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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 classic '80s film that deals with themes that may be inappropriate for younger teens. Topics such as suicide, depression, social alienation, materialism, sex, and parental physical and emotional abuse are discussed openly. Main characters use very strong language, including "f--k," smoke pot on-screen in the school library, and mock authority figures. One smokes cigarettes, draws a switchblade, and makes lewd gestures. He reveals cigar burns on his body as evidence of his father's abuse. The film does positively encourage the breakdown of social barriers as a means of identification and improved communication.
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. Do teens feel that their high school has a similar clique structure?
Allison describes Bender's question about Claire's virginity as a "double-edged sword … a trap," stating, "Well, if you say you haven't ... you're a prude. If you say you have ... you're a slut." Her argument is nothing new, but it does present a good opportunity for families to talk about society's views on sex and gender. Do teens still feel this double standard is in effect?
Why is this movie considered a teen classic? If you could update it, how would you do it and whom would you cast?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.