It has been written repeatedly over the last 24 hours that the films that John Hughes was involved in affected a generation. I believe it.
Hughes, who died of a heart attack on the morning of August 6th, made a series of movies that truly spoke to a generation. At the time that his films began to garner attention, most movies made about the follies of youth were sleazy sex comedies about teenage boys trying to satisfy their primal urges.
Hughes took a different approach. The Breakfast Club, for example, studied social boundaries. I truly believe these were more than just “teen movies.” They changed how people looked at themselves and the world around them. When Hollywood tried to ressurect the genre in the late 1990’s (She’s All That, etc), THOSE were simply fluffy “teen movies.” John Hughes films made you actually think and look at the world around you a little differently, whether you admitted it or not.
Here’s a fun game - try to find a John Hughes film that isn’t ridiculously quotable. Whether it is Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Sixteen Candles, or National Lampoon’s Vacation, I bid you good luck.
My personal favourite work of Hughes was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I couldn’t even estimate how many times I have watched it. I remember buying it on VHS as a present to my older sister, then pretty much as soon as she unwrapped it, reclaiming it as my own. Never before has a poor VHS tape been so overworked. If you played it today, you’d have to squint to see any actual picture through all the fuzz and static the worn out tape displays. Good thing I purchased the DVD release.
I can’t say why I still enjoy watching all the classic John Hughes films of the 1980’s. I think it might be because as the perpetual younger brother that I am, I always wanted to do what my older siblings were doing. When they were out having fun, going on dates and doing the things teenagers do, I always looked up to them as being so exciting. So I tried to watch the same movies they were watching at the time. We would sometimes even watch them together, and it would almost put us on even ground. uch like I would live somewhat vicariously through my older siblings and their friends, I would do the same with the characters of Some Kind of Wonderful or Pretty in Pink. Heck, even to an extent poor little Kevin in Home Alone.
If there were three things that helped mold my personality growing up, it was John Hughes movies, pro wrestling and Saturday Night Live. If you’ve always wondered why I’m such a goof, now you know.
So it is with much sadness that I bid a fond farewell to John Hughes. I also bid a more temporary farewell to every person I know as I commence my own personal John Hughes movie marathon. See you in a few days!
Oh, and in closing, while Molly Ringwald comes to mind when most people think of John Hughes films, I think of Mia Sara in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Yup, despite having Edward Rooney for a principal, Ferris had it good!