Back-to-school movies, in the style of John Hughes

By Maria Reis

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A new year has started, but very little about school has changed. Studying till late hours, procrastination and social drama are among the many aspects of school that students worry about each year. Hollywood has often tried to place these issues on the silver screen, but no filmmaker has been more successful in capturing the nuances of high school than John Hughes. Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, Hughes directed many notable “Brat Pack” flicks that are perfect for back-to-school viewings.

Sixteen Candles

“Sixteen Candles,” John Hughes’ 1984 directorial debut, marked the beginning of  realistic teenage movies in Hollywood. The film follows sophomore Sam (Molly Ringwald) as she deals with her family forgetting her birthday, visiting grandparents and pining over an unrequited crush. Most adults in the film are complete caricatures, but “Sixteen Candles” is a witty movie that succeeds in depicting the frustrations and embarrassments of being a teenager. A feel-good movie with strong, charming performances, “Sixteen Candles” may not seem as innovative as it was when it first came out, but it definitely started a positive trend in coming-of-age movies.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

"Ferris Bueller's Day Off," one of John Hughes' "Brat Pack" films, is a classic back-to-school film. Photo courtesy

For one of the most unrealistic portrayals of a high school student skipping school captured on film, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” offers plenty of laughs. Considered a classic among the “Brat Pack” flicks, the film follows senior Ferris Bueller as he fakes sick to skip school and enjoy a sunny day in the city of Chicago with his best friend and his girlfriend. The movie doesn’t depict teenagers with condescension, and it delivers some hysterically eccentric lines, while also shedding light on how out of touch adults can be with teenagers. With the new loss of credit policy, “Bueller” fans shouldn’t try to reenact the film, but it allows for some wishful thinking.

The Breakfast Club

Five students from different cliques are forced to spend eight hours together at detention. So begins the story of the 1985 drama “The Breakfast Club,” a film that portrays the compassion and understanding of some teenagers that many adults overlook. Though the film is pretty predictable, it offers clever commentary on the similar problems all high school students face, from peer pressure to narrow-minded teachers. “The Breakfast Club,” apart from being a warm and funny film, is a great reminder that students shouldn’t be so quick to place labels, especially on themselves.

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