“…And these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds are immune to your consultations. They’re quite aware of what they’re going through…”
Plot: What’s it about?
Three decades. Thirty years. That’s roughly 11,000 days. I know I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again – time flies. When The Breakfast Club came out in theaters I was living, coincidentally enough, in Wheaton, IL (a suburb of Chicago). I was in seventh grade and while not quite the age of the characters in the film, I was able to relate (as were all teens) to what they were going through and what they were feeling. And that is the enduring appeal of this film. Hell, my step sons have both seen it multiple times and they can relate to it. If that’s not the epitome of a great film then I really don’t know what is. Switching gears to John Hughes – well the man was amazing. His movies defined the teen films of the 80’s and there’s got to be at least one that stands out as a favorite. For many it’s this one. I’m a fan of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Weird Science, Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club but Pretty in Pink never really did it for me. Throw in St. Elmos Fire while you’re at it – filmed the same year with three of the five cast members (playing college graduates instead of high school students) and that’ll just about do it.
Five students find themselves in the last place they want to be – at school on a Saturday. They’re there for different reasons: Brian (Anthony Michael Hall) was contemplating suicide and a flare gun was found in his locker. Claire (Molly Ringwald) skipped school to go shopping. John (Judd Nelson) pulled a fire alarm. And Allison (Ally Sheedy) really had nothing better to do. They’re met by the principal, Mr. Vernon (Paul Gleason) and are assigned to write an essay as to why they were put in detention. As the day progresses, fights ensue but, more to the point, these five seemingly different teens start to let down their guards and get to know one another. They find out that they’re really not that different. Even Mr. Vernon has an epiphany while talking to the school janitor (John Kapelos). And, by the end of the day, their lives are changed forever.
Filmed entirely in sequence, The Breakfast Club is the gold standard which all teen movies will be judged. It’s likely there will never be another film like it. It made stars of the cast that carried them through the 80’s and well into the 90’s. What’s so universally significant about the film is that the message is universal. Every single teen has issues – be it with their parents, friends or both. The movie was able to showcase that in a way that most weren’t able. The message was simple and also relatable. This is what John Hughes did best and why this bunch of films are still so admired even today. I’m sure that anyone reading this review will have seen this film, but if not – by all means…do! If ever there’s a movie that defines a generation then this has got to be on the short list. Highly recommended.
Video: How’s it look?
One of the more iconic films of the 80’s has an unmistakable ending shot of Judd Nelson’s character, his arm raised in a fit of triumph. For the film’s 30th anniversary Universal has a new transfer for this classic. But..how’s it look? The 1.85:1 AVC HD image looks remarkably similar to the 25th anniversary Blu-ray, but there are some subtle differences between the two. Colors are a bit more natural on this version. The previous Blu-ray featured a warmer color palette, but it also looked a bit on the “fake” side. Detail looks the same, but it’s an obvious improvement over the DVD from years past. There’s a fine layer of grain that’s been present on every incarnation of the film, but it’s not distracting in the least. While not a jaw dropping improvement over the previous Blu-ray, I’d venture to say that this is the best the film has ever looked on a home video format.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Don’t let the DTS HD Master Audio moniker fool you. While The Breakfast Club does sport a lossless soundtrack, it’s not one that’ll shake the room. Then again, having seen it time and again, we all know that. Certainly this soundtrack is one for the ages with “Don’t You Forget About Me” taking front and center (literally). Vocals are rich and crisp, we can hear every one liner uttered. Surrounds are surprisingly quiet and don’t offer a lot of action, but this has always been a front heavy soundtrack with only a few instances of dynamic audio. It’s a nice-sounding track, but not one that’ll test the limits of your system.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Unfortunately we only get one new supplement as the rest are ported over from the 25th anniversary Blu-ray. But then again we never covered the 25th anniversary Blu-ray, so here we go…
- Audio Commentary – Judd Nelson and Anthony Michael Hall contribute to this commentary track that is chock full of little tidbits here and there, but they seem to get lost watching the film. It’s not that technical, but rather a look back for the two stars as they watch the film. It’s a nice listen, but nothing mind-blowing is contained.
- Sincerely Yours – This documentary is actually divided up into twelve sections with the actors reminiscing about their roles and working with Hughes (many of the cast members worked with him on several films). It’s a nice look at the film, its influence and what made it all work.
- The Most Convenient Definitions: The Origins of the Brat Pack – Running a much shorter 6 minutes, this is the cast commenting on the literal label “Brat Pack.”
- Accepting the Facts – The lone new supplement is a fact-filled trivia track in “Pop Up Video” form (in the form of a piece of crumpled up paper). There are some pretty interesting tidbits here, though many have been known for a while and can be found at the IMDb’s Trivia page. Still it’s a nice feature to have nonetheless.
The Bottom Line
Three decades after its release, The Breakfast Club remains just as iconic today as it was in 1985. The values and messages contained within the film will continue to speak to generations of teens or those feeling an internal struggle. This was probably John Hughes’s most profound work and certainly an icon of 80’s teen cinema. This 30th edition Blu-ray expands on the previous issue by adding a trivia track and what I feel is a bit better transfer. It’s a draw if you want to “upgrade” to this version if you own the 25th anniversary edition – but this does belong on every shelf regardless.