The Brat Pack
is a nickname given to a group of young actors and actresses who frequently appeared together in teen-oriented Coming-of-age films
in the 1980s. The term, a play on the Rat Pack
from the 1950s and 1960s, was first popularized in a 1985 New York magazine
cover story, which described a group of roughly interchangeable, but already highly successful and rich, teen stars. The group has been characterized by the excessive partying of core members such as Rob Lowe
, Judd Nelson
and Emilio Estevez
, while their films have been described as representative of "the socially apathetic, cynical, money-possessed and ideologically barren eighties generation
." The movies made frequent use of adolescent archetypes
, were often set in the suburbs surrounding Chicago
, and focused on white, middle-class teenage angst. The "Brat Pack" moniker, often considered in a pejorative sense, was not known to be used by members of the group.
Appearance in one, or both, of the ensemble casts of John Hughes
' The Breakfast Club
and Joel Schumacher
's St. Elmo's Fire
is often cited as a prerequisite for being a core Brat Pack member. With this criterion, the most commonly cited members include Emilio Estevez
, Anthony Michael Hall
, Rob Lowe
, Andrew McCarthy
, Demi Moore
, Judd Nelson
, Molly Ringwald
and Ally Sheedy
. Conspicuously absent from most lists is Mare Winningham
, the only principal member of either cast who never starred in any other films with any other cast mates.
The initial New York magazine article covered a group of actors much larger than the currently understood meaning of the term "Brat Pack". For example, most of the cast of The Outsiders (including Tom Cruise, C. Thomas Howell, and Ralph Macchio, none of whom starred in any other 1980s movies with any other core Brat Packers) are mentioned, along with Matthew Broderick and Sean Penn. Charlie Sheen is included in several lists more for his family relationship to Brat Pack leader Emilio Estevez and his partying behavior than for his collaborative film work with other members. James Spader and Robert Downey, Jr. have also been considered members and appeared in several films alongside other Brat Packers, most notably together with Andrew McCarthy in Less Than Zero. (Downey was in two films with Anthony Michael Hall - Weird Science and Johnny Be Good.) Other actors who have been linked with the group include Jon Cryer, John Cusack, Kevin Bacon, Jami Gertz, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Kiefer Sutherland. Through frequent collaborative work, actor Harry Dean Stanton, then in his late 50s, became a mentor for the group of young actors.
Beyond the two primary films, the list of movies that are considered "Brat Pack" movies is as fluid as its list of members. While Blum's article credits Taps
, a 1981 sleeper
starring Timothy Hutton
with Cruise and Penn, as the first Brat Pack movie, the list of movies below represents the more traditional filmography, with each movie including at least two core members in starring roles. One notable exclusion is Weird Science
, which starred only one core member, but was directed by John Hughes and is included in a Universal Studios "Brat Pack" box set.
Other 1980s films, many with similar coming-of-age themes, that starred only one core Brat Pack actor with one or more close contributors include:
- WarGames (1983) with Ally Sheedy and Matthew Broderick.
- Bad Boys (1983) with Ally Sheedy and Sean Penn.
- No Small Affair (1984) with Demi Moore and Jon Cryer.
- Weird Science (1985) with Anthony Michael Hall and Robert Downey, Jr.
- Heaven Help Us (1985) with Andrew McCarthy and Mary Stuart Masterson.
- One Crazy Summer (1986) with Demi Moore and John Cusack.
- Youngblood (1986) with Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze.
- The Pick-up Artist (1987) with Molly Ringwald and Robert Downey Jr.
- Less Than Zero (1987) with Andrew McCarthy, Robert Downey Jr., James Spader, and Jami Gertz.
- Mannequin (1987) with Andrew McCarthy and James Spader.
- Johnny Be Good (1988) with Anthony Michael Hall and Robert Downey Jr.
- Young Guns (1988) with Emilio Estevez, Charlie Sheen, and Kiefer Sutherland.
- Kansas (1988) with Andrew McCarthy and Matt Dillon.
- We're No Angels (1989) with Demi Moore and Sean Penn.
- Ghost (1990) with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze.
- Young Guns II (1990) with Emilio Estevez and Kiefer Sutherland.
- Men at Work (1990) with Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen.