John Hughes might not have invented teen movies, but he certainly perfected them. His films gave us a world of nerds, jocks, misfits and rebels that informed an entire generation’s coming-of-age. The simple formula he cultivated in his 1980s hits like Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Sixteen Candles and Some Kind of Wonderful and remains the standard to which all teen movies since have aspired.
Hughes’ sudden passing at age 59 from a heart attack Thursday leaves a legacy of films that practically defined a genre. He also gave us a teenage Molly Ringwald. I know there are more important cultural contributions, but at this moment of extreme nostalgia they simply escape me.
It’s easy to dismiss his work because of its popularity. Granted, they were no teenage Citizen Canes. But movies don’t stay beloved and catchphrases don’t stay current by simply exploiting a fad. His films were goofy, but never too raunchy. They were sweet, but they were rooted in reality. Most importantly, they just got teenagers.
What still sets them apart from today’s teenage tripe, is that most featured strong female leads. While Molly was his most often used muse, he gave us a galaxy of fantastic young actresses from Ally Sheedy to Mary Stuart Masterson, Mia Sara to Jennifer Grey.
And what was nice about his leading ladies what they were all, at least somewhat, attainable. They were beautiful for sure but still girls you might, if lucky, find walking down your high school hallway. OK, fine, maybe not Kelly LeBrock.
So thanks, John. Thanks for Andie and Duckie, Claire and Allison, Ferris and Sloane, Watts and Amanda. Don’t worry, we won’t forget about you.
What are your favorite John Hughes movies? Moments? Characters? Lines? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?