Dinner with The Breakfast Club

BreakfastThis 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.

Thank you.


Photo by: Nana B Aeigy

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  1. I friggin love this movie. It\’s so over-the-top cheesy and 80s but it definitely stands the test of time for me and I\’ll watch it every time it\’s on. I love the reactions of the kids, though, because it probably IS weird and old-fashioned and lame to them.

    \”Screws fall out all the time. The world is an imperfect place.\”

    1. Quite the words to live by.

      I should have pointed out that everyone stayed until the end of the movie. The girls may have just done so just to be polite, but the boys won\’t sit for any boring crap longer than it takes to draw a breath, so something must have resonated.

  2. Hmm.. maybe I should have tried TBC with the kiddos over the weekend instead of the profanity laced Bad News Bears movie with Billy Bob Thornton. Turns out my kids do have some taste, the BNB movie was quickly turned off. I don\’t know if my boys would like TBC but that would be an interesting experiment. And I love your where are they now. I love looking at then/now celebrity pics.

    1. Thanks! The kids\’ first response to the \”where are they now\” question was to suppose they were all washed up, addicted former child stars. I got the second response after asking what the fictional characters might be up to. Still drugs. And mafia. I don\’t know what that says about either generation.

  3. Perfect. Every last one of them! One of my favorites from high school. I loved sharing it with my daughter a few years ago. And she appreciated it as well. Think I\’m going to wait a couple of years to screen it for my 11 year old son…

    1. Thanks, Cassandra! Yes, letting your tween get a couple miles on him before sharing is probably for the best, although this movie was way tame compared to some of the stuff my 12 year-old is exposed to, watching the kids fling around the f-bomb took some of the shine off this movie for me.

  4. This post cracked me up. I can so relate to the teenage reactions. I find that my 16-year-old daughter is often underwhelmed by things that made an impact on me when I was her age. Her reaction to The Shining, which totally traumatized me years ago, was \”Eh…what\’s all the fuss about?\” She liked TBC though! I loved your \”Where are they now?\” section. Allison changing her name to the number 8 and marrying her ferret, Linus, had me laughing out loud. Just discovered your blog and looking forward to reading more!

    1. Thank you, Shannon! Yes, I\’ve been subjecting my kids to the movies that had a huge impact on me at their age and they have been underwhelmed to say the least. The movie that got the most traction though? Terminator. And the whole Terminator series. I mean, I thought they were fine at the time, but not groundbreaking. And a post on \”Where is the Terminator now\” is going to be really short. Either he hasn\’t been created yet, he was never created, he was destroyed … take your pick. Not interesting at all.