The king of 80s movies

Think of 80s movies and you won’t have to think long before a John Hughes film comes to mind. Especially if you were a teenager watching films with American teens angsting over the growing up experience.

For many years his track record was untouchable. As writer or director he was responsible for

  • Pretty In Pink
  • The Breakfast Club
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  • Home Alone (1990 but I’m classing it as 80s)
  • Uncle Buck
  • Planes, Trains & Automobiles
  • Weird Science

And others.

Not all classics, but several are in my top 80s films, and two are in my best films ever category (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Planes, Trains & Automobiles).

He knew how to write teen characters which resonated with the audience. They weren’t the stereotypes of jock, nerd, airhead or diva. Indeed The Breakfast Club makes a point of stating how those easy labels don’t apply in the real world.

Hughes wrote quickly. Many trivia sections on the IMDB include how he wrote the film in x number of days. Writing quickly shouldn’t be seen as him rushing the films off, merely that he knew what worked and how to get to the point with the minimum of fuss.

He also knew how to make a good joke on screen. Even his non-comedies contain plenty of humour, and his comedy film, at their best, bring laughs no matter how often they are watched.

I’m not sure why I’m writing this. Partly it’s because we’ve recently re-watched both The Breakfast Club and Planes, Trains and Automobiles, and partly it’s because I don’t think John Hughes gets enough recognition.

Now teen comedies mean gross-out jokes, sexual gags and often lazy stereotypes. I’m not complaining, if that’s what 14-year olds want then good luck to them, but I do wish there was someone out there making successful teen films which credited the audience with some intelligence. Telling them growing up is about finding your place in the world, questioning the accepted ways of doing things, and not allowing yourself to be pigeon-holed.


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