Today’s Youth Could Use A John Hughes

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.

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33 thoughts on “Today’s Youth Could Use A John Hughes”

  1. I did not know that John Hughes was involved with the Family Vacation Movies – Learn Something new everyday. Sixteen Candles is one of my all time favorite movies. I was 16 and there were similarities I could relate to right down to the unnoticed 16th birthday. And Jake was HOT!! 🙂 Breakfast Club – made the Jock the asshole and the rebel the Man – or the Boy moreso but I remember identifying with Ally Sheedy’s character but wishing I could more with Molly Ringwalds. I wasn’t that weird though. He was good at bringing out the characteristics – almost exaggerating to the point of ridiculousness to get the point across.
    🙂 Peace

  2. I am wondering if Struck by Lightning may deliver a John Hughes impact. Written by Chris Colfer, but directed by someone else. The trailer has engendered some hope in my cinematic heart.

  3. Did you ever watch Not Another Teen Movie? It’s a parody movie, but I’d put it far aside from the rotten messes like Epic Movie and Meet the Spartans. It actually tackles the teen movie subject exclusively, and instead of making recent pop culture references, it takes its influence from John Hughes movies. I loved it!

  4. Well said! There really aren’t any writers/directors that speak for this generation. They basically had the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises. But there’s not exactly anybody speaking for this generation. Maybe somebody will step up soon, or they will just have the Jersey Shore gang or Lady Gaga!

  5. What’s interesting is that John Hughes only directed 8 movies, but he’s responsible for many more as a writer and producer (such as “Home Alone”). Some of his films are brilliant (“Ferris Bueller”) and others are mediocre (“Curly Sue”), and he has a penchant for slapstick and obvious comedy. However, he spoke for a generation. There’s currently no filmmaker that has connected with today’s teenagers the way that Hughes did in the 80’s, though Judd Apatow seems to have come close in following Hughes’ career path by directing few films but paving the way for other filmmakers using a specific brand of comedy.

  6. The difference between a John Hughes teen movie and the other exploitative schlock is that John managed to tap into the vein of the real teen experience while spinning his outrageous yarns. His films can be really goofy exactly because as teenagers we ARE really goofy — even when we think we are being oh-so-serious. Our favorite films are Sixteen Candles (because it covered the map from the stupid stuff we all did or wish we did as teenagers to a healthy dose of teenage angst), and Weird Science just ‘cuz it was zany fun. Thanks for the post.

  7. I was asking one of my friends who is about 10 years younger them me if he knew of the greatness of John Hughes and sadly he did not. I have started to show him the movies and while he likes them, he doesn’t quite understand why they are so special to me. I think it has something to do with being a teenager watching these movies about teenagers that makes the difference.
    BTW, I love your blog and wish I could watch movies as fast as you blog about them. Keep it up!

  8. Pretty in pink always stands out in my mind .It shaped my views on many emotions of love as a teenager . I think ducky in the end still should have got the girl and still do to this day but its the truth not the happiest of plots or endings that made the movies believable. Huges touched every teenager in the 80’s dealing with subjects that are still relavant in todays youth . Most movies today are about teenagers that don’t exist shallow creatures with no feeling.

  9. A Hughes movie for contemporary youth would not resonate with them as the plot would be too complex and there wouldn’t be enough CGI effects or cell phones or iPads to sufficiently distract them. The latest generation has been dumbed down so much, they can barely dress themselves. Great review, tho!

    1. Self-fulfilling prophecy alert!

      Nothing against John Hughes but I’m pretty fed up with this line of logic that “kids” (which you clearly are not) need constant distraction, special effects and plot twists to be interested. Pointing toward “American Pie” and “Dude, Where’s My Car?” (not actually about teenagers…) fails to take into account “Freaks and Geeks,” “Mean Girls” and “Superbad” which all contain the spirit of adolescence.

      Nobody is going to make 80s teen comedies anymore. And trying to convince a younger generation that they’re movies are garbage will only cause them to resent you. You should try leaving your condescension at home the next time you go to the movies.

      1. American Pie IS about teenagers in high school and I wouldn’t consider superbad ,while a terrificly funny movie, any type of movie gto take direction from and Freaks and Geeks was for my generation coming out when I was 19!!!
        That said I think you missed the point of my article. It’s not to say that there isn’t any good movies for teenagers, I thoroughly enjoyed Perks Of Being A Wallflower. The point of the article was that there is no film maker that speaks for and to todays youth the way John Hughes did. He made and wrote several movies for the younger audience not just one. And when you say Im trying to convince youth their movies are garbage you’ve lost the point. And you used the spelling of they’re wrong. They’re means they are nd you should have used their which means possession. Thanks for reading!!

  10. Second time this week I’ve stumbled onto something John Hughes related in this WordPress world. I think I have to go and watch The Breakfast Club again. Its funny that as an adult I can go back and watch a lot of his teen themed movies and see how much he captured my generation. You don’t realize it when you are growing up.

    Planes, Trains, and Automobiles will always live in my heart as one of my favorites by him.

    Great review.

  11. I cried the day John Candy died…and I don’t cry. I was a senior at U of ILL. PT&A was my all time favorite. Uncle Buck, when he made the birthday breakfast…”You should see the toast. I couldn’t even get it through the door.” I’ve said that 100 times. When he died it was like someone in my family died. I miss both these guys..a lot.

      1. Candy’s daughter said he was the same way at home as he was in his movies. I know this will sounds crazy, but I was the same way with my kid. Hughes had that much of an impact. Thank God I didn’t turn out like Clark W.

  12. TBC (The Breakfast Club) was the most influential movies of my life. I adored John Hughes. I so agree kids today need to have a John Hughes.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting and reading. Hughes death is one of the great tragedies in Hollywood

      1. I completely agree. I am not one to get emotional when a Hollywood type dies but when he died – I was heartbroken and sad. A true original thinker had left this world

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