WHAT I LIKED: John Hughes' 'The Breakfast Club,' is an insanely smart character study that places five wildly different teens in a detention and has them slowly unravel and understand each other in front of us. They begin as strangers; a recluse, a nerd, a jock, a popular girl and a wrongun called John who's there to shake things up. The screenplay makes clear that they're initially judging each other, but as they find themselves increasingly bored out of their minds - and after John offers some solace in the form of a few reckless activities - they're drawn to ask questions about each other's lives. They slowly realise they have plenty in common, and in a touching and climactic conversation, they unpick the reasons they are who they are, and why they're usually bound into their own little cliques.
That only translates though because of how well it's performed, and because of how well Hughes writes his young characters. Often in pop culture, teens are only portrayed as the caricatures that they are at the start here, but this script seems to understand the tough balances so many people who are coming of age struggle with. There's the constraints and expectations - or in some cases, seeming indifference - of the parents they're trying to live up to, the trappings of peer groups, the sheer will and yet utter fear of growing older, and the heartbreaking feeling that they're completely alone in their adolescent struggles. The arc these people are sent on by this existential situation is largely about discovering they they're certainly not alone, and that's a pretty moving thing to watch.
It has to be said that is impressive how all of that is unlocked throughout the course of one day and in one location, but in a way it's the perfect way to do it, as the film is free from the necessities of plot, and can instead focus every ounce of its being to its characters. By the end, you not only truly understand them, but the face they're all so different means you're also reminded of the coming of age experience that all young people experience.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Sure, the revelations about these characters' inner turmoils aren't necessarily shocking, but it's the fact they share them with the others that makes their arcs so touching.
VERDICT: A genius script that devotes its entire time to five very different teens unpicking each other's characters, 'The Breakfast Club,' is not only a great character-study; it's also able to say something about what all teens go through.