The Breakfast Club - Blu-ray Review

'Hughes' dialogue zings with humour, pathos and juvenile swagger, making his five high school detainees much more than the obvious social stereotypes out of which they are borne'

Reissued on Blu-ray to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its original release, The Breakfast Club achieves the rare feat of wholeheartedly retaining its undeniable 1980s aesthetic, whilst also transcending the time in which it was made through the deep-seated values it promotes and the universal themes it tackles.

Writer, producer and director John Hughes is arguably at his best here, opting for a play-like structure with much of the film's action restricted to one location - the school library - and making matters feel all the more refined and organic for it. Hughes' dialogue zings with humour, pathos and juvenile swagger, making his five high school detainees much more than the obvious social stereotypes out of which they are borne. The director's young cast match the strength of the script throughout, with each of the quintet have his or her stand-out moment. John Bender (Judd Nelson) may be the most memorable - or perhaps notorious - member of The Breakfast Club, but each character adds something to what Hughes is saying about young people, and the film would be weaker for losing any of them.

Hughes' concept is simple but effective: throw five students, most of whom would usually have nothing to do with each other, into a Saturday detention where they have no choice but to share a day together and realise they have more in common than they would have guessed. But what makes The Breakfast Club continue to resonate today is Hughes' perceptive deconstruction of human nature through his five assembled adolescents. Each initially dismisses the other as nothing more than what their outward appearance suggests, but through Hughes measured pacing and structure, the realisation of their shared anxieties and pressures is believable, touching and, for the most part, a captivating watch.

Aside from brief glimpses of a few parental figures at the very start, the film's adult contingent is shared between Assistant Principal Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason) and Carl (John Kapelos), the janitor. Whilst the former starts out as something of a caricature, Gleason steadily develops him into a character of genuine menace and duplicity; the latter meanwhile ensures that Hughes' film doesn't simply tar all grown-ups with the same brush, humbly presenting arguably the most balanced - and respected - adult figure in the lives of the five students.

There are missteps here. Most prominent of all is Allison's (Ally Sheedy) makeover courtesy of Claire (Molly Ringwald) in the closing scenes, which feels at best entirely unnecessary, at worst damaging to the message of individuality Hughes has promoted throughout the rest of the film. The way in which the director emphasises each student's social clique is also at times unnecessarily on the nose, such as during the lunch scene ("princess" Claire brings sushi complete with soy sauce, "basket case" Allison crafts her own sandwich out of sherbet sticks and breakfast cereal, and so on and so forth). But these are not enough to take away from Hughes obvious skill as a writer and director, nor his young cast's considerable talent. Thirty years on, The Breakfast Club holds up remarkably well as an essential early entry into teen cinema, and will no doubt continue to do so in the years to come.

The Breakfast Club is released on UK Blu-ray on Monday 6th April 2015.

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

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