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“The Breakfast Club”- A Portrayal of High School Life

“The Breakfast Club”- A Portrayal of High School Life

                Everyone before high school and after high school has their image of what it is or was. For every high school there is your typical jock, prom queen, weirdo, nerd, trouble maker, and that one teacher or principal that you just hated. In producer and director John Hughes’ 1985 movie, “The Breakfast Club,” an interpretation of what life in high school is like, is presented. He successfully illustrates the typical stereotypes you find in high school. There is Claire “the Princess,” Andrew “the Jock,” Allison “the Nutcase,” Brian “the Brain,” Bender “the Criminal,” and lastly there is Principal Vernon. Through comedy, drama, and intense conversations, it is shown how five completely different people can end up helping each other out, and how those characters represent what high school is truly like.

                    Every school has its prom queens and its jocks; the most popular girl and guy in school. Claire, “the princess” is your perfect example in this movie. She is the pretty rich girl that hangs out with the popular kids. Daddy buys her whatever she wants, and the reason she is in Saturday school, is because she ditched to go shopping. In the group’s little smoke out, Claire even confesses: “Do you know how popular I am? I am so popular, everyone just loves me.” She is dressed in pink like you would expect and brings her fancy sushi lunch to the sitting.

                      Andrew Clark, “the jock,” is the competitive, wrestling-is-his-whole-life type. He walks in wearing a varsity jacket, and has a zip up jacket underneath with a sports tank under that. He is very competitive from the beginning, and his conflicts with Bender prove him to be. He challenges Bender, and threatens to beat him down if he does not stop his shenanigans. His life seems to be revolved around wrestling, and depends on it for an athletic scholarship. His dad is right there cheering him on, but at the same time edging him on, as his own personal, not wanted, coach.

                      “The nutcase,” Allison, is the extreme weirdo. She immediately outcasts herself by walking straight to the back desk and turns her back on everyone else. She shows up with more than enough dark colored articles of clothing on, completely covered up, black hair messed in her pale face. She pretends to be a nymphomaniac, and puts pixie stix and cereal in her sandwich. She hardly talks through half the movie, making nothing but squeaking noises. The reason she is in Saturday school she reveals, is because of nothing. She says she had had nothing better to do. Who goes to Saturday school for no reason? Yes, that is weird.

                    Brian, the “nerd” or “the brain,” is a scrawny, boyish looking, sweater wearing character. He is in all the “nerdy” clubs: the science club, the physics club, the math club, the chess club, etc. He sucks up to Principal Vernon whenever he walks into the room, and his mother worries that Saturday school will mess up his academic career. During his time in detention his mom tells him he better find some way to study, even though all they are provided with is a pencil and paper to write an essay on.

                  Then there is Bender, the most extreme character of them all. John Bender is “the criminal”; the trouble maker that got put in Saturday school for pulling the fire alarm. He numerously back lashes at the principal making smart-ass remarks, pissing the principal off enough to give him detention the rest of the school year. He brings a knife to detention and almost gets into a fight with Andy. He curses and yells and throws things around. He walks in with his leather boots, dirty jeans, jean jacket, and long black trench coat, earring in his ear, and shoulder length tossed to the sides hair. He constantly harasses Claire and pushes Brian around. He is the ultimate badass.

                    Lastly there is Principal Vernon, the tyrant of them all. He tries to present himself in this strong, tough, authoritative way, but really he is just a big laugh to the kids. He wants nothing more than for them to sit and not move an inch during their session. For eight hours all they are to do is think about their errors then write an essay about it. (Talk about boring). He threatens Bender in secret, and lashes out how he has no hope for him. In private with the janitor, he says how he once cared about the kids, but thinks they have turned on him, so in return he just does not give a crap. Behind his back the student talk about him as if he is just a big joke and some sort of wannabe that has nothing better to do with his life.

