The Breakfast Club

Movie review by
Marjorie Kase, Common Sense Media
The Breakfast Club Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Classic '80s teen movie has mature themes, profanity.
  • R
  • 1985
  • 97 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 43 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 192 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Mixed messages. Positive themes include communication and empathy and that stereotyping people is a bad idea. However, even though the movie positions itself as disparaging peer pressure and social falsehood, the five teens all succumb to peer pressure immediately by not telling on the disruptive Bender, who abuses them and also breaks the rules. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are complex, with many layers and human flaws. One of the movie's main goals is to reveal the truth behind teens' facades and stereotypical assumptions. And some teens rise to defend others who are being taunted. But high school students also show disrespect toward authority figures and each other, and many of them are grappling with serious anxieties and insecurities: A great student feels bad about doing well. A varsity wrestler feels bad about being pressed by his father to excel. A popular girl feels bad that her high status forces her to shun less popular kids; she suggests that popularity is a burden, but she doesn't want to relinquish her position. "Being bad feels pretty good" is a disruptive student's comment to another who's enlisted in a prank. A teen defiantly vandalizes school and student property and verbally abuses his fellow students. Cast is entirely White, with no notable diversity in any area of representation.

Violence

A teen wields a knife but doesn't use it. He shows a scar, claiming it was caused when his father burned him with a lit cigar. Reacting to a bully, a teen threatens to beat the bully up. A teen describes taping a weaker kid's buttocks together. Another teen describes suicidal ideation/plans due to a low grade. A teacher shoves a bully and threatens to beat him up. A janitor blackmails a teacher. A sexual assault situation portrays the victim as ultimately empathizing with and choosing to make out with her violator.

Sex

Teens are pressed to discuss virginity. A teen boy places his head between a girl's knees. A student pretends to be a "nymphomaniac" and claims someone "nailed me." Many sexual references: "Did you slip her the hot beef injection?" "Riding the hobby horse?" A girl kisses a boy she had seemed to hate.

Language

"Damn," "screw," "nuts," "turd," "dildo," "puke," "beaver shot," "slut," "ass," "s--t," "f--k," "bitch,"  "shut up," "prick," and "scumbag."

Consumerism

Students drink Coke.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens smoke pot, with positive consequences (it helps them start getting along). One smokes cigarettes in the school library. A student claims to drink vodka.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byhelsingmusique October 5, 2014

My Favourite High School Movie Ever

I adore the Breakfast Club, and have ever since I first saw the film. It is a film that centres around a person from each clique of high school and it shows the... Continue reading
Parent of a 2-year-old Written byThood94 February 20, 2019

What age do you want your kids cursing

I’ve seen this movie before I started screening what I watch. I’m so surprised that parents think this movie is appropriate for their preteens and teens. The la... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byBrainKreig October 17, 2010

Don't you.....forget about me! Don't don't don't don't..........

I command you to rent this movie and show it to your kids
Kid, 8 years old June 8, 2015

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 do the characters in The Breakfast Club demonstrate communication and empathy? Why are these important character strengths?

  • How does the movie portray drug use? What message does it send that the teens get along better after they smoke pot together?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age tales

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

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