Friday, August 07, 2009

"At the time I came along, Hollywood's idea of teen movies meant there had to be a lot of nudity, usually involving boys in pursuit of sex, and pretty gross overall. Either that or a horror movie. And the last thing Hollywood wanted in their teen movies was teenagers!"

-John Hughes

All this summer The Spouse and I have been educating The Child as to the pop cultural significance of '80's movies, which is largely comprise of the work of the as-of-yesterday-late John Hughes.

Funny, just the other night, after we finished watching "Some Kind of Wonderful", The Spouse and I began a discussion (among ourselves...we didn't subject The Child to it) of the importance of Mr. Hughes' work in the history of cinema. The Spouse used the word "oeuvre and I quickly and snobbishly corrected him, as the word pertains to the totality of one's life work. Turns out, he was only about 18 hours short of using the word correctly.

We've watched a lot of classic (and some not so) movies this summer. Some, like "Footloose", "Dirty Dancing" and "Say Anything" were not written or directed or produced by Mr. Hughes. But most of them have been. And a few important things stand out.

John Hughes did advance a genre which had, theretofore, been comprised of beach party movies, slasher films or Porkyesque treatments of the teenage experience. Then Hughes came along and made movies about real kids dealing with the real stuff of being a teenager. Parents who didn't get it (excepting Harry Dean Stanton's role as the dad in "Pretty in Pink"...but he had other issues). Cliques. Class. Social standing. Choices. Sex. The future. Friendship. Love. Sex. And he did it wit humor and honesty and excellent soundtracks. He worked with some kids who were going to go on to do some pretty good work over the years and not all of them went off the rails in the process.

Some of Hughes' movies are terrible. Some of the films in his legacy make my throat small. But not the teen films. I love them. Love them all. I love them all for different reasons but I love them.

Hughes didn't start a revolution in teen films. The fact remains that movies about teens and marketed to teens still are largely fluff at best, insulting at worst. But Hughes did open, if not a door than at least a window that would allow someone like Diablo Cody to come along and make a film like "Juno".

Hughes was one of the first film makers to treat teenagers authentically. (Cameron Crowe did it in "Say Anything", too). His characters weren't perfect but they were real. They were mixed up, funny, sad and by the end of the film they usually managed to learn a little something along the way.

His films are replete with unforgettable images and scenes; images & scenes which have become icons of the genre. (Ferris and his friends in the Chicago Art Institute & the Breakfast Clubbers dancing in the library spring immediately to mind). His movies were good stories that 20 years later don't feel dated. They have been as captivating to The Child now as they were to us when they first came out. And that's saying something. And did I mention the excellent soundtracks?

Simple Minds "Don't You Forget About Me"

Thanks, John. Good work. Rest in peace.



Blogger Lorraine opined...

Btw, I'd love to know what your favorite John Hughes film is. Except for Buck, who's never heard of him. (And he lives in Chicago, for crying out loud).

I get a little torn but I think my fav is "Ferris Bueller".

August 07, 2009 7:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

Ba Ha Ha Ha

Thanks for the clip.

So, when did Hollywood recover from McCarthyism?

Just curious.

Lived with loggers in Forks for a short while back in the 70's. Which is what it was most famous for. Long drive.



August 07, 2009 10:00 AM  
Blogger Sling opined...

My favorite has to be Ferris Bueller as well.
Matthew Broderick has been one of my favorite actors since.

August 07, 2009 10:52 AM  
Blogger Buck opined...

Oh, THAT John Hughes!

August 07, 2009 10:59 AM  
Blogger Buck opined...

BTW, Zip Cars in Chicago each have their own nickname assigned to them. The one I drive is named "Bueller".

I just figured out why.

August 07, 2009 11:00 AM  
Blogger Reel Fanatic opined...

The parallel to Say Anything is indeed a very good ... What Hughes' 80s flicks had, along with the educational moments, was just an excessive of charm that we are now sorely missing

August 07, 2009 11:06 AM  
Blogger Grish opined...

I always hate naming a favorite because I'm always afraid I'll change my mind so I'll just list my top five in order of favoritism.

Wierd Science

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

National Lampoon's Vacation

Uncle Buck

and maybe the Breakfast Club

If I listed something something that Hughes wasn't actually responsible for take pity on me..

August 07, 2009 3:41 PM  
Anonymous Syd opined...

For me, it's a tie between Ferris Bueller's Day Off (for the sheer, exuberant, anarchic fun of it all) and The Breakfast Club (for the points it made about our similarities and differences and living up to, or down to, expectations, and what you miss by letting those expectations overshadow what's going on in the real world).

RIP, Mr. Hughes. You did good.

August 07, 2009 11:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

Turns out my favorite Hughes film is one that I didn't know was a Hughes film until this week: Mr. Mom

But I have to agree with Grish that the first Vacation movie is up there as well.

The rest of his movies never did much for me.

August 08, 2009 2:22 PM  
Blogger Miss Healthypants opined...

I think my fav is "Breakfast Club"--but Ferris Bueller is definitely my second choice! :)

RIP, John Hughes.

Also, Rainey, just so you know, we got that blasted heat now! It's like 95 degrees here--yikes!

Well, at least we have air conditioning. :)

August 09, 2009 5:28 PM  

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