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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Breakfast Club is a popular '80s film that deals with edgy teen issues. Topics such as suicide, depression, social alienation, materialism, sex, and physical and emotional abuse are discussed openly. The teen characters use very strong language, including "f--k," mock authority figures, and smoke pot in the school library (which is when they finally start getting along, so it's not presented with negative consequences). One also smokes cigarettes, pulls out a switchblade, and makes lewd gestures. He reveals cigar burns on his body as evidence of his father's abuse. Gallantly reacting to a bully, a teen threatens to beat the bully up. But the same teen also describes taping a weaker kid's buttocks together as a "prank." A student tells about his suicidal ideation due to a low grade. A teacher shoves a bully and threatens to beat him up. In one scene, a teen boy puts his head between a teen girl's legs even though she repeatedly tells him to leave her alone; despite this assault and his humiliation of her, she later makes out with him, which sends a very mixed message. The film does encourage the breakdown of stereotypes and social barriers as a means of identification and improved communication, and the characters' honesty has always resonated very strongly with many real-life teens.
- Parents say
- Kids say
Amazing, fantastic, and well done comedy has tons of swearing, racy references, smoking, and talk of abuse. This movie is not appropriate for kids, ok for adults 18+
What's the story?
THE BREAKFAST CLUB is the story of five high school students who rank high and low in popularity and who are forced to spend nine hours together in Saturday detention. Without the whole school watching, Brian "The Brain" (Anthony Michael Hall), Claire "The Princess" (Molly Ringwald), Andy "The Jock" (Emilio Estevez), Allison "The Basket Case" (Ally Sheedy), and Bender "The Misfit" (Judd Nelson) eventually discard their differences, discussing the events that brought them to detention. Gradually they come to realize that underneath the trappings of the high school social scene, the problems they face are more similar than they think. Brian suffers extreme pressure by his parents to maintain a perfect grade point average. Claire insists that being rich and the most popular girl at school has its downfalls. Andy wants only to please his father, even if it means acting against his own moral code. Allison seeks attention from her father through aberrant behavior. And Bender reacts to physical and verbal abuse at home by defying authority, committing petty theft, and damaging school property.
Is it any good?
Despite its occasional heavy-handedness, the film is an earnest, engaging attempt at portraying teens and their problems in a realistic light. Writer/director John Hughes' film deals with very mature issues regarding family and school that both teens and parents can relate to. On the outside, the five may seem like clichéd stereotypes, yet as The Breakfast Club progresses, their confessions as to why they're in detention reveal a greater depth to their personas.
Ringwald, Nelson, Hall, Estevez, and Sheedy owe their careers to this film, and for good reason. The "Brat Pack's" solid performances coupled with Hughes' witty dialogue, choice direction, and his ability to balance drama and humor made it one of the most enduring, quotable teen films of all time. A great choice for older teens.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how relevant and realistic they feel The Breakfast Club is. Teens: Do you feel that your high school has a similar clique structure?
Why do you think this movie is considered a teen classic? If you could update it, how would you do it, and whom would you cast? How do you think the story would change if the characters were more diverse?
Allison describes Bender's question about Claire's virginity as a "double-edged sword," stating, "Well, if you say you haven't ... you're a prude. If you say you have ... you're a slut." Talk about society's views about sex and gender. Do teens still feel this double standard is in effect?
How does the movie portray drug use? What message does it send that the teens get along better after they smoke pot together?
- In theaters: February 15, 1985
- On DVD or streaming: April 28, 1998
- Cast: Ally Sheedy, Anthony Michael Hall, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald
- Director: John Hughes
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Character strengths: Communication, Empathy
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- Last updated: November 5, 2020
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