The Breakfast Club is one of those movies that’s held up as a ‘cult classic’. The birthplace of the modern teen movie. A witty and emotional treatise on being a young ‘un.
But no. Actually, it’s a dull, unfunny, and self-worthy film about a group of high school students who you would not tire of slapping.
Let’s get down to basics. The Breakfast Club is about five kids in detention. One’s a jock, one’s a nerd, one’s a bad guy, a borderline-mentalist and the school’s princess. The principal locks them in the library and eventually they realise that they’re all deeper than the stereotypes that they’ve been sent to bat for.
Which, frankly, is an annoying message to be given. If you locked those people in a room, they would just give each other abuse, not learn something from each other. The characters themselves are deeply annoying – the mental case/mild goth irritant Ally Sheedy represents everything that’s annoying about people who want to be outsiders, and John Bender, the bad apple, looks like he’s about 30, and is the least threatening bully I’ve ever seen. Looks like Sam the Eagle, talks like an extra in a Godfather rip-off.
That these are the only 5 people you really get to deal with means that their problems are magnified to an almost unbearable level. And because there’s just these 5 kids, there isn’t much in the way of drama. Just chit-chat.
And the underlying tone of the film, the idea that these kids have what they call ‘attitude’, grates quickly. They just seem a bit sarcastic and moody, and that’s not what I want from my teen movie. I want men having intercourse with pies and copious swearing, not shoe-gazing whingers locked in a library.
Yet the end credits are filled with a sense of euphoria, and a feeling that something has changed. That’s the fault of a bunch of ugly Glaswegians called Simple Minds.
The classic Don’t You Forget About Me, originally and unbelievably offered to punk-y crooner Billy Idol and smooth-as-sil Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry, is a great piece of pop-rock. It starts with a huge smack of a drum, and then it all kicks off. ‘Hey-hey-hey’s and big chords fly about the place like it ain’t no thang, and it’s the triumphant ending that The Breakfast Club wants. A shame that the movie doesn’t live up to it…
Listen to Don’t You Forget About Me, by Simple Minds