John Hughes was considered the master of teen oriented cinema in the 1980’s, often depicting somewhat lower middle class kids on the verge of adult hood. While the movies were raunchy and funny, they were also intent on building characters centered on self reflection and facing potentially dead end adult hoods. While “Weird Science” has mostly been lambasted as Hughes’ worst, I think I’d choose his debut “Sixteen Candles” as the weakest of his eighties outputs.
For high schooler Samantha Baker (Molly Ringwald), her 16th birthday might be the worst day of her life. Her entire family has forgotten about it due to her older sister s impending wedding; her biggest crush, high school hunk Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling) has discovered an embarrassing sex quiz filled out by Sam in which she details how she is saving herself for him; and to make matters worse, she is hounded by a relentless nerd who won t take no for an answer. But Sam s sweet sixteen isn’t over yet, and before the end of the night, all her birthday wishes could still come true.
While, yes, “Weird Science” is misogynist, it at least it had sense of awareness. “Sixteen Candles” is filled with sub-plots and feels directionless, even in the face of what are considered classic moments from the Hughes film library. Although Molly Ringwald is the film’s center as a young girl who finds her family forgetting her birthday as something of a mixed blessing, the only sub-plots that amount to anything is Jake Ryan’s. Anthony Michael Hall, in particular, plays Ted, a nerdy but slimy classmate who wants to prove his manhood to his two friends. As for Gedde Watanabe, he’s essentially a side character as Long Duk Dong, a foreign exchange student who catches the interest of an amorous female body builder, and manages to find out how to party like a real American.
The latter two don’t have much to do in the film except find personal accomplishments, all the while Sam and Jake separately go on personal journeys figuring out if they want more in life than what’s been handed to them. In particular, Jake is very bored with his current girlfriend whose obsession with popularity becomes quickly tiresome. The contrast between Sam and her sister Ginny (who apparently seems to have settled for husband) becomes a source of internal struggle, as she isn’t quite sure if she wants to emulate her going in to high school. “Sixteen Candles” is meandering and kind of dull and doesn’t quite manage to be as sweet as its romantic final scene. I’m not surprised it’s considered a classic.
I just don’t think it’s one of Hughes’ best.
For physical collectors the release from Arrow Video comes packaged with a nice slipcover of art representing the film’s final scene, and a very good insert booklet which contains stills, technical data, cast and crew information, and two interesting essays. The new Blu-Ray comes with the original theatrical version and the extended version which includes the mythical deleted scene in the cafeteria. There’s the option to watch only the additional scene for the Extended Version, and an alternate home video soundtrack which was altered due to licensing problems.
Casting Sixteen Candles with Jackie Burch is a new nine minutes interview with the film’s casting director, and When Gedde Met Deborah is a newly done nineteen minutes conversation which features Gedde Watanabe and Deborah Pollack. Rudy the Bohunk is a new six minutes interview with actor John Kapelos, while The New Wave Nerd is a fun new eight minutes interview with Adam Rifkin, who was an extra on the film and who shadowed John Hughes. The In-Between is a new eight minutes interview with camera operator Gary Kibbe, while Music for Geeks is a new eight minutes interview with composer Ira Newborn.
A Very Eighties Fairytale is seventeen minutes visual essay by Saraya Roberts, while Celebrating Sixteen Candles is a thirty eight minutes archival featurette from the film’s 2008 DVD release. Among the slew of Trailers and Promotional Spots, there’s the original Teaser, two Trailers, a minute of TV Spots, and thirteen minutes of Radio Spots. The Image Gallery comes packed with images of the Shooting Script, Production Stills, and finally Poster & Video Art.