Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Has the Curtain Fallen Forever on Decent Teen Movies?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009
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When the news broke last week that writer/director John Hughes, 59, had died of a heart attack, I will admit that I got more than a little teary-eyed. Like most of my generation, I grew up with his films, and his marvelous dialogue still peppers my everyday speech. In fact, the day he passed away I had already quoted The Breakfast Club twice before I even heard the news.

Although he had given up on Hollywood years ago and had made countless entertaining films outside the adolescent-angst genre (Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Home Alone, just to name a few), while Hughes was alive there was still hope. Hope that one day he would return and do what he did best — write and direct a movie about what it is really like to be a teenager.

The pain, the heartbreak, the struggles, and the laughter, these integral elements were all present in Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful, Sixteen Candles and, of course, the mighty Breakfast Club.

Nobody did it like Hughes. He did not write teenage characters as one-dimensional, sex-crazed idiots because, as actor Judd Nelson confirmed, that is not how he saw them.

“John’s desire for the truth of the spoken word aligned perfectly with his gift for treating young people not as children but as developing adults,” Nelson said in a statement to Buzzine.

Hughes also had not forgotten those awkward years which, for many people, are the toughest of their lives. In an article she wrote for The New York Times, actress Molly Ringwald said that Hughes relived his teens through the characters he created in writing and nurtured through directing.

“In retrospect, I feel that we were sort of avatars for him, acting out the different parts of his life — improving upon it, perhaps,” Ringwald wrote. “In those movies, he always got the last word. He always got the girl.”

The teen movie has suffered so completely since Hughes retreated, it is no longer even worthy of a genre. There is no ache of first love, merely sex shenanigans with dessert foods. There is no dialogue, just profanity lazily used as adjectives. There is no trace of the sarcastic, clever comedy Hughes brilliantly wove into his screenplays, merely stereotypes who can barely tie their shoelaces.

No thanks — I’ll stick with Duckie’s side-splitting interpretation of “Try a Little Tenderness.”

Those who should be most offended by the pieces of drivel being marketed to young people is the target audience themselves. Is this how they want to be perceived as a generation? More importantly, is this how they see themselves? I hope not. In fact, I hope one of them will step up to the plate and do it right.

John Bender and Ferris Bueller would no doubt have endless fun tormenting the neo maxi zoom dweebies of today’s teen flicks, while Duckie cheered them on from the sidelines and Samantha Baker subjected them all to a severe sarcasm beat-down.

Below are some of my personal favorite John Hughes quotes. Please share yours in the comments.

The Breakfast Club

John Bender: What do you guys do in your club?

Brian Johnson: Well, in physics we...we talk about physics, properties of physics…

John Bender: So it's sorta social. Demented and sad, but social. Right?

John Bender: Hey, how come Andrew gets to get up? If he gets up, we'll all get up, it'll be anarchy!

Pretty in Pink

Andie: You know you're talking like that just because I'm going out with Blane.
Duckie: Blane? His name is Blane? That's not a name, it’s a major appliance.

Andie: Were you here long?
Duckie: No, no! Three, four... hours.

Some Kind of Wonderful

Laura Nelson: Check it out. This girl is popular, she's beautiful and, obviously, in the middle of some emotional shootout to consent to date the human tater tot. What did you do to her, Keith? Threaten her life?


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rhoffar said...

Anything from Long Duk Dong, Sixteen Candles, "Hey SECKSY GIRLFRIEND!"

Amanda Mitchell said...

"Ott-o-mobiiiiile?" =)

Yes, the Dongster is classic. Any more you want to share, rh?

Thank you for the nice comments, TeenChefgirl. I will definitely check out your site.

Emily Dawn said...

Some Kind of Wonderful
Keith: You can't judge a book by its cover.
Watts: Yeah, but you can tell how much it's gonna cost.
Keith: That's deep.
Watts: You want shallow, call Amanda Jones.

Watts: Speak of the she-devil.

The Breakfast Club
John Bender: I have such deep admiration for guys who roll around on the floor with other guys.

Pretty in Pink
Duckie: You know what an older woman does for me?
Iona: Changes your diapers?

Iona: I know I'm old enough to be his mother, but when the Duck laid that kiss on me last night, I swear my thighs just went up in flames! He must practice on melons or something

Duckie: I'm not particularly concerned with whether or not you like me, because I live to like you, and I can't like you anymore. So when you're feeling real low and dirty, and your heart is splattered all over hell, don't look to me to pump you back up 'cause maybe for the first time in your life I WON'T BE THERE!

I could quote entire films, there are so many great lines!

Amanda Mitchell said...

AHAHAHA! Love that John Bender line! Those are all great. A few more:

Iona: He's sulking.He's not gonna ride his bike past your house any more.

Sixteen Candles:

Mike Baker: What the hell are you bitchin' about? I gotta sleep under some Chinaman named after a duck's dork.

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