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The Breakfast Club (1985)

Updated on May 6, 2016


Released in 1985 and written and directed by John Hughes, The Breakfast Club showcases the lives, dilemmas and pressures of five teenagers, studying at Shermer High School in subarban Chicago, who're summoned for an all-day Saturday detention for different offences.

The teenagers are shown to come from very different 'cliques' and at first, nobody really understands whether they have anything in common - but it is slowly revealed that each of them is actually a lot more than their respective stereotype in school and they all face deep, common underlying issues in their lives which eventually manage to strengthen their bonds with each other by the day's end.

The Breakfast Club was met with critical acclaim and was both a commercial and critical success and is known as not only the best film by John Hughes, but also the best film made in its genre (i.e. Teen/high school flicks).

Thanks to the film, Scottish pop-rock group Simple Minds were also propelled to international stardom, when their song "Don't You, Forget About Me" was chosen as the movie's theme song.

The film starred Molly Ringwald (as the Claire, the 'princess'), Emilio Estevez (as Andrew Clark, the 'jock or athlete'), Anthony Michael Hall (as Brian, the 'brain'), Paul Gleason as the school's principle and sort of the film's antagonist, Mr. Vernon, John Kapelos, as the school's janitor, with Ally Sheedy (as Alison, the 'basket case') and Judd Nelson (as John Bender, the 'criminal') - the characters of the 5 children helping coin the term 'Brat Pack'.

Talks about a remake were in the offing, however since both John Hughes and Paul Gleason died during the late notties, plans for a remake have been abandoned, as both fans and critics and even the actors themselves (with Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez and Ally Sheedy now in their 50s) maintaining that it is best to leave the movie the way it is so that it is remembered for what it is.

The Breakfast Club - Trailer

The Beginning

"And these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations - They're quite aware of what they're going through"

This quote by David Bowie which immediately follows the opening credits (with Simple Minds' "Don't You Forget About Me" playing in the background) essentially served as the underlying tone of the movie - the idea and message to the audience being that no amount of excess authority and brainwashing of teenagers by their parents or teachers will ever mold them into what they're expected to be.

During the opening scene, a voice over by Brian Johnson (The 'brain') depicts him writing to the school's principle, that he strongly objects the punishment at detention being that him and the other 4 of his schoolmates have to write an essay about who they think they are, as it would be pointless because Mr. Vernon, the Principal of the school has already made his conclusions about who he thinks the 5 children are.

On March 24 1984, the 5 kids are shown to arrive at the school for the 9 hour detention period, with Claire, the 'princess' being dropped off by her father in his BMW 6-series revealing her offence for detention was to go shopping during school hours; Andy, the 'jock' being dropped off by his overbearing father who tells him to not repeat this mistake again as he'll risk his scholarship but boys do screw things up and that he screwed up when he was young too but didn't get caught; Brian, the 'brain' is dropped off by his equally overbearing mother who orders him (in front if his little sister) to make every moment he has during detention to study; Alison, the 'basket case' is dropped off by her family without even saying a word and Bender, the 'criminal' simply walking into the school by himself.

As the five kids make their way to the library-hall, they're greeted by Mr. Vernon, who at 7:06 AM, orders each of them to write a 1000 word essay, describing who they think they are and complete it by 4:00 PM the same day and hand it back in - During this time, the children are ordered to not speak or leave their seats and will undergo regimented breaks to go to the bathroom, or for eat and drink.

First Interactions

As detention begins, it begins to get clear that John Bender is a regular guest at Saturday detention - especially by way of how he detests Mr. Vernon, the school's principal and how Vernon detests him.

However, due to John Bender's street experience in life and the kind of people he deals with both inside and outside school, he's quickly able to read the other 4 of his schoolmates and rip through their cliches.

Bender is a repeat-offender within the school, and as the movie progresses, it is revealed he was detained due to possession of marujana and other offences and has on more than one occasion, risked being sent to a juvenile correctional facility due to his transgression.

Bender also expresses an ingrained dislike for Andy, the 'jock', who's the other alpha-male of the group and Claire, who he sees as a spoiled rich brat who is actually a good for nothing if it wasn't for her rich parents - with Bender repeatedly insulting Andy for his unnecessarily aggressive attitude and Claire for her pretentious image - with Bender proving to both Andy and Claire that both of them have strained relationship with their parents despite what they'd like the world to believe; with Claire confessing her parents use her for their own motives against each other.

Andy and Bender also almost come to blows on a couple of occasions over Claire and Bender revealing to Adny that he's a liar if he says he gets along with his parents.While Bender retreats from a physical altercation, it is revealed he's actually carrying a knife and can kill Andrew if he wanted to, but cannot risk the legal repercussions.

