Note: I was going to call this piece "We Won't Forget About Him", but then I remembered that punctuation marks affect titles and descriptions.
As I was visiting various websites, I came across a shocking piece of news. John Hughes, the director and writer behind a litany of movies that helped to define Generations X and Y died at the age of 59 on August 6th, 2009.
Needless to say, this stunned me. I adore 80s movies, and some of the most memorable pieces of 80s cinema involved this man. As I heard of his death, memories of my past and his work came rushing back. I have thus decided to talk about 5 movies and how they relate to various memories I have.
My first exposure to Hughes' work wasn't through an 80s movie he was involved in, but instead a *90s* movie he was involved in. I recall seeing "Home Alone", which he wrote and produced, on VHS back in 1991.
If I remember correctly, our family received a copy of this around Halloween of that year, my first time being introduced to the concept of Christmas starting in the Fall.
I thought that the ways that Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) took on the Wet Bandits (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) were very entertaining. I watched and wondered what household tools he would use next to wreak havoc.
As odd as this will sound, though, as I've grown older, I think the best character in both of the "Home Alone" movies would have to be the character of Kate (Catherine O'Hara).
I think that her character is sort of the adult version of Kevin. She often attacks Kevin, but when she lives him behind, she realizes how important he is, no matter how much of a bother he may be. It's the same way with Kevin. He's complaining about his family, but once he's astray from them, he realizes how he needs them.
This point was driven home further in the first 80s movie with John Hughes' involvement that I saw. That movie was "Ferris Bueller's Day Off".
I haven't always had the easiest of times with my brother. He's always been able to do things better than I have. He doesn't have the same emotional and mental issues that I do. In a way, he's sort of like Ferris (Matthe Broderick), and I sometimes feel like a male version of Jeanie (Jennifer Grey). She has jealousy running through her veins over how her family treats Ferris. Likewise, I've been extremely envious of how my brother has been treated. He has issues, to be sure, but they aren't part of his psychological make-up.
Near the end, it falls to a thug played by Charlie Sheen to talk Jeanie down to Earth about Ferris, telling her to be more positive about him.
My psychologist has served in much the same manner. She reminds me to go easy on my brother and also reminds me that my brother loves me. I do love my brother, but I'm still jealous a lot of the time. Then again, jealousy is an essential part of being a family.
The next movie to talk about is one I've discussed many times. That movie is "The Breakfast Club".
This memory doesn't involve dialogue or the characters. Instead, it relates to something I read in Premeire Magazine. That was a movie magazine that I subscribed to for several years. It was 2000, I believe, and there was an oral history of this movie in there, discussed by cast and crew. I read something very interesting...Apparently, Hughes was in possession of a cut of the movie with an HOUR of extra footage. I only wish we could see that released, if only for comparison. The movie is a great comedy-drama, but had it been released in its' original form, it might have skewed more to comedy. I recall reading about a sequence where Allison (Ally Sheedy) imagines her fellow detention mates in her own ways, like imagining Bender (Judd Nelson) as a hungry Viking and Claire (Molly Ringwald) as a fairy-tale princess.
You know, I think Allison is probably the character I can relate to most.
For example, with the exception of the last few minutes of the movie, she was always attired in very heavy and covering clothing. For much of my 11th and 12th grade years, so was I. I had two jackets I often wore...A big yellow one and my late dad's fire-fighter jacket, which had his name printed on there. It wasn't uncommon for me to be wearing either of those into May. I have no idea why I did it, but I don't look back on it in shame. I just wore it.
On a less-aesthetic note, I also related to her because she was who she was, for better or for worse. She had a look and an attitude all her own...She didn't follow in anyone's footsteps. It was the same thing in my school years...I had Hall & Oates and Roxy Music on my cassette player while everyone else was listening to Nirvana and assorted rappers. I was making references to 80s movies that only the teachers got. Yes, Allison did get a make-over at the end of the movie, but the way it ended, you don't know if the make-over would've stuck. It wasn't a concrete ending...I like open endings.
Onward to the 4th movie, one of my 80s favorites, "16 Candles".
I actually purchased this when I was 16. It was a very enjoyable movie...It didn't strike me emotionally, but instead, it hit me in a different way. My favorite character was Long Duk Dong (Gedde Watanabe).
There were two ways his character affected me. One was through the name. The character is referred to as a "Chinaman named after a duck's dork". There was a friend I made on an 80s message board a few years back, who often times referred to herself as a "dork". I've always wanted to ask her if she knows what a dork is. She was very nice to me, and I would hate for her to continue attacking herself in that manner.
The other way it affected me is that now every time I see him in a movie, I'll think of his role in "16 Candles", even if it's a very serious drama. He was the first acting talent to leave such an impression on me. This would later extend to talents like Bill Pullman and Al Pacino, both of whom are versatile actors, but both of whom will always be, respectively, Lone Starr and Tony Montana, at least to me.
I think that it was a very enjoyable movie, and I don't have a bad thing to say about it.
To cap this article off, I would like to mention "Pretty In Pink", which Hughes wrote and produced.
For me, this was a movie about changes. I saw it back in 2000, near the end of my 11th grade year. Andie (Ringwald) was a character torn between two different worlds...The class one, represented by her crush Blane (Andrew McCarthy) and the crass one, represented by her friend Duckie (Jon Cryer). She was able to maintain a balance between the two. I, on the other hand, wasn't really able to, and as such, I talked to my friends less and less, until eventually, I moved onto new ones, or at least tried to.
"Pretty In Pink" wasn't just about romance...It was about figuring out what you wanted in life. In a way, that's really what all of Hughes' movies were about. Life is very uncertain, with all sorts of twists and turns. I think that's the reason why his movies are still loved to this day...As we view these characters making these important decisions that impact their lives, so they inspire us. They allow us to look at ourselves and each other, wondering what lies beneath the surface.
Allow me to quote "The Breakfast Club":
Brian: Dear Mr. Vernon, 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 an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us... In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain...
Andrew Clark: ...and an athlete...
Allison Reynolds: ...and a basket case...
Claire Standish: ...a princess...
John Bender: ...and a criminal...
Brian Johnson: Does that answer your question?
We are all the same and we are all different. John Hughes understood that, and that's why I love his work.
R.I.P John Hughes.
With that, the floor is open for discussions:
What are your favorite John Hughes movies? What emotions do they give you? Who do you think is carrying on in his tradition today?