Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it… deadpans a squeeky little Mathew Broderick to camera.
It’s a line I’ve heard and read and had quoted at me since I was 10. Before we all grew up and discovered that the titular character was really nothing but an annoying, manipulative, little punk, there was something about Ferris Bueller that made every high school kid want to skip school and tell the whole world they were “Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago” at fancy restaurants.
There was always another part of me that was horribly disappointed when my own detentions didn’t feature a dance off or shed any light on the jock, the cute quiet girl, the cool guy, the nerd or the priss at my own little town high school… of course, bringing Kelly Le Brock to life in my basement wouldn’t have been bad either.
The best thing about John Hughes’ films was that he made you jealous that his adolescences weren’t your own. It was brilliant, gutting and hilarious at the same time. The stead fast off-center cockiness of Duckie or Bueller made every shy guy itch uncomfortably, Pretty in Pink (and nearly every one of his films) made it completely acceptable to be a terrible dancer and even Cameron Fry’s depression and hypochondria is still oddly and warmly etched on to every 80’s kid’s mind.
His recent output has been less than genre defining but for me, one scene of Trains, Planes and Automobiles is enough to have Maid in Manhattan, Beethoven and Drillbit Taylor stricken from the books. His finest hour resets a loose copy of The Odd Couple on the road. A family man and a shower curtain ring salesman locked in to a journey from hell, Steve Martin delivering what could be his last great performance and the late great John Candy chalking up another of his…
So as I was about to sit down and watch The Breakfast Club one more time, I realised something has to be said.
It seems, in this age of bland, turgid, soulless, deplorable “moral”, teen fluff films, all of which I would love to see again… on fire, in a bin…. that the endearing beauty and pulse of genuinely affecting teen cinema has been all but lost. However, it can, forever be seen in some films set in a fictional town called Shermer, Illinois.
What Mr. Hughes did, in putting young, lost and most importantly, awkward characters into his little films was manage to manifest a sentiment in a generation that said proudly… uncool is cool.
Although, perhaps me and John were just uncool.