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DVD Review: The Breakfast Club – Flashback Edition

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A brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal—five young people seen in the simplest terms of the most convenient definitions at the beginning of The Breakfast Club. During one Saturday detention, though, the characters of John Hughes’s 1985 classic learn that the most convenient definitions are not the most accurate and they have more in common than they could have ever dreamed.

The Breakfast Club: Flashback EditionThe 2008 DVD reissue, The Breakfast Club: Flashback Edition, offers fans the opportunity to relive that day in detention while discovering behind-the-scenes stories of the definitive, transformative high school movie.

Set in the fictional town of Shermer, Illinois, The Breakfast Club is a character study of five high school students from five different cliques who must make it through one detention under the loose supervision of their principal.  During their eight hours and 54 minutes together in the library, though, the group bonds as they begin to let their guards down and learn more about each other.

That relatively simple premise allows the characters to truly shine.  As the audience, we delve so deeply into the students’ many layers that eventually we see ourselves reflected back to us.  This relatability, along with many moments that continue to be imitated across pop culture, has turned a small, quiet film into one of history’s standout youth culture films.

Often called the voice of youth, filmmaker John Hughes served as writer and director on films such as Sixteen Candles (1984), Weird Science (1985), Pretty in Pink (1986), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), Some Kind of Wonderful (1987), Uncle Buck (1989), and many more.  He was particularly known for creating realistic characters that were extensions of both himself and the audience while delivering heartwarming comedy with an emphasis on building lasting bonds.

One of a string of iconic 1980s films, The Breakfast Club appears on several superlative lists, earning spots on The New York Times’ “Best 1000 Movies Ever Made” in 2003, Empire Magazine’s “The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time” in 2008, and the top spot on Entertainment Weekly’s “50 Best High School Movies” in 2006.  This masterpiece in social dramedy deserves its place on each list.  Sweetly funny, painfully heartbreaking, and universally honest, the film draws you in and doesn’t let go until Principal Vernon (Paul Gleason) lets the five students go home.

In addition to a digitally remastered version of the 97-minute film, The Breakfast Club: Flashback Edition includes several new bonus features.  Judd Nelson (John Bender) and Anthony Michael Hall (Brian Ralph Johnson) join DVD features producer Jason Hillhouse for a film commentary component to offer insight into the making of the film.  Hearing the veteran actors talk about their time on the set is like eavesdropping on two close friends flipping through a treasured scrapbook.  Among the many topics discussed, Nelson and Hall share with Hillhouse their favorite moments of the film, stories about working with Hughes, and what it was like to work on location.

A short documentary entitled The Most Convenient Definitions: The Origins of the Brat Pack gives the entire back story of David Blum’s 1985 New York Times article which coined the name “Brat Pack.”  In addition, cast members, journalists, and film historians talk about how the moniker affected their careers and pop culture as a whole.  Though the film pre-dates the label by a few months, it stars five of the Pack’s most prominent members—Nelson, Hall, Ally Sheedy (Allison Reynolds), Emilio Estevez (Andrew Clark), and Molly Ringwald (Claire Standish). 

Nelson, Hall, and Sheedy also appear alongside fellow actor John Kapelos (Carl) in the 12-part documentary Sincerely Yours.  Each part is named after characters or song lyrics from the film’s celebrated theme song, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds.  The actors, along with filmmakers such as Amy Heckerling (Fast Times at Ridgemont High) and screenwriters such as Diablo Cody (Juno), elaborate on every aspect of The Breakfast Club’s cultural impact, from the music to each character’s story and the film’s continuing legacy.

Because The Breakfast Club is universal across several generations, calling it merely a 1980s nostalgia film would be too simplistic.  Rather, you feel nostalgia for your own youth, no matter in what decade you were in high school.  Relatable characters, realistic dialogue, and great performances make this film one of the best coming-of-age stories told on film, and The Breakfast Club: Flashback Edition a worthy addition to any DVD collection.

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