The Breakfast Club is a 1985 American teen film widely considered as the definitive work in the genre. Written and directed by John Hughes, the storyline follows five teenagers (each representing a different clique in high school) as they spend a Saturday in detention together and come to realize that they are all deeper than their respective stereotypes. The film has become a cult classic and has had a tremendous influence on many coming-of-age films since then. The film was shot entirely in sequence. Shooting began on March 28, 1984 and ended in May 1984.
The plot follows five students at fictional Shermer High School in the widely used John Hughes setting of Shermer, Illinois (a fictitious suburb of Chicago based on Hughes' hometown of Northbrook, Illinois, which was originally called Shermerville; Shermer is a street in Northbrook, and the school in Northbrook, Glenbrook North High School is on Shermer), as they report for Saturday detention on March 24, 1984. While not complete strangers, the five teenagers are all from a different clique or social group:
|Name||Actor (Age)||Label||Reason for Detention|
|Claire Standish||Molly Ringwald (16)||The Princess: a wealthy, popular and spoiled girl||Skipping school to go shopping at a mall|
|John Bender||Judd Nelson (26)||The Criminal: a troublemaker who continually causes problems at school||Pulling the fire alarm. It is implied that Bender is often in detention|
|Brian Johnson||Anthony Michael Hall (16)||The Brain: a nerd||Bringing a flare gun to school (in a parasuicidal gesture) that accidentally discharged in his locker, causing minor property damage|
|Andrew Clark||Emilio Estévez (21)||The Athlete: a state champion wrestler||Taping a fellow student's (Larry Lester's) buttocks together|
|Allison Reynolds||Ally Sheedy (21)||The Basket Case: a misfit, and self-described "compulsive liar"||Nothing better to do (according to her)|
The students pass the hours in a variety of ways: they dance, harass each other, tell stories, fight, smoke marijuana, and speak on a variety of subjects. Gradually they open up to each other and reveal their inner secrets (for example, Allison is a compulsive liar and Brian and Claire are ashamed of their virginity). They also discover that they all have strained relationships with their parents and are afraid of making the same mistakes as the adults around them. However, despite these developing friendships, the students are afraid that once the detention is over, they will return to their very different cliques and never speak to each other again.
At the request and consensus of the students, Brian is asked to write the essay Mr. Vernon assigned earlier (the subject of which was to be a synopsis by each student detailing "who you think you are"), which challenges Mr. Vernon and his preconceived judgments about all of them. Brian does so, but instead of writing about the actual topic he writes a very motivating letter that is in essence, the main point of the story. He signs the essay as "The Breakfast Club" and leaves it at the table for Mr. Vernon to read when they leave. There are two versions of this letter, one read at the beginning and one at the end, and they are slightly different; illustrating the change in the student's judgments of one another, and their realization that they truly have things in common.
The beginning letter is as follows:
The end letter is as follows:
The letter is the focal point of the film, as it demonstrates and illustrates the changes the students went through during the course of the day; their attitudes and perspectives have changed and are now completely different. The movie ends as the characters leave detention.
Each of the film's young stars became part of the Brat Pack (whose other members include Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy and Demi Moore), a group of actors who all hit stardom at the same time and tended to star in movies together. John Hughes appeared in an uncredited role as Brian's father. Of the entire cast, only Hall and Ringwald were actually high school age upon the movie's release; Nelson was twenty-six while Sheedy and Estévez were both twenty-one years old.
Judd Nelson’s performance was influenced by his method style technique of staying in character off set. He was accused of bullying Molly Ringwald off camera due to his insistence on remaining in character off-camera. This behavior nearly forced Hughes to fire Nelson, but Nelson was defended by Paul Gleason, his on-screen nemesis, who stated that Nelson was just trying to stay in character and did not mean anything by it.
Ringwald and Hall dated briefly after filming ended.
