Just as I was starting to get the my-pain-is-so-dull-and-constant-and-too-embarrassingly-unexplainable-tearless-but-utterly-exhausting-crying over MJ under control, I got word that we had lost another beloved icon of the 80s. Oh, where to begin…
I may have come of age in the 90s, but utter the words ‘John Hughes movie’ to anyone in my generation, and you will undoubtedly be met with broad smiles. His are films of romantic grandeur, grounded by heartbreaking honesty, especially in his presentation of adolescent angst and familial dysfunction… awkward and generously funny, but always with an obvious warmth, a sort of cinematic embrace of juvenile frailty and imperfection. It is the painful paradox of young adulthood… where that gap –between how we see ourselves and how others see us– could never seem any wider. John always seemed to understand that, and his films capture teenage anguish and absurdity with equal clarity, without ever devolving into nauseating melodrama, even if some might make less sense now (Upon repeated viewings, Pretty in Pink is actually kinda weird… and Ducky’s just a little bit creepy, not adorable).
But even through the filter of my adult brain, I still feel that swell of happiness when Ducky saves Andie from the mortifying fate of attending the prom ALONE. I celebrate when, after sneaking in a full day of leisure, Ferris is saved from expulsion by his angry embittered sister, the most unlikely of allies. I totally swooned over Jake Ryan (hi hottie!). I, at one time, could recite the entire letter left for Principal “Dick” Vernon by The Breakfast Club. I think I can still recite that scene where John Bender does that impression of his parents (Go fix me a turkey pot pie!). And just as an honorable mention, Some Kind of Wonderful was a highly underrated film. Also… Hughes is responsible for Planes, Trains & Automobiles. Need I go on?
My man, A.O. Scott (awesome article) likens Mr. Hughes’ narratives to fables, and I’m inclined to agree. The fact that ‘John Hughes Movies’ have garnered their own moniker, even though he only directed eight films over his long career (he wrote many more), is evidence enough of a truly endearing and distinctive style, beginning with his cast:
“…And above all, of course, Molly Ringwald, the ginger-haired teenager who, from 1984 to 1986, was for Mr. Hughes what James Stewart had been for Frank Capra at the end of the Great Depression, and what Anna Karina had been for Jean-Luc Godard in the mid-’60s: an emblem, a muse, a poster child and an alter ego. Especially in “Sixteen Candles” and “Pretty in Pink” (directed by Howard Deutch from Mr. Hughes’s script), she represented his romantic ideal of the artist as misfit, sensitive and misunderstood, aspiring to wider acceptance but reluctant to compromise too much.”
* note to all rom-com helmers: make your leading ladies more like that, less like this.