Any one who spent anytime as a youth during the 1980’s no matter what ages, has at some point felt a connection to a John Hughes film. One of the decades most loved film makers, Hughes passed away 2 1/2 years ago and had given up writing original screenplays, although he was the creator behind some movies with story ideas. He hadn’t directed a film since 1991’s Curly Sue. His films throughout the 80’s were loved by all and Hughes himself was regarded as a voice for the youth of all kinds. A voice for the youth wasn’t his only talent as a story teller.
Hughes was born in Michigan but grew up in suburban Chicago and that is where his heart would always be. It was evident in his movies that he truly had a love affair with Chicago as far back as his third screenplay, National Lampoon’s Vacation, where the Griswolds hailed from the windy city and many of his films either took place there or had it’s characters originate from Chicago.
It was his directing debut that would strike a chord with America’s youth as Molly Ringwald played young Samantha Baker in Sixteen Candles. The story is one of a girl who’s family is too distracted to remember her sixteenth birthday. Dealing with early high school life and truly showing the distinctions among the youth for the first time and in a real yet light hearted way, which would go on to become his trademark.
It would be the next year that would mark one of the finest movies of Hughes career and of the decade with, The Breakfast Club. It would be this movie that would truly give birth to the Brat Pack and start a pop culture phenomenon. This would be a movie that would define a generation and bring together all the many types of high school students despite what crowd they ran with. With as much comedy as drama the movie showed in a bright light the difficulties and pressures that are on the shoulders of all young people in America. Hughes did this years before Kurt Cobain made it ok to feel different and talk about it. Hughes ability to talk frankly and openly about the problems facing young people is what would draw so many to his movies.
Even his more light hearted efforts like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off would have these underlying story lines, as Cameron had a difficult life while it seemed like all his friends and all those around him, including his best friend Ferris, had the perfect life.
He even managed to show the joys and difficulty of married life and all that comes with it in 1988’s She’s Having A Baby. A movie that had more of a personal touch for Hughes as it is very loosely based on his early writing career and marriage.
He was a voice to many and said and showed things we all were thinking and feeling. His period of brilliance and time on top was brief but he still managed to leave a very large indelible mark on popular culture.
Hughes semi retired after one of his many muses, John Candy, suddenly passed away in 1994. He felt a piece of creativity leave him when Candy died and we all lost out because of it but he held true to creative integrity not forcing something that wasn’t there and making money and movies just because of who he was and the fact that he could.
It is unfortunate that today’s youth doesn’t have a voice speaking for them and showing them it’s ok to feel the way they do and that things will be OK in the end. Instead today they get movies like American Pie and Dude Where’s My Car? It was a loss for all when Hughes heart gave out in August 2009. We are fortunate to have the legacy he left behind and hopefully future generations will be able to look at his work and identify with his message. We could use him today more than ever.