Thursday, August 06, 2009

Don't You (Forget About Him)

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
5. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - Yep, I like the Griswolds' Christmas story better than the original one. SQUIRREL!!!!! cracks me up every time.

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.


Candy's daily Dandy said...

This was a most awesome post and tribute to a man whom had a great deal of influence over my teenaged years.

Where do I start?

I have seen every movie on your list multiple times, and will tell you that my children are at the ages that they now will appreciate John Hughes genius. The time has come for me to share the greatness with them.

Christmas vacation? Family tradition-every Thanksgiving night, we kick the holiday season off with Clark and the family. Pretty in Pink, Some kind of Wonderful, Sixteen Candles, these movies all got me through my teen years and some rough times.

Nice work Becks.

katrocket said...


Such sad news.... Mr. Hughes brought tremendous joy and comfort to my adolescence. Absolute genius.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

Planes, Trains and Automobiles is another one of my favorites of his. I don't know why. The pillow scene, maybe?

And, because they seem to go together, I loved the Great Outdoors, mostly because it reminded me of my family's vacation home at the lake. Except this one had a bald bear in it.

J. Hi said...

Great list. I agree with you about Vacation. Love the clip and I've had those moments--"WE ARE GOING TO THIS PARADE AND WE ARE GOING TO HAVE FUN OR I AM GOING TO BEAT SOME BUTTS!!" :)

We watched Weird Science over and over--love it. Breakfast Club was my fav back then but when I saw it as an adult I just thought 'those whiny little brats.' Ha!

Travis said...

Those are still some of my favorite films. Excellent tribute my dear.

Wings said...

Great tribute!

I, too, love "Christmas Vacation" more than the original, and that is saying a lot, cause the original is so awesome itself!

Such a resume. He was great!

Cora said...

Ferris Bueller is definitely one of my favorite movies. Talk about a movie that has lines you just have to adopt as your own!

"Ferris Bueller, you're my heeero"

"No snot-noosed punk is going to leave my cheese out in the wind"

"I could be the walrus.... but I'd still have to bum rides off of people"

"Do you know ANYTHING?"

"When Cameron was in Egyptland, let my Cameron go"

"The question isn't what are we going to do. The question is what aren't we going to do"

And a milion more I just don't have time to list. I use them all the time. Hell, I used the cheese in the wind one at work yesterday (I'm a nanny - heh heh heh) before I'd even heard the sad news.

SkylersDad said...

An excellent collection of flicks you put up there Becky. I think my favorite might have been Mr Mom, because of two lines/scenes I thought were fantastic:

Michael Keaton playing poker with the moms using coupons.

And when asked if he was going to put in 220 in his garage, he responded 220, 221, whatever it takes!

Alice said...

i am an idiot, because i did not realize half those movies were by john hughes. but i've seen ALL of them, and that's saying a lot because i spent my childhood under a rock.

red said...

Great list. I'd have to put Pretty in Pink higher on the list, but I too like Christmas Vacation better.

Sad, sad summer.

Soda and Candy said...

Great post! I was obsessed with Breakfast Club but hadn't seen Sixteen Candles until a couple years ago - you're so on point about the casting.

Dr Zibbs said...

Vacation was the funniest.

Anonymous said...

I'm really upset by this passing.

Anonymous said...

You're going to hate the shit out of me but I'm not a huge fan of Hughes' movies.

I liked "The Breakfast Club" though back in the day. I'm not a big fan of '80s teen movies but that and "War Games" are about the only movies from that genre I can handle.

Although honestly, I can't see Ally Sheedy's emo pouty princess in TBC without wanting to kick her ass. She's so annoying. To think all it took was a mini makeover to make her "normal". If only life was as simple in reality.

I was sad to hear Mr. Hughes died though!

Billy said...

I wrote about him too, but methinks you did a more bang-up job of writing something more accessible. I think I was too busy feeling sorry for myself!

Still, I gotta say two things: (1) I'm definitely one who thinks The Breakfast Club deserves the top spot; and (2) if you haven't seen She's Having a Baby, you'd best go get it right now, and if you HAVE seen it and intentionally left it off your list, I'm not sure I can like you much anymore, especially after that whole CRYSTAL HEARTS thing...

J.J. in L.A. said...

My favorites were Ferris Bueller and Sixteen Candles. I only watched Pretty in Pink for James Spader.

words...words...words... said...

Sixteen Candles is one of my Top Ten favorite movies of all time. Molly Ringwald was my #1 teenage crush.

I also like Christmas Vacation better than all the other Vacation movies. But I may not be a reliable source, since I think even Vegas Vacation had its moments.

And since Mr. Hughes passed only yesterday, it would be in poor taste to share my thoughts on The Breakfast Club.

Blanche said...

Planes, Trains and Automobiles!!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Christmas Vacation makes my all time top 25 list.

CDP said...

I so agree with you on Pretty in Pink...I believed the character of Andie enough to think that she would never have chosen Blaine or Duckie.

Evil Genius * 10^5 said...

Unbeknownst to me, John Hughes actually based the character of Ducky on me. His passing has left me feeling cold and empty like part of me is missing. Probably my appendix.

LiLu said...

YESSSSSSSSSSS. Ferris Bueller is SO number one... I might just go watch it right now in his honor. ;-)

cube said...

Saw Ferris Bueller many times back in the days when I got free HBO.

I didn't know much about Hughes, but I knew many of his movies.

Bond said...

He was a genius

Johnny Yen said...

I didn't realize until the press he got when he died that Hughes had written the original piece in National Lampoon that "Vacation" was based on. My dad subscribed to National Lampoon and one of my brothers and I read it. We loved the "Family Vacation" piece, which was even more monsterously funny than the movie was (and the movie was pretty damned funny.)

I remember when I was in college, my parents calling me, still laughing, asking if I'd seen "Vacation." They were laughing because of the part where Clark Griswold melted down when he discovered that Walley World was closed. That was my father during family vacations, except that it wasn't just a moment or two-- he was that way on the whole vacation. I guess being stuck in a station wagon with three little boys who fought constantly was not his idea of relaxation.


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