As an awkward, religious adolescent with no chance of ever going to a school prom (forbidden by our ultra-orthodox rabbis), I was captivated by the life led by “normal” American teenagers. These exotic beings drove cars and went on dates and attended dances actually organized by their schools. This idea seemed wild—that an institution supervised by adults would allow and even encourage boys and girls to fraternize.
Since that life was out of reach, I looked for a fantasy version in which to immerse myself. Wasn’t I lucky to have grown up when John Hughes was in his moviemaking heyday? “Sixteen Candles,” “Pretty in Pink” and “The Breakfast Club”—these films exemplify the high school existence I romanticized from afar.
From a certain vantage point, they now seem old-fashioned, but only because there are no vampires or dystopian fight-to-the-death scenes. The stories themselves are timeless: Boy meets girl … and you know the rest. But beyond the plotlines, these works withstand the test of time. After Hughes died, in 2009, the IFC art house in New York paid tribute to him by adding his movies in their midnight lineup, and they’re still screened at theaters all over the country.
Why is it we can still watch these films while other youth-oriented hits of that era—like “Risky Business” and “About Last Night”—seem to crawl along at a sleep-inducing pace? Continue Reading