This weekend was the 30th anniversary of John Hughes’ high school coming of age drama The Breakfast Club, and I wouldn’t be a self respecting Gen X-er if I hadn’t forced everyone in the house under the age of 20 to watch it with me.
And by “force” I mean “promised we could eat dinner in the living room if I got to pick the entertainment.”
Our audience included my teenage and pre teen sons, and two sixteen year-old exchange students: Hanna, my little kitchen organizer, whom you’ve met, and Julia from Russia.
This was going to be good. I’d get all kinds of material in our post movie discussion about which to write. I was mentally doing that little finger-twiddling thing, the universal hallmark of maniacal schemers and bloggers.
Colin asked whether the movie was hugely popular at the time. I couldn’t remember. It could have been that or the fact it was later released on cable so we could watch it a bazillion times that summer. I looked it up. It was number three that year after Back to the Future and The Goonies, either of which by virtue of the comparable lack of profanity and smoking may have been more appropriate for the twelve year-old member of our audience.
Oh well, the things we do in the name of nostalgia. And blog fodder.
So … fast forward to the ending credits and my getting a little verklempt over that scene where Molly Ringwald gives her diamond earring to Judd Nelson and everyone is supposed to sigh because maybe there WILL be peace on earth, if high school princesses and scofflaws can find common ground.
“What did you all think?” I said with a nervous smile and a shrug, as if I was responsible for bringing the dang movie into being for crying out loud.
“It was weird.”
“I thought David Bowie was in this movie.”
“Eight hours of detention a Saturday, what’s that supposed to accomplish?”
“We still have those card catalogues in my school library.”
“I like it, mom.”
People. Seriously. We could have had a more interesting conversation about Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, MY personal favorite from 1985. Doesn’t “Neo Maxi Zoom Dweebie” hit a nerve for anyone anymore?
Apparently adolescent angst circa 1985 is not the conversation topic du jour with today’s teen set.
Among the lists of things I didn’t know about The Breakfast Club that have recently been circulating on this auspicious anniversary of the classic was the fact that the movie was originally envisioned as a launch for a series of spinoffs dedicated to each of the characters.
Which got me thinking about where each of them would be today.
I posed this question to the kids later – still hoping for good conversation – and they postulated about careers as science teachers turned meth producers, or mafia hit men. Such was the scope of their imagination. I prefer a little more elaboration. And so I give you …
The Breakfast Club: Where Are They Now?
John Bender – We all knew things weren’t going to go well for TBC’s bad boy, didn’t we? Immediately following the Saturday detention episode chronicled in the movie, Bender drops out of school and hawks Allison’s diamond to buy a motorcycle. He works odd jobs in various locations and gets by, always one step ahead of the law. After a particularly harrowing episode in which he sets his shoe on fire to light a cigarette, but also accidentally ignites his faux leather chaps, Bender returns home, kicks his neglectful parents to the curb, and enlists his former teacher and onetime nemesis Richard Vernon to create a home for wayward boys and erstwhile circus performers, teaching them the fine art of navigating through public buildings via duct space.
Andrew Clark – His aspirations for an athletic scholarship thwarted by a random drug test exposing his one-time dalliance with Mary Jane on that fateful Saturday, Andrew schleps his way through college via the more traditional route, earning a degree in education, and becoming a high school history teacher. For extra money he assists with the school wrestling team. He marries, puts on a few pounds and loses his hair. He and his wife have four children. All girls. None is interested in high school athletics.
Clair Standish – Miss popularity marries well after earning her degree in fashion merchandising. She manages to be fairly happy through twenty years taking care of children and attending PTA meetings, until her husband is indicted in a financial pyramid scheme in 2008, after which she divorces and makes her way as a specialized cosmetologist, instructing strippers and pole dancers in the application of lipstick with one’s cleavage as a stage act.
Brian Johnson – Our academic overachiever graduates summa cum laude from MIT and goes on to develop a computer software empire in Seattle. In his spare time he volunteers for the local community center, teaching gun safety.
Allison Reynolds – After a breakout performance art piece in which she slathers herself in Cheez Whiz and rolls in discarded toenail clippings, and the resulting (quite understandable) outrage from the processed cheese industry, Allison achieves a level of notoriety akin to Andy Warhol and is quite sought after by the anti-artificial-dairy-products faction. Uncomfortable with the spotlight, she changes her name to the number 8, marries her ferret, Linus, and takes up residence on a garbage schooner off the coast of Sri Lanka.
None of the group makes the time to return to Shermer, Illinois for their 30th High School reunion.
Don’t dis The Breakfast Club, even it it didn’t include David Bowie. And a vote is much appreciated.
Photo by: Nana B Aeigy