Friday, August 07, 2009

Could You Describe The Ruckus?

When I heard of John Hughes' passing yesterday, it really hit me. And when you sit back and think about how his writing has shaped us, our movies, everything, it sorta blows your mind.

What I always liked about his work was he was writing for us. And he knew us. He felt like he was one of us.
Just think about the movies he's written (and some he directed)...Mr. Mom, National Lampoon's Vacation, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Planes Trains & Automobiles, She's Having A Baby, Weird Science, Pretty In Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Some Kind Of Wonderful, The Great Outdoors, Uncle Buck, Home Alone, National Lampoon's European Vacation, Christmas Vacation, Curly Sue, Career Opportunities, etc.

"That's why they call them crushes. If they were easy, they'd call them something else." Sixteen Candles

For obvious reasons (and the name of this blog/current post) one of my faves is The Breakfast Club. It's an almost perfect film for me. The characters are priceless, and the writing is spot on. Terrific pacing, too.
It starts out as fun, a bit of a romp, but then quickly becomes something else - something meaningful.

Something about life.

It's how teens think, act. What they do. The shit they have to deal with. Popularity. Violence. Geekdom. Pressure. Love. Hate.

And you can see how he loved these characters. Because he gave them hearts. He gave all of his characters heart. I mean, who hasn't thought about life, what they're going to be, how are they going to get out of the funk they're in, etc.
Even Ferris Bueller, with all it's fun and attitude (and dance scenes), we think about what's ahead, and what we're leaving behind.
And then he grew up, and gave us Planes Traines & Automobiles, She's Having A Baby, some of his most accomplished works, in my opinion.

In Planes, he pulls a similar switcharoo. We start with Steve Martin dealing with the New Buddy From Hell, and how that evolves into a true friendship. And heartbreak, too, when we discover John Candy's character is basically homeless, mourning the loss of his beloved wife. That's heavy stuff for a comedy.
She's Having A Baby. The pressure, the panic, of fatherhood. Did I do the right thing? What am I doing? I'm going to be a father! But when it comes down to it, when his wife and baby are in distress, life slaps Kevin Bacon in the face - nothing else matters but them - and he wakes up, ready for fatherhood, to be a better husband. Funny? Maybe not, but real? Yup.
Even though his career seemed to be winding down (he wrote numerous screenplays under an alias - the Beethoven movies, a few Home Alone direct-to-Tv sequels), his resume is painfully impressive, and who knows what he still may have had up his sleeve.
Dear Mr. Vernon: We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it is we did wrong, but we think you're crazy for making us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us: in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. Does that answer your question?
Sincerely yours,
The Breakfast Club.


Matt said...

This guy defined my childhood. I've seen Ferris, Breakfast, PRetty in Pink, the Vacation movies, Career Opportunities, Planes, Weird Science, Mr. Mom, 16 Candles and Home Alone more times than I can count.

And they all hold up. I just watched Mr. Mom the other day and had a silly grin the entire time.

The cynically hip won't give him his due, but he deserves his place in film history.

E.C. Henry said...

Great tribute, Patrick (and Matt)

John Hughes sure had a great career. I'm not nearly as passionate about him, as either of you two, but I DO admire a man who's done as many movies as he has. And yeah, I'd have to agree with you, Patrick, John Hughes knew how to tap into the pulse of the 80s teenage generation.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

Patrick J. Rodio said...

Matt - Exactly, man. The cynically hip can suck my left one, and if so inspired, also my right one, too. The amount of classic scenes & quotes along is amazing from these movies.

And as classic as his teen stuff is, even the adult (although not as popular at the box office) packs a punch.

This Woman's Work, by Kate Bush, at the end of She's Having A Baby? C'mon, try not to cry.

And Thanks, EC. You may not be as much of a fan, but at least you can acknowledge his importance.

William said...

It's pretty insane when you think of how prolific he really was. I think Hughes got to the heart of people in a very entertaining way. I was watching P,T & A the other day and John Candy broke my heart in some scenes. That balance of the silly and the bittersweet could have easily been hack in less talented hands but Hughes took those moments and made them gold.

A big loss.

japhy99 said...

Well said sir. He just knew instinctively how to balance the funny and the important - and that the funny is important and the important is usually goddamn funny.