We Watched the Breakfast Club with the Breakfast Club

September 23, 2010

Monday night in New York, 42 Below and the Film Society of Lincoln Center held a tribute to The Breakfast Club, now celebrating its 25th year of high school angst, featuring nearly the entire cast in attendance. We sent professional comedian and John Hughes mega-fan Craig Baldo to report on the proceedings. Read his thoughts and learn valuable Breakfast Club trivia after the jump.

Monday night, I attended the 25th Anniversary screening of The Breakfast Club, presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, as part of a tribute to the late John Hughes. The film was followed by a panel discussion with the Brat Pack—sans Emilio Estevez who, according to Anthony Michael Hall, must have been filming Mighty Ducks 5 (seriously though, Emilio, what’s your damage?). Hall, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy and Molly Ringwald all took part in the discussion, moderated competently
by Kevin Smith despite him dropping the F-bomb at least 1,200 times.

Like so many people in the theater and around the world, my adolescence was not only defined by the timeless films and soundtracks of John Hughes, but also validated by them. If a Hughes character felt something, I was able to feel it too. That’s how I made it through high school, so Monday night was surreal. During the screening, I sat across the aisle from Nelson and Sheedy (the “brain” and “princess” sat a few aisles over)—I was watching The Breakfast Club with the Breakfast Club. As Bender crawled through the ceiling ducts, delivering his naked blonde/poodle/two-foot salami joke, I furtively kept my eyes on Judd Nelson five feet to my right, mouthing the words of the joke as he did, along with his 24-year-old onscreen self. Heavy. I felt I couldn’t come any closer to bridging the gap between 1985 and today, reality and fiction, innocence and enlightenment.

The only thing missing was the person responsible for bringing us all together—John Hughes, and there was overwhelming awe in the room for the man. Kevin Smith, who regretfully said he never met Hughes, cited him as the reason he became a filmmaker. “He was a genius," said Smith. "The Breakfast Club was his sophomore effort. My second film was Mallrats.” The Brat Pack shared Smith’s affection, not just for Hughes’ work, but for his direct role in their personal and professional lives. Nelson emphasized how disappointing it was to work with other directors after being on set with Hughes, that Hughes listened to his actors, allowing them to discover moments on their own. (Many takes in The Breakfast Club were improvised.) In one scene, Hughes agreed to film Sheedy singing an entire Phil Ochs song alone in a room while she watched the others smoke pot. He had no intention of using the footage but knew it would help her grow into the character of Allison, so he shot it. Hall recollected spending lots of time at Hughes’ house, watching classic comedy films with him and his family. And Ringwald told the story of how Hughes kept her picture pinned to his wall during the writing of Sixteen Candles. He needed a muse and had randomly plucked her headshot from a pile on his desk. By the time he finished the screenplay, her face was so connected to the character, he ended up casting her, beginning a director/actress love affair that lasted through Pretty in Pink.

The experience was no ordinary screening or retrospective—it was a class reunion. Although most of us knew few other people in the room, we were all part of the graduating class of Hughes High. No cliques or convenient definitions. Each one of us
was a brain, a basket case… you know the rest. Not sure if there were any athletes there. Maybe at the 50-year reunion, Estevez will snap out of it and show up.

Click through for other film facts from the forum.

Facts about The Breakfast Club that you may not know:

-Judd Nelson improvised the Elephantiasis of the nuts dialogue.
-Molly Ringwald said her high school nemesis was named LaVerne Caracuzzi.
-Ally Sheedy recommended using the David Bowie quote from “Changes” at the beginning of the film, which Hughes did. She didn’t find out he used it until she saw it in the theater.
-There really is no punch line to Bender’s naked blonde joke—he ad-libbed the set up. The original joke was way too dirty for the film.
-Hughes spent two days shooting with Rick Moranis playing Carl the janitor. Moranis was let go after insisting to read his lines with a
Russian accent.
-Hughes introduced Molly Ringwald to the Beatles and Ringwald introduced Hughes to the Psychedelic Furs. Hughes used to give mixtapes to his cast members.
-Anthony Michael Hall developed his “Chicks can’t hold their smoke...” character after watching Richard Pryor Live at the Sunset Strip with Hughes (which he also used in Weird Science).

Posted: September 23, 2010
We Watched the Breakfast Club with the Breakfast Club