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Nick-Davis.com: 100 Favorite Films
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XX: The Breakfast Club
and  Pretty in Pink

Breakfast (USA, 1985; dir. John Hughes; cin. Thomas Del Ruth)
IMDb // My Page

Pink (USA, 1986; dir. Howard Deutch; cin. Tak Fujimoto)
IMDb // My Page

Restoring a little balance of power to the universe, and knocking me right off of The Piano Teacher's high-art pedestal, here are the two films from the John Hughes factory that double-double my refreshment every time I pull them off the shelf. I find it impossible to choose between The Breakfast Club, which Hughes directed from his own script, and Pretty in Pink, helmed by the otherwise dubious Howard Deutch. I saw The Breakfast Club when you're really supposed to, i.e., when you are roughly the same age or, better, just barely younger than the characters in the movie—from which vantage Hughes' empathetic grasp of high-school anhedonia is all the more rewarding and exciting, and also nicely tempered by a fair grasp of each character's naïveté and inadequacy. Gorgeously, and infectiously, the movie finds all of its adolescent leads in a gently embellished free-zone between the mess that real people are in high school and the stabler, frankly nicer people that Andy and Claire and Bender and the rest will palpably become later in their lives, given just a little bit of breathing-room to grow up and get over themselves. That said, I sure hope that Ally Sheedy's Allison, by far my favorite character, will forever continue to make her dandruff-derived objets and her all-carbs all-the-time sandwiches. Also priceless: Anthony Michael Hall's shambling diffidence, so hard-fought but so hilariously ill-concealed, and Judd Nelson's marvleous line reading of the single word "Claire," turning the name into some sort of insolent question.

The Breakfast Club is snappily written, crisply defined, and cleverly art-directed, and in terms of pacing, it couldn't work better. Even the precipitous couplings at the end, some of them real head-scratchers, actually help the movie: we don't leave with any false sense that anything has been fixed or made permanent, and the excitement of making right and wrong choices at the same time is preserved. Pretty in Pink, a much more sober film however poppy it also is, gets a similar boost from what seem like errors. Andie's romantic trajectory just isn't what we expect, and the widely circulated reports of last-minute script changes augment the climactic sense of compromise. But Andie's compromises were always what was most interesting about her, right alongside her winning and utterly believable rapport with her kindly burned-out dad and the limpid, hugely gratifying accessibility of Molly Ringwald across her whole performance. Pretty in Pink starts and ends in imperfection—nicely if unintentionally underlined by the fact that Andie's "do it yourself" prom dress, which occasions her happy ending, is actually, let's be real, quite unflattering. The movie is poignant even when it's funny, funny even when it's angry ("WHAT about PROM, BLANE??!"), and enormously embraceable. It lacks, mercifully, any Long Duck Dong instance of mean and boring stereotype, and in the hands of D.P. Tak Fujimoto—later a godsend to The Silence of the Lambs and The Sixth Sense—the movie doesn't look bad, either. The Psychedelic Furs sound almost as techno-thrilling on the Pink soundtrack as the Simple Minds do on The Breakfast Club's. So riddle me this: why can't these movies get any respect?

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