The Breakfast Club is a 1985 American coming-of-age comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by John Hughes and starring Emilio Estevez, Paul Gleason, Anthony Michael Hall, John Kapelos, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy. The storyline follows five teenagers, each a member of a different high school clique, who spend a Saturday in detention together and come to realize that they are all more than their respective stereotypes, while facing a strict disciplinarian principal.
Critics consider it one of the greatest high school films of all time, as well as one of Hughes’ most memorable and recognizable works. The media referred to the film’s five main actors as members of a group called the “Brat Pack”.
The Breakfast Club’s title comes from the nickname invented by students and staff for morning detention at New Trier High School, the school attended by the son of one of John Hughes’ friends. Thus, those who were sent to detention before school starting time were designated members of “The Breakfast Club”.
The main theme of the film is the constant struggle of the American teenager to be understood, by adults and by themselves. It explores the pressure put on teenagers to fit into their own realms of high school social constructs, as well as the lofty expectations of their parents, teachers, and other authority figures. On the surface, the students have little in common with each other. However, as the day rolls on, they eventually bond over a common disdain for the aforementioned issues of peer pressure and parental expectations. The main adult character, Mr. Vernon, is not portrayed in a positive light. He consistently talks down to the students and flaunts his authority throughout the film. Bender is the only one who stands up to Vernon.
Stereotyping is another theme. Once the obvious stereotypes are broken down, the characters “empathize with each other’s struggles, dismiss some of the inaccuracies of their first impressions, and discover that they are more similar than different.”
The film’s poster, featuring the five characters huddled together, was photographed by Annie Leibovitz toward the end of shooting. The shot of five actors gazing at the camera influenced the way teen films were marketed from that point on. The poster refers to the five “types” of the story using slightly different terms than those used in the film, and in a different sequence, stating “They were five total strangers with nothing in common, meeting for the first time. A brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel and a recluse.”
The Breakfast Club Soundtrack