It’s apt that John Hughes’ “The Breakfast Club” would be granted a Criterion release, as it’s still one of the most riveting character studies ever released. While it’s often imitated, Hughes’ 1985 drama stands alone as a hallmark of simplicity, grabbing a cast at the top of their game in a decade, offering up truly remarkable performances in already seasoned careers. “The Breakfast Club” was basically “The Big Chill.” Except for a drama being about people in the middle of their lives, we’re able to sit down for ninety minutes with five young people at the beginning of their lives pondering on what they could become as adults, what they don’t want to become as adults, and what they fear they will become as adults.
Set on a cold Saturday morning, five teenagers have to sit out the morning in detention in their school. Alongside their obnoxious principal, the totally different individuals hope to run out the clock, but end up bonding and learning something about each other. Hughes assembles a juggernaut eighties cast with folks like Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, and Emilio Estevez who plays the jock quite well, considering he’s mostly played punks and rebels. As I’ve written in the past, “The Breakfast Club” is a brilliant character piece about changing perceptions about ourselves, and challenging the perceptions that have been placed on us. Even someone like Bender, who is stuck in an abusive household, will leave school with the image of a criminal and potential gang member, when really all he wants is someone to understand what he’s going through every day.
Bender’s attitude is very calculated in that there’s a clear reason for why he’s so aggressively annoying when we first meet him. Sheedy’s own character Allison uses her eccentricities as a means of warding off unwanted company. She, like Bender, plays a character and submits to pre-conceived ideas about her. But by the end, she tries to change their perceptions of who she is. Every individual in the movie plays a character, even when they’re alone in the company of people they’ve never met nor socialize with. Hughes’ drama is incredibly compelling, complex, and there will likely never be anything like it again.
Criterion grants “Breakfast Club” a well deserved release and includes an audio commentary featuring stars Anthony Michael Hall and Judd Nelson that was carried over from the 2008 “Flashback Edition” release. There’s some considerably light chatter, but it’s still worth viewing. Criterion records brand new interviews with stars Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy, both of which run over ten minutes. The pair reflects on their time filming the movie and their time with Hughes. There’s also a brand new video essay featuring director John Hughes own production notes, as read by former collaborator Judd Nelson.
There’s also a great documentary from 2015 with interviews with the cast and crew, as well as fifty minutes of never before seen deleted and extended scenes. There’s a slew of rare promotional material and archival interviews, as well as footage, as well as excerpts from a 1985 AFI seminar with Hughes. There’s a 1999 radio interview with Hughes, segments from a 1995 episode of “NBC’s Today Show” with the film’s original cast, there’s an audio interview with Molly Ringwald from a 2014 episode of “This American Life,” and finally an original trailer. The Package comes with the original poster art for the film, and Criterions trademark liner note booklet, with an essay by critic David Kamp.