I was heartbroken to hear that John Hughes passed away: Not only had Hughes shaped my generation in the 80s, but even today teens are rediscovering his films and identifying with them. It’s a bit too early to tell, but to me this hints that some of those films will without a doubt be seen as future classics in the years to come. And maybe that’s because there’s something for everyone to identify with in those films, the Breakfast Club is a great example of this which featured almost every teen archetype of the era. So without further ado here are ten reasons I admired John Hughes:
Hughes was at home in his time: Many boomer directors seem to be caught up in showing their coming-of-age experience, but Hughes set all of his films in the period that they were shot in. This made them speak much more to their audience who didn’t feel like they were being lectured too.
Hughes didn’t go Hollywood: Watching his films you knew that they were shot on location in the Midwest and not on some set in Hollywood, that gave his films a down to earth quality which made you identify with the characters and the situations in the film.
Hughes gave breaks to unknowns: Hughes sense of casting was just amazing, but beyond that he found some very talented young actors and knew how to showcase their talents.
Hughes had a gentle sense of humor: In an age of sarcastic cynicism Hughes never made you feel like you were laughing at his subjects, but rather laughing with them. He didn’t go for a cheap shot at the expense of a character, and that made you identify with a character.
Hughes made the outcast into the hero: If you look at the protagonists in his films they’re always in second place! The best example is that in Sixteen Candles Molly Ringwald plays the younger sister who isn’t getting married, yet she’s the star of the film.
Hughes knew how to break the forth wall: A trademark of his films is that the characters would talk to the audience, which gave the audience a reason to identify with the protagonist on the screen.
Hughes had great taste in music: I can’t think of the Breakfast Club without Simple Minds singing “Don’t You Forget About Me!” It’s important that the music was never in a Hughes film to be cool and of the moment, but it always expanded the storyline. And like his actors he tended to pick unknowns that you wouldn’t have heard before. This was so true that I found myself buying the soundtrack to She’s Having a Baby just to get one song off the album!
Hughes knew how to mix comedy with drama: While he did comedy films, the magic of Hughes teen films is that they’re a wonderful mix of serious situations and humorous moments. In fact I think Hughes was at his best when he mixed it up, which why his comedy films weren’t quite as strong.
Hughes wasn’t afraid to try something new: By 1987 Hughes had six solid teen films under his belt, he could have gone on making those for the rest of his life but instead he tried straight up comedy and even films for kids. Those films weren’t always his strongest but at least he was willing to try, which is something that most Hollywood directors would never do.
Hughes was a damn good writer even when he wasn’t directing: His writing credits stretch all the way from Mr. Mom in 1983 to Maid in Manhattan in 2002. All those films are just a bit better for having him involved, it gives them that extra spark which otherwise wouldn’t have been there.