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Don’t You Forget About How Deep “The Breakfast Club” Really Is

John Hughes’s iconic teen movie turns 30 this month. Here’s why it still packs an emotional punch. (No, not because of the sushi scene.)

“Dear Mr. Vernon:

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We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong, but we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us—in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal.


Does that answer your question?

Sincerely yours,

The Breakfast Club”

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There’s no better way to sum up John Hughes’ seminal teen movie The Breakfast Club than with the voiced-over letter at the end. Released in 1985, The Breakfast Club turns 30 on February 15 and, amazingly, remains incredibly relevant today.

A quick refresher for those who’ve never seen the film (such people exist, we’ve heard): On a Saturday morning, five high school students in Shermer, Illinois, assemble in their school’s library for eight hours of detention. All the typical high school clique archetypes are present and accounted for: the popular girl, Claire (Molly Ringwald); the jock, Andrew (Emilio Estevez); the rebel, John (Judd Nelson); the outcast, Allison (Ally Sheedy); and the geek, Brian (Anthony Michael Hall). But time together eventually erodes the barriers separating them. It’s unclear if that will stick, but for now everyone gains new perspectives on the lot peers and parents have handed to them.

And, yes, this is an ’80s movie we’re talking about here–which means there is the obligatory dance break and the freak-to-chic makeover (why can’t you love Ally as she is, Andrew?!) However, The Breakfast Club is sneaky with its deep emotional truths–and rooted in ideas that teens and adults are, and will always be, grappling with.

Here are five of the most powerful scenes:

1) The catalyst for bonding is always finding a common enemy: in this case, it’s assistant principal Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason). Even though Bender grinds hard on the nerves of anything with a pulse, the crew covers for him when he closes the library doors and when he sneaks back in from solitary confinement.

2) So why is Bender such a grade-A asshole? The same reason many of us struggle: parents. But it’s a little different with Bender. His relentless antagonization is part of the facade he uses to keep people at an emotional arm’s length. Here’s the first time we see a beneath his hardened exterior:

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3) There is no way to rank one Breakfast Clubber’s confessional moment over another, but this single take of Brian’s explanation for why he’s in detention is just heartbreaking.

4) There’s a big elephant in that library: What happens come Monday morning? Over the course of their detention, the group forms an undeniable bond, but the question is whether or not that bond will hold up against their respective social cliques. Claire’s honesty may make her sound conceited but it’s honesty, nonetheless.


5) And of course there’s the ending that hearkens back to the question above: Will everyone forget about everyone once the weekend is up? Judging by Brian’s poignantly penned letter to Vernon, Monday might just work out, after all.

About the author

KC covers entertainment and pop culture for Fast Company. Previously, KC was part of the Emmy Award-winning team at "Good Morning America" where he was the social media producer.

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