole "Hollywood thing". Who knows?
But, all I know is that anytime I have a wonderful conversation about Hughes' films I always have to end it with a sour taste in my mouth knowing that it all ended in 1991. Some people never got over Vietnam, well in my case I never fully recovered from John Hughes leaving the public eye. I mean truly the man responsible for teaching me not to let my heart die when I grow up! The guy that invented Ferris Bueller, who I find to be my cinematic replica of who I am! The same man that inspired me to attempt making my dream girl via computer and a Barbie doll! Where the hell did you go John? It pains me everyday to know that great talent like John Hughes' is no longer being put to use, I pray to the Nerd Gods above that one day Hughes will come out of his seclusion and wow us with something amazing... but I fear those prayers may never be answered. Regardless, if Hughes does or does not return to the movie scene, his classic films will forever be remembered and John Hughes will always be honored for his gift to understand and speak to teenagers through his work.