John Hughes’ iconic eighties drama has always remained a timeless favorite for me. It’s not just because he manages to speak to the teenage condition, but the human condition. Surely, “The Breakfast Club” still manages to speak waves about how teenagers lived back in the eighties, and how they still live today, but “The Breakfast Club” had something to say about being an adult and how the lessons we learned as a teenager would carry us in to adulthood, for better and for worse. The characters we meet in “The Breakfast Club” essentially find common ground in the way they approach life, and think about themselves, but when we part from them we never quite know where they’re headed.
Maybe they’re doomed. Maybe they use the experience during morning detention to find a way to change their lives. What’s made painfully clear is that these characters we meet in “The Breakfast Club” are forever prisoners of their own privilege and lack thereof, and may have to battle to break free from their chains. Unlike most films of this ilk, “The Breakfast Club” isn’t just a bunch of middle class Caucasians whining about how their lives didn’t turn out how they planned. They’re angry and bitter because their lives are being planned for them. Not a single character in the film has a grasp on their lives, and finds a downward spiral heading in their direction, that they have to really work toward avoiding.
They may end up torn and scarred, but I imagine only two of the characters here ended up changing their personal lives, and made it through with a much needed clarity. I know most fans of “The Breakfast Club” like to think of the ending as a happy one, but I view it mainly as a continuation in to a never ending battle for identity, for purpose, and for some sense of belonging. If anything is to be taken away from the fated meeting of a group of very unlikely high schoolers, it’s that if these characters can knock down stereotypes about their own lives, and manages to defeat a bunch of strangers preconceived notions, perhaps they can accomplish the same tasks in their own personal lives. That’s probably why we see character Bender pump his fists in the final scene of the film.
Surely, he might have somewhat gained the affection of the perfect woman, but he also managed to change the minds of a small group of people who won’t finish high school considering him a loser, thug, and potential criminal. Sure, “The Breakfast Club” garners an array of wonderful performances from folks like Judd Nelson, and Molly Ringwald, and the soundtrack is still incredible. But Hughes’ film lives on in the annals of teen cinema and the character study sub-genre, because it reaches deep down in to a group of people who engage in a battle the moment they enter in to morning detention. By the end, they’ve arguably won. If they can change four peoples’ perceptions about their lives, maybe they can conquer adulthood, and carve out the life they want, after all.