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John Hughes Dies – An Entire Generation of Teen Years Follows

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Part of my childhood died, just died. — Ray Davies, "Come Dancing"

There are a lot of articles being written right this second about John Hughes. For many, he was just a guy who made a ton of money with the Home Alone franchise and disappeared from the film industry even quicker than he jolted it awake with the appearance of his first teen magnum opus, Sixteen Candles. However, if you were born between 1963 and 1967; if you lived in the suburbs; if you were bright and slightly offbeat, it’s not just another semi-celebrity death.

In the Molly Ringwald trilogy (Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink); in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; in my personal quirky favorite Some Kind of Wonderful (the Pretty in Pink rewrite for those who wanted the geek to get the girl … er, guy); hell, even in Weird Science, John Hughes was God. He never made a teen movie as clever and biting as Risky Business or Heathers, but he knew us. He knew how we felt. He knew how we dressed. He knew how we talked. He put us onscreen and told us that things would be alright. He told us that we were the normal ones.

I haven’t watched a Hughes movie in years. I don’t have to. I have all the key ones memorized word for word. I don’t want to contemplate whether the humor in Sixteen Candles was at times infantile. I don't want to think about how cheesy the music and the dancing look now in The Breakfast Club. I don’t want to think about my disappointment that instead of maturing and making movies about the next generation of my life, he discovered Macaulay Culkin, made a fortune, and disappeared. It doesn’t matter where his films rank among the subsequent, infinite reinventions of the past two decades of filmed teen content (and I'm obsessed with nearly all of them).

All I can think of is that someone who understood me, when I perhaps didn’t even understand myself, is gone, and with him and the news of his passing so too are my cherished teen years gone.

Anyone who isn't too stunned to write more than that wasn't there.

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About Brad Laidman

  • Oh man.

    BlogCritics was my first destination online today and so it’s here I’m reading the sad news about John Hughes. Even without mentioning those in your piece, his body of work was legendary both as a writer and/or screenwriter (Mr. Mom, Uncle Buck, Curly Sue, National Lampoon’s European Vacation), producer (Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Uncle Buck, Only the Lonely) and director (She’s Having a Baby and many of those movies already mentioned). His understanding of human behavior allowed him the ability to point out our failures with just the right amounts of pathos and humor. His breadth of work was not only embraced by multi-generations of fans but by those left of center like fellow director/writer Kevin Smith as evident by his recurring characters Jay and Silent Bob in 1999’s Dogma.

    He was probably the first many faceted of his kind the post-boomers could relate to on a regular basis. And his body of work showed that no matter what the age bracket, he will be missed.

  • His work even impressed and spoke to those of us born before ’63!