                    Hughes manages to get away with witty humor throughout the movie, and with remarks that we can all relate to. At the same time he uses the humor, and intense conversations to slowly bring them all together. They learn more and more about each other in unusual ways. The reason that Bender acts so hard, is because that is the way he has it at home. In a mimic of his home life Bender portrays his parents back and forth. His dialogue is too inappropriate to mention here, but let just say his voice of his dad uses every swear word you could think of, in describing his son, and the end of his little act is Bender’s head flying back, mimicking what his father does when he back talks; I think you get the picture. Upset from his own display he out lashes, throwing things around, and runs to the back of the library, heavily breathing and closing his eyes for some sort of comfort.

                       Claire, which you have pictured her to be this rich, popular, perfect, gets everything she wants girl, has a story behind her. Her parents use her to get at each other, and she fears that it will all end in divorce. She says neither one of them “gives a shit” about her. She breaks down after the little smoke out session, crying that she doesn’t like doing everything her friends do, and presents a clear picture of peer pressure. Being the most popular in school, everyone had expected Claire to not be a virgin. After trying to hide whether or not she has, the pressure from the group ranting about it leads Claire to reveal in an out burst that it is not true; she has never done it. The pressure of sex is very real in high school, and is just another aspect of high school life that Hughes is able to incorporate into his movie.

                 Come to find, the jock, whose whole life revolves around wrestling, actually wishes he injured his knee or something, so that he could not compete anymore. His father antagonizes him time after time, and is the main force behind his wrestling. His father is actually living through him, pushing him to win, like he wants. The pressure from his father is just too much and in a monologue of his own, perhaps the longest of the session, he really breaks down on the pressure that a teenager could feel from his or her parents.

                As for Allison, the nutcase, her home life is “unsatisfying” as she puts it. She seems to suffer from neglect, as from the beginning when she is dropped off at the school, you see her get out of the car, and then the car speed off before she even closes the door all the way. She carries around a big bag with junk in it, just in case she ever needs to run away. Her weirdness and reasons for claiming she is a nymphomaniac are clearly her reaching out for attention, due to the neglect she receives at home. It shows that there are people in high school who do not have perfect lives and that these people should be noticed. Of course, her and Claire, total opposites, conflict in the movie.

                      Brian, the nerd that has to be perfect academically, is not perfect at everything. For someone that should have straight A’s, he is failing a class: woodshop. Academics seem to be all he knows, and as a result of his failure, his parents blow up over it. They won’t settle for anything less than an A. Towards the end, in an emotional outburst we find the reason Brian is in detention, is because a gun was found in his locker. He felt the pressure from his parents, and decided that the F he was getting in woodshop was such a failure that he wasn’t good enough; not good enough to live. He reveals that the gun was actually a flare gun, and the group can not help but let out a short spurt of laughter.

                     In the end, what results is a friendship and a life changing experience for all five of these students. Of course, as always in high school, love connections spark, but here in strange ways. Claire gives Allison a little make over, which catches Andrew’s attention. He had been interested in getting to know Allison throughout the movie, and what ended up happening when everyone went on their merry little way, was them kissing. And not to change her weirdness too much, she rips a patch off of Andrew’s jacket before departing each other. As for Bender, he somehow manages to win Claire over (maybe it is that theory that girls like bad boys), and they end up kissing at the end of the day. She places one of her diamond earrings in his hand before she gets in the car and leaves; he ends up putting it on his ear.

               All the problems that are presented in “The Breakfast Club,” are very real to what life in high school can be like. Hughes manages to incorporate all the different kind of pressures there are, from grades, to sports, to sex, and more. The scene after the group’s smoke-out session was the best scene and the perfect setting for bringing them all together and revealing how all the typical stereotypes don’t always show who a person really is. His portrayal of high school is probably an 8.5 from a scale of one to ten. He keeps it realistic while still making it entertaining. And perhaps that is what makes it entertaining and successful, is the little parts that we each individually can relate to. There is one question that I still am not sure about however, and tried figuring out throughout the movie: Why is it called “The Breakfast Club?” They don’t eat breakfast, and they are there for more than just a morning’s length of time. That is probably the hardest thing to relate in this movie, but it certainly does not take anything away from the movie itself. This is a movie for everyone and can certainly be put down on a list of must-see movies.

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  1. September 14, 2014 at 11:59 pm

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