The school used in the filming of The Breakfast Club was also used for some of the school-based scenes in John Hughes' Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which was released just a year after The Breakfast Club. Some of the posters on the walls during filming of The Breakfast Club were still there when Ferris Bueller was filmed. The giveaway is that the sign on the front of the school reads "Shermer High School" in both films. On the Ferris Bueller's Day Off DVD commentary (featured on the 2004 DVD version) John Hughes reveals that he filmed the two movies back to back to save time and money, and some outtakes of both films feature elements of the film crews working on the other film in each case. Hughes has never disclosed, however, whether Ferris Bueller was implied to be a student at the same school as The Breakfast Club students a year later. In 2005, MTV announced that the film would be rewarded with the Silver Bucket of Excellence Award in honor of its twentieth Anniversary at the MTV Movie Awards. To coincide with the event, MTV attempted to reunite the original cast. Sheedy, Ringwald, and Hall appeared together on stage, with Kapelos in the audience, and Gleason personally gave the award to his former castmates. Estévez could not attend the reunion because of other commitments, and Nelson appeared earlier in the show but left before the on-stage reunion for reasons unknown, prompting Hall to joke that the two were "in Africa with Dave Chappelle." This show was taped on May 28, 2005 and aired on June 9.
John Hughes' first draft of the film was originally scripted out to be a 2-1/2 hour movie. However, many of the scenes were cut out and the negatives destroyed. John Hughes has stated that he has the only complete copy of The Breakfast Club on film. Among the cut scenes from the movie (some filmed, some only written)
In addition, its theme song titled "Don't You (Forget About Me)", performed by Simple Minds, reached #1 on the U.S. Hot 100 in 1985, where it stayed for one week, and has since then become a symbol of teen films. Yellowcard performed a cover of the song during a special tribute to the movie The Breakfast Club at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards. It has also been repeatedly used in several teen films as well as television programs and in a 2008 back to school commercial for the clothing store JC Penney.
The Breakfast Club is referenced many times in television shows created by cartoonist Matt Groening. The phrase "eat my shorts" originates from the film and was later popularized by Bart Simpson of The Simpsons. The character "Bender" in Futurama is named after Judd Nelson's Breakfast Club character, John Bender. An LP record of the film's soundtrack appears in the Futurama episode "The Luck of the Fryrish," and "Don't You (Forget About Me)" is played over the same episode's end credits.
In the Family Guy episode "Let's Go to the Hop," direct and indirect references to the movie are made, i.e. when Peter walks into the cafeteria and sees "The Breakfast Club," which literally is a club of cereal box characters: Tony the Tiger, the Cocoa Puffs cuckoo, the Trix rabbit, Toucan Sam, and the Lucky Charms leprechaun. The final scene in the episode also features the song "Don't You (Forget About Me)."
The Degrassi: The Next Generation episode "Take On Me" follows the exact same premise with five similar characters from their respective cliques––jock/athlete (Jimmy), outcast/goth (Ellie), criminal/bad boy (Sean), princess/girly girl (Hazel), and nerd/brain (Toby).
In the episode of Disney's The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, First Day of High School, while serving detention, Cody asks a fellow male detention inmate on why he was in detention. The male student tells him, He had nothing better to do, a similar reason for Allison Reynolds, gives for being in detention.
Nickelodeon's As Told by Ginger referenced extensively to the movie in the first half of the episode "Detention", Disney's Lizzie McGuire did the same in "She Said, He Said, She Said". The latter one also had references to Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
The promotional poster for the 2008 documentary American Teen has its cast members in the same poses as The Breakfast Club. and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 promotional poster spoofed the "Breakfast Club" poster.
G4TV's X-Play had a retro themed episode where various G4 personalities played out roles from The Breakfast Club (Kevin Pereira as John Bender, etc.). However, the ending letter was revealed to be a suicide note as they all come to be involved in a Suicide pact.
The second episode of the third season of Psych (Murder?... Murder?... Anyone?... Bueller?) had multiple references to The Breakfast Club. Such as Shawn wearing a picture of Judd Nelson instead of his senior picture, him referring to Howie Tolkin and his wife as Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall, and, later on, asking if Tolkin would "have time to tape Larry Lester's buttocks together?"
A JC Penney commercial aired on TV and in theaters beginning in June 2008 pays homage the film. Several scenes are reenacted at a similar library by the commercial's actors, to the tune of a cover of "Don't You" by New Found Glory The commercial shows a shot of the school with the name Shermer High School on the exterior of the building.
Regarding a potential sequel to The Breakfact Club, stated in 2008 that he was against it, saying:
In 2005, however, Emilio Estévez stated that Hughes has an idea for a Breakfast Club 2, with the characters now attending college and "doing time again." Estévez looked forward to the project at the time, saying "If it happens, I'm there." .
Shortly thereafter, however, it was reported that Estévez had dropped out of the project. As a result, "there is no longer a project, but there will be a sequel starring John Hughes himself, playing the high school version of himself in detention, coming up with the idea for the movie. It's less of a sequel and more of a remake/prequel."