John Hughes, the guy who helped get me through my craptacular teen years in one piece, has passed away. Another in a recent string of celebs who have died relatively young, Hughes died of a heart attack while walking in Manhattan today. He was only 59.
In honor of the man's work, here are my Top 10 John Hughes Films:
(All films listed were written by Hughes; the ones he also directed are marked with an asterisk.)
10.Home Alone - I like to pretend that Macauley Culkin never grew up, and that he's still that little lost boy who learned about aftershave the hard way.
9. Mr. Mom - A friend and I saw this in the theater soon after I had developed a crush on Pittsburgh boy Michael Keaton from watching Night Shift way too many times on HBO (a movie that a 10-year-old really had no business watching at all). I actually remember writing in my diary later that evening that I wanted to marry him.
8. Pretty in Pink - This is one of those movies that I always try to like more, but can never do it. I want to like it. It's got a great soundtrack. James Spader is a wonderful bastard, as always. And, hey, the Dice Man makes an appearance! There are a lot of good pieces here, but they just don't all fit together the way they should. The main problem is that I can NEVER buy the Andie/Blaine pairing. He's such a little wussy boy. But that doesn't mean that I think Andie should pick Duckie, either. She wouldn't want to jeopardize that friendship. Besides, he's kind of a spaz. No, Andie totally should've given up on high school boys and hooked up with an indie rock dude.
7. National Lampoon's Vacation - Someone recently told me that they didn't think this movie was funny. I can't remember who that was. I probably cut him or her out of my life after that because, let's face it, he or she was probably a communist. I mean, seriously. Who doesn't think this is funny?
6. Some Kind of Wonderful - Even though this is kind of a rip-off of Pretty in Pink (with a more satisfying ending), it ranks higher on my list for many reasons - most of which are unknown to me. But the ones I do know are:
- Eric Stoltz is adorable
- Craig Sheffer is almost as good at being a dick as James Spader...or even ZABKA (hallowed be thy name)
- Elias Koteas basically plays a teenage Travis Bickle
- My favorite '80s song, "Beat's So Lonely" (the instrumental part, anyway) can be heard at the snob party; Flesh For Lulu's "I Go Crazy" is prominently featured
4. Weird Science* - This movie always reminds me of my Dad, because it's one of his faves. He's 81. (Boys never grow up.) I know a lot of people think it's stupid, but those people should be forced to eat a greasy pork sandwich served in a dirty ashtray. Come on, it's not supposed to be deep. It's just supposed to be silly fun, and it succeeds. Plus, it put Robert Downey, Jr. on the map, who went on to be a huge movie star. And it gave us Bill Paxton, who also went on to movie stardom despite the fact that his role here as Chet is still the best one he's ever had.
3. The Breakfast Club* - Back in the day, I probably would have put TBC as my favorite Hughes film, but the older I get, the more I cringe at certain parts. (While I did recently name this the #1 High School Movie in a Starpulse piece, that list was less personal than this one.) It still may be the model against which all other teen movies are measured, but it really could have been improved by cutting back the angst just a tad. Because really, I can't help but laugh every time Ally Sheedy earnestly proclaims that, "When you grow up, your heart DIES." Come on. I didn't even believe that when I was a teenager.
One of my very early posts here on The Pop Eye was about the The Breakfast Club's influence on generations of high schoolers and the strange, sad irony that no one ever got the message. Like parts of this movie, I often look back at old posts and cringe, but I'm still pretty proud of this one. (Even if I did use a similar, lame Simple Minds pun as the title.)
2. Sixteen Candles* - Yes, everything about this movie is hilarious: from the simple but brilliant premise to Grandpa Howard asking the Donger, "Where is my automobile?" But when thinking about John Hughes's impact in the film industry and in the lives of teenagers, it's really quite special to watch this movie now and realize that a good part of why these characters seem so real is because their portrayers look real. Anthony Michael Hall looked like a real geek. They didn't just grab some guy who looked like Brad Pitt and slap glasses on him. And Molly Ringwald became a star because girls everywhere could relate to her. She was normal. She could have been any girl in any one of our high schools. How many of us can say our classrooms were filled with people who looked like Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens? Not many, I'm sure. So, why do the teen stars of today have to be so perfect? There's a sad realization here: if Molly Ringwald were just starting out now, she could never be a star. There's a good chance she wouldn't even get an audition.
1. Ferris Bueller's Day Off* - Ferris Bueller is my hero. Plain and simple.
Here's an old trailer with a peek at some obviously cut scenes.