Five high school students from different walks of life endure a Saturday detention under a power-hungry principal (Paul Gleason). The disparate group includes rebel John (Judd Nelson), princess Claire (Molly Ringwald), outcast Allison (Ally Sheedy), brainy Brian (Anthony Michael Hall) and Andrew (Emilio Estevez), the jock. Each has a chance to tell his or her story, making the others see them a little differently and when the day ends, they question whether school will ever be the same.
The Breakfast Club is a 1985 American coming-of-age comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by John Hughes and starring Emilio Estevez, Paul Gleason, Anthony Michael Hall, John Kapelos, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy. The storyline follows five teenagers, each a member of a different high school clique, who spend a Saturday in detention together and come to realize that they are all more than their respective stereotypes, while facing a villainous principal.
Critics consider it one of the greatest high school films, as well as one of Hughes most memorable and recognizable works. The media referred to the films five main actors as members of a group called the "Brat Pack".
The film was digitally remastered and was re-screened throughout 430 theaters in celebration of its 30th anniversary in 2015.
Five high school students, all different stereotypes, meet in detention, where they pour their hearts out to each other, and discover how they have a lot more in common than they thought.
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 Clarke, the bookish Brian Johnson; the reclusive outcast Allison Reynolds, and the rebellious 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 for the next eight hours and 54 minutes. He assigns them a 1,000-word essay, in which each must describe "who you think you are." He then leaves, returning only occasionally to check on them. Bender, 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 the occasional random outburst.
The students pass the hours by talking, arguing, and, at one point, smoking cannabis that Bender retrieves from his locker. Gradually, they open up to each other and reveal their deepest personal secrets: Allison is a compulsive liar; Andrew cant easily think for himself; John comes from an abusive household; Brian has attempted suicide due to a bad grade; and Claire is a virgin who feels constant pressure from her friends. They also discover that they all have strained relationships with their parents: Allisons parents ignore her due to their own problems; Andrews father constantly criticizes his efforts at wrestling and pushes him as hard as possible; Johns father verbally and physically abuses both John and his mother; Brians parents put immense pressure on him to get good grades and keep it that way; and Claires 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 (and even romantic relationships) as the day progresses. Claire makes it her mission to show Allison just how pretty she really is, and Allisons new look sparks the romantic interest of Andrew, who is stunned when Allisons beauty is revealed. Claire decides to break her "pristine" virgin appearance by kissing Bender in the closet and giving him a hickey. Although they suspect that the relationships would end with the end of their detention, their mutual experiences would change the way they would look at their peers afterward.
As the detention comes to its final moments, the group requests that Brian complete the essay for everyone, and Brian agrees, leaving the essay in the library for Vernon to read after they leave. The students part ways outside the school. Allison and Andrew kiss, as do Claire and John. Allison rips Andrews 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 Brians essay (read by Brian in voice-over), in which Brian states that Vernon has already judged who they are, "in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions: a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal." Brian signs the letter as "The Breakfast Club." As the movie ends, John raises his fist in triumph as he walks across the football field for home.Judd Nelson as John Bender, the criminalMolly Ringwald as Claire Standish, the princessEmilio Estevez as Andrew "Andy" Clark, the athleteAnthony Michael Hall as Brian Ralph Johnson, the brainAlly Sheedy as Allison Reynolds, the basket casePaul Gleason as Richard "Dick" Vernon, the school assistant principalJohn Kapelos as Carl Reed, the school janitorRon Dean as Mr. ClarkeMercedes Hall as Mrs. JohnsonJohn Hughes (uncredited) as Mr. JohnsonMary Christian as Brians sisterTim Gamble as Mr. StandishPerry Crawford as Mr. ReynoldsFran Gargano as Mrs. Reynolds
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 John 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 to be cast, though the role came 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 got angry at Nelson because he stayed in character by taunting 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 films 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. Unabashedly inexperienced, 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 of that year. Filming took place at Maine North High School in Des Plaines, Illinois, shuttered in 1981. (Hughes later used the same setting for Ferris Buellers Day Off, released one year after The Breakfast Club.)
The library at Maine North High School, considered too small for the film, prompted the crew to build the set in the schools gymnasium. The actors rehearsed with each other for three weeks and then shot the film in sequence. Some of the posters on the walls during filming of The Breakfast Club can also be seen in Ferris Bueller. On the Ferris Buellers Day Off DVD commentary (featured on the 2004 DVD version), John Hughes revealed that he shot the two films back-to-back 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 clocked in at 150 minutes. During a cast reunion in honor of the films 25th anniversary, Ally Sheedy revealed that a Directors Cut existed but Hughes widow did not disclose any details concerning its whereabouts.
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. 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.
Stereotyping is another theme. Once the obvious stereotypes are broken down, the characters "empathize with each others struggles, dismiss some of the inaccuracies of their first impressions, and discover that they are more similar than different."
The films 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 film received high critical acclaim, and holds a 88% "Certified Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 48 reviews, with an average score of 7.4/10. The critical consensus is "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".
In February 1985, the film debuted at #3 at the box office (behind blockbuster film Beverly 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.AFIs 100 Years...100 Songs:"Dont You (Forget About Me)" – NominatedAFIs 100 Years...100 Cheers - NominatedAFIs 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) — Nominated
The Breakfast Club is known as the "quintessential 1980s film" and is considered as one of the best films of 1985. In 2008, Empire magazine ranked it #369 on their The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time list. Similarly, The New York Times placed the film on its Best 1000 Movies Ever list and Entertainment Weeklys ranked the film number 1 on its list of the 50 Best High School Movies.
On March 7, 2000, the music group A-Teens released their debut album The ABBA Generation, which includes their cover of ABBAs 1976 song "Dancing Queen" and an associated music video for the song. The video, which is a tribute to the movie, features Gleason again reprising his role as Vernon, with the band and many extras serving as the bands background dancers, as students serving detention in the library, much like the original movie itself.
In the parody film Not Another Teen Movie 2001, 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". Rock band Yellowcard performed Simple Minds anthem for the film, "Dont 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 (1986), Matthew Broderick from Ferris Buellers Day Off (1986), and Macaulay Culkin from Home Alone (1990).
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 Universals 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.
The Breakfast Club soundtrack album was released in 1985. The album peaked at No. 17 on the US Billboard 200 album chart. "Dont You (Forget About Me)" reached No. 1 on the US Hot 100.
- "Dont You (Forget About Me)" – Simple Minds
- "Waiting" – E.G. Daily
- "Fire in the Twilight" – Wang Chung
- "Im 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
- "Didnt I Tell You?" – Joyce Kennedy
- "Love Theme" (instrumental) – Keith Forsey
John Hughes directed The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles. John Hughes directed The Breakfast Club and wrote the screenplay for Pretty in Pink. John Hughes directed The Breakfast Club and Ferris Buellers Day Off. Emilio Estevez and Judd Nelson appear in The Breakfast Club and St Elmos Fire. Lucas (1986).
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, best known for being played during the film opening and closing credits: "Dont You (Forget About Me)". In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave the film 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".