Brian, the 'brain' is shown as the timid 'geek' who hates confrontation and is less of a target for Bender, but nevertheless, he also faces Bender's brutal truth-revealing insults, where it is shown he's an over-protected child who lacks the wisdom to survive the real world.

The only person who remains the quiet, silent observer during this charade is Alison, the 'basket case' who remains calm and aloof - but seems to actually be reading the whole situation better than everybody else, when she point blank asks Andrew while going to grab lunch, the real reason for why he was detained, when he initially cooks up a story about it to her - this also being the first time that she speaks during the movie.

The Breakfast Club - Bender's Analysis of the others

The Breakfast Club - Lunch Scene

Midday Connections

As the day progresses and the the initial tensions between Bender, Andy and Claire seem to dissipate, the kids begin to converse a bit more about their lives with the aim of getting to know each other and to also appreciate their mutual dislike for the way Mr. Vernon runs things and unite with each other every time he checks in on them.

As Bender further mocks Brian's upbringing as an over-pampered child, it is here that he confesses that he actually comes from an abusive household - revealing that the reasons for him being an 'outcast' is probably due to the problems he faces at home.

On Bender's suggestion, the 5 kids even make a run for it outside the library hall (in order to fetch Bender's stack of pot) and in an action packed sequence down the school corridors (with Wang Chung's song from the soundtrack, "Fire In the Twilight" playing in the background) - when they realize they're going to get caught. Bender sacrifices his own freedom (even within the confines of detention) by ejecting himself from the rest of the group (while giving them time to escape back into the hall). Vernon eventually catches up with Bender, and confines him to his room, where it becomes apparent that Vernon has actually developed a personal dislike for him (which reaches far beyond the context of a teacher-student relationship) and threatens him with assault even after Bender leaves school and becomes an adult.

In the meantime, Alison and Andy have a bit of a face-off, when Alison begins to reveal that there's more to her than what meets the eye - she's a pianist, can write with her toes and is a free-spirit who loves to travel but can't as her parents completely ignore her. Andy tries reaching out to her but is initially shot down before he tells her that by opening up her purse filled with hoarded possessions, she wants others to know what she's going through - it is here that Andy begins developing a connection with a most unlikely girl, in the form of Alison.

Bender eventually escapes Vernon's room when he goes to the toilet, and crawls back through the over-head air vents and falls back into the library-hall, with the other four defending and protecting him when Vernon comes in again to check on the ruckus.

Bender eventually takes back his pot from Brian (who'd hidden it in his underwear) and all the 5 kids manage to smoke a joint and get high, revealing a lighter side to each and every one of them. As they finish smoking and sit down together, they all begin to reveal more dilemmas about themselves and this is where tensions between Claire and Bender even reach boiling point.

Bender's confession

Vernon personally threatening Bender

The Breakfast Club - Marujana Scene

The Late Afternoon

As the kids finish smoking pot and gather around for a chat, they begin to get to know each other a bit more personally and begin to reveal (and to a degree) attack each other's stereotypes. It is here that its revealed that what each and everyone of them is worried about is that despite their obvious disagreements with their parents, they're eventually going to turn out like them as it just becomes unavoidable beyond a certain point in life.

Upon further and deeper conversations among themselves, Alison lies that she's a nymphomaniac and slept with her counselor and has Andy, Bender and Brian join her against Claire - forcing her to reveal that despite being one of the most popular girls in school, she's actually a virgin (going against the stereotype of her clique).. Alison then reveals that she's a virgin too and while she's not a nymphomaniac, she can be a compulsive liar but the reason she's in detention is because she simply had nothing better to do during the day.

It also seems that Claire and Bender have still not gotten over the tension that's been mounting between them since the morning, and it eventually becomes a full-blown showdown, with Bender once again insulting Claire about her pretentious and rich upbringing and her priorities revolving around 'meaningless' pursuits like jewelry, her dad spoiling her rotten and her quest to be even more popular thanks to the upcoming prom and warns her to never compare her feelings with his as he has a lot more demons to battle as compared to hers.

While Bender and Claire are biting each other's heads off, Andy reveals that he actually hates his father due to his over-competitive nature and the reason he was detained was because he assaulted a weaker schoolmate. As the children ponder over whether they'll ever be friends on the following Monday due to their stark differences, Brian and Claire also have a spat, when Claire reckons he doesn't understand the 'pressure' of peers which she and Andy face on a daily basis. It is here that Brian reveals that he understands pressure just as well as Claire, even if it isn't from the same basis - Brian reveals that his parents are academic perfectionists who want him to get straight A grades all the time, and due to his failing a 'Home Science/Shop' class, he'll only be getting a 'B' despite acing the rest of his subjects and to him, due to his parents, it is a humiliation. It is here he reveals he has even contemplated suicide and that the reason he was detained was due to a teacher finding a gun in his locker - the gun turning out to be a flare-gun which went off automatically.

