“The Breakfast Club” on the Royale With Cheese Movie Club

Are you serious, Chuck? You’ve NEVER seen “The Breakfast Club,” not once, not ever? Do you know what Molly Ringwald does with her lipstick?  Or when Judd Nelson and Emilio Estevez get in that fight over –

If I “knew” all these things, I wouldn’t need to see the film, now would I?

Nearly 30 years have gone by, and I never saw this film.  I don’t know why – maybe I wasn’t a fan of the “Brat Pack” films, or maybe I just didn’t get into John Hughes movies.

Tell you, though… after watching the movie this morning – yes, I do write blog posts at 4 in the morning – I’m really sorry I didn’t see this film when it first came out.

The movie starts out with five disparate archetypes, five characters in search of an exit, five conflictions trapped in a room and forced to deal with the stereotypes conscripted upon them.  Let’s face it.  You know every one of these characters from your high school.  I bet you were one of those characters.  Maybe you were a combination of two or more.

And the thing is, the standard high school in-school suspension tactic, where you’re forced to write essays and study and contemplate your failures – or at least those failures that society thinks you have fostered upon yourself – works for these five students.  Not in the way that one would expect – “writing an essay will make you a better person” – but, instead, how each one of these students acts as each others’ therapists, confidantes, coaches and confessors.  They’ve been through the wars.  Their façades of wealth and toughness and brains and brawn and quirkiness are worn down, one by one, moment by moment, to reveal five fragile souls.  Souls damaged by overachieving parents and demanding teachers, damaged by their perceptions of what makes a successful person and the fears of becoming the adult authorities that they so secretly loathe.

I knew people who could have been the Breakfast Club in college.  I knew the types of pressure that these students went through.  Heck, I went through a lot of it myself, and those of you who read my blog know this to be true.  And what started out for each character in the film as, “Oh, that’s Emilio Estevez playing a high school jock,” or “Oh, that’s that guy from Weird Science playing a nerd,” evolved into, “Oh, that’s someone I knew from Hamilton College who put so much pressure on himself to succeed, that he almost flunked out from the stress,” or “I knew that bully from Abington High School – School 11 of the Twelve – who took the abuse his parents gave him and forced that abuse onto his classmates, because he needed an outlet before he cracked himself.”

Maybe this film is a comedy.  There are a couple of funny moments in the film. But I didn’t see The Breakfast Club as a comedy.  I saw it as a character study.   I saw it as a voice for those of us who felt out of place, who didn’t fit in with the jocks or the socs.  I guess those of us needed a film like The Breakfast Club, if for no other reason than the film spoke to us directly and let us know, hey – everything’s going to be okay.  We’re different, we’re distinct, heck we’re damaged too.  But we don’t have to travel down that path, walking on that treadmill to oblivion, traveling that lonely road from womb to tomb, from birth to earth.”

I wonder if The Breakfast Club spoke to you in that same way.  Maybe there was a character in that film that you knew in high school.  Or maybe – just maybe – you were a Bender.  A Claire.  An Allison.  A Sporto.  Or a Brian.

Just as long as you weren’t a Vernon.  Or a Carl.