If I were to take the time and figure out a list of my most very favorite movies of the 1980s, you’d find all of the following on said list:
- The Breakfast Club (1985)
- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
- National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
- Mr. Mom (1983)
…and if I were to extend this list with other movies from the Eighties which I really enjoyed but couldn’t necessarily count as “among my favorites,” you’d see:
- Sixteen Candles (1984)
- Weird Science (1985) (Yes, really.)
- Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
That’s a pretty impressive list, especially for covering only a six-year span. Every one of those movies was written (and some were directed) by John Hughes, who passed away yesterday.
Hughes didn’t look down on nerds, unlike so many of his contemporaries. In fact, Hughes celebrated them (mainly through his nerdly avatar, Anthony Michael Hall) and showed us — or, rather, showed all of you who weren’t nerds in the 1980s — that they were real people, too, and their stories deserved to be shared just as much as the pretty people’s do. Even iconic “cool kid” Ferris Bueller was really a nerd at heart: he might have gotten a computer instead of a car for his birthday, but he used that computer to hack into the school’s computer and change his number of absences, a very nerdy thing to do.
Of all of Hughes’ movies, The Breakfast Club most particularly spoke to me (and many others like me, I’m sure), in no small part because I was basically the same age as its characters when I first saw it. That movie was the first time I can recall that I was presented the idea that we are all freaks in some way, we are all of us different, no matter how “normal” we may look on the outside. I remember a couple of long walks from my house with my dad to get milkshakes at McDonald’s, and we’d talk about that movie and the characters and what it meant and how it related to me and my friends.
So thank you, John Hughes, for creating so many characters I could relate to when I was a teenager, and for creating so many movies I enjoyed so much. You can be sure my kids will be watching your teen-oriented movies when they’re teenagers themselves — which will be thirty years after those movies came out — and that’s a fantastic legacy for you to have. (Of course, my kids adore Beethoven, which you also wrote, so they’re already in love with your work.) Rest well.