Uncovering Cliques: the Brekfast Club

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The Breakfast Club is very different from almost every other entry into what was (at the time) a burgeoning genre. Instead of relying on the staples of bare flesh, crass humor, and brainless plots, this movie focuses on five dissimilar characters, is almost entirely dialogue-driven, and doesn't offer even a glimpse of a breast or buttock. It's a story about communication gaps, teen isolation, and the angst that everyone (regardless of how self-assured they seem) experiences during the years that function as a transition from the freedom of adolescence to the responsibilities of adulthood. Even though the premise sounds a little dry, The Breakfast Club is eminently watchable and consistently entertaining, even when it falters. Perhaps aware that his primary audience would be the 14-to-18 year-old crowd, Hughes added several surreal and silly sequences to interrupt the predominantly serious tone that suffuses the proceedings. These don't really work, but the shift in tone isn't sufficiently glaring to disturb the movie's overall flow. The Breakfast Club is a small group of high school students, who, during the course of a nine-hour Saturday detention, are transformed from complete strangers to confidantes. For each of them, it is an unforgettable day, and, while the friendships they form between 7 am and 4 pm may disintegrate once they get back into the real world, feelings are explored and emotions unearthed that give them insights into their own lives and the forces that drive the others. These are the kinds of realizations which, if more high school students understood them, might make grades nine through twelve a little less traumatic. The characters trapped in detention are all very different individuals. Hughes sets them up as traditional stereotypes, then delights in slowly peeling back the layers, showing how each suffers from surprisingly similar problems. There's the jock, wrestling star Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez); the most popular girl in school,...
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