The children learn to accept each other's differences and promise each other that they'll always acknowledge each other's presence in future and will always regard each other as friends, tearing down the walls between them.

The Breakfast Club - Andy's confession

The Breakfast Club - Bender mocks Claire

Karla DeVito - We Are Not Alone (The Breakfast Club Dance Scene)

The Final Moments

As the teenagers learn to accept each other's differences and overcome their dislike for each other's cliques, they begin acknowledging the feelings they have for each of friendship and in certain cases a bit more - Claire begins to develop romantic feelings for Bender while Andy and Alison embark on a similar venture too.

Claire gives Alison a thorough makeover which makes Andy immediately getting smitten by her - he promises her that she never needs to feel alone ever again; while Claire gives John a kiss on his neck, signalling her romantic interest in him.

They eventually agree that Brian, the 'brain' of the group should write the essay (which Mr. Vernon asked of them in the morning) on their behalf - ironically, the wordings of the essay being word for word with the words he spoke at the beginning of the movie, implying that an essay is unfair as Vernon has already and stubbornly concluded who they are within their respective cliques i.e. they are the 'brain', 'athlete', 'basket case', 'princess' and the 'criminal' and signs off the essay as 'Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club' and leaves the paper on a desk for Vernon to read.

The movie closes in on John Bender walking through the school playground before the end credits roll in with 'Don't You Forget About Me' followed by 'Heart To Hot To Hold' playing in the background.

The Breakfast Club - Alison's Makeover by Claire

The Breakfast Club - Final Scene

Please rate this review

5 out of 5 stars from 2 ratings of The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club for sale


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    • Hackslap profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks for the feedback grand old lady (if you say so hahaha) .. Breakfast club's ultimate message is indeed as simple as it begins ... but yes the sub-plots about each of the 5 characters is what made it so entertaining ...simplistic..yet entertaining ..

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      I loved The Breakfast Club and watched it many times. You did a great review of the film and it was fun watching the video sequences. Although the movie is the sum of its parts, watching its parts help you to better appreciate the collection of small details that made the movie so memorable.

    • Hackslap profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks for the feedback Janellegems :)

    • Janellegems profile image


      4 years ago from United States

      Great, detailed review and summary of this movie. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Hackslap profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Hi Flourish... You're lucky to have been able to watch this movie during the 80's as a teenager ... I'm jealous! .. Thanks for the feedback :)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      I loved this as a teen and now my teen has discovered how great it is. I enjoyed your recap, as it has been ages since I've actually sat down and watched it.

    • Hackslap profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks for the feedback! ..yes this movie's certainly an all time classic...

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      4 years ago

      A great review of this movie. I've seen it a couple of times and always find the actors and plot fascinating.

    • justmesuzanne profile image


      4 years ago from Texas

      I collect movies on VHS. You can get them now at the thrift store for 50 cents each and build a fantastic movie collection! :D

    • Hackslap profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks for the feedback Suzanne ! is one of my favourite movies too... I feel nostalgic now that you've mentioned the word VHS

    • justmesuzanne profile image


      4 years ago from Texas

      Love this movie. I saw it bunches of times in the theater when it was new and have it on VHS now! Voted up and awesome! :)

    • Hackslap profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I agree Mel .. somethings are best left the way they are so that we remember them that way

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from San Diego California

      I really loved this movie when it came out. It would be a sin to remake it. Great hub!

    • Hackslap profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Molly RIngwald's singing?? .. Hmmm I might check it out ...She's still hot :)

    • trusouldj profile image

      LaZeric Freeman 

      4 years ago from Hammond

      I so love Molly Ringwald. For those who don't know, she just released a Jazz CD.

    • Hackslap profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks Deborah!.. yes it is one of my favorites too! ..28 years on and Im still hooked

    • Deborah-Diane profile image


      4 years ago from Orange County, California

      Fabulous review. This is also one of my favorite movies of all time!

    • Hackslap profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks Vkwok!

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 

      4 years ago from Hawaii

      Nice review!

    • Hackslap profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks Minnetonka! .yes even almost 30 yrs on it still is as gripping as ever ... I hope they never ruin a classic by making a remake

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      4 years ago from Minnesota

      Wow, this is a awesome and thorough review of the 80's movie. It was one of my favorite movies back then. Great job :-)

    • Hackslap profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks for reading My Cook Book!

    • My Cook Book profile image

      Dil Vil 

      4 years ago from India

      Good review...


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