comedy, drama, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: June 8th, 2014 Movie – The Breakfast Club

the breakfast club

If ever there was a movie that was synonymous with the 80’s, it is definitely this movie. I mean, you have some of the biggest names from the Brat Pack all in one movie, with high school being the sole focus. The fact that it is a John Hughes movie makes it even that much more of an 80’s icon. I remember seeing this movie on TV years ago as a kid and not really getting much of what was being said. I would then see it again years later in the mid-late 90’s and it seriously resonated with me a lot more. I had recorded a later showing of The Breakfast Club on TV but due to the editing for television, I decided to go buy a VHS copy of the movie and would later upgrade it to DVD. Not hard to say that this is one of my favorite movies from the 80’s, but does it still hold up?

The plot: On Saturday March 24th, 1984, 5 students (Pampered rich girl Claire Standish, champion wrestler Andrew Clark, geeky Brian Johnson, juvenile delinquent John Bender, and shy outcast Allison Reynolds) make their way to Shermer High School in Shermer, Illinois to serve out there detention in Saturday school. Once they all assemble in the library, Assistant Principal Richard Vernon enters and tells them that they will be there until 3 in the afternoon, they will not leave their seats, they are not to talk or sleep, specifically calling out Bender for that. He then hands them all paper and pencils and tells them that he wants them to write a 1,000 word essay describing who they are. Warning them that his office is right across the hall, Vernon leaves the room, leaving the door open so that he can keep an ear out for them acting up, but has soon as he does, Bender starts harassing Andrew and Claire while picking on Brian. When Vernon leaves his office to use the restroom, Bender gets up and disables the door so that it won’t stay open. Andrew, Brian, and Claire all argue with Bender to fix the door but he refuses, just as Vernon returns and sees the door closed. Vernon heads inside and questions them about the door but though he knows Bender did something to it, the others choose not to rat him out. Vernon attempts to prop the door open with a chair and when that doesn’t work, has Andrew help him push a magazine rack in front of it to hold it open but when Bender points out it is a fire hazard, Vernon tells Andrew to put the rack back. Vernon then approaches Bender and asks him where the screw from the door is and when Bender mocks him instead, Vernon gives him another week of Saturday school. Bender continues to taunt and push Vernon, despite Claire telling him to stop, until Vernon gives him 8 more weeks of Saturday school before finally walking back to his office. The 5 kids continue sitting in the library and boredom quickly sets in, causing them to fall asleep until Vernon wakes them to go use the restroom. Returning to the library, Bender starts ripping up a book, while Andrew asks Claire if she is going to go to a party that night. When Claire says it depends on which of her parents says no, Bender asks her which one she likes better. Claire says that she doesn’t think either one of them really cares about her, prompting Allison, who had been silent up to this point, to loudly exclaim “Hah!”, and as everyone stares in shock at Allison, Claire tells her to shut up. Bender continues messing with people, questioning Andrew about his relationship with his parents and teasing Brian about his. After everyone learns Brian’s name, Claire asks Bender what his name is but he asks her for hers and when she tells him, he starts teasing her that it is a “fat girl’s name”. Bender then starts taunting her on if she is a virgin and how far she has gone with a boy. When Andrew tells him to stop, the two get into it briefly, with Andrew putting Bender in a hammerlock and forcing him to the ground. When Andrew lets him up, Bender taunts him by saying he doesn’t want to get into a fight with him because he would kill him, pulling out a switchblade to emphasize his point, and Andrew tells him to leave Claire alone. Later, Vernon tells the kids it’s time for lunch and sends Andrew and Allison to get some sodas for them to drink. As they are walking down the hall, Andrew attempts to start a conversation with Allison and she asks him why he is there, to which Andrew tells her but Allison doesn’t believe him. Back in the library, Bender is continuing to taunt Claire, comparing her to Brian as far as being a virgin. Brian tells Bender he isn’t a virgin, saying he slept with a girl from Canada and then motions to Claire when Bender asks if he did it with anyone locally. When Bender loudly says Claire’s name, she asks what they are talking about and Bender tells her. Claire tells Andrew she is disappointed in him but when he says he didn’t want Bender to pick on him for being a virgin, she tells him she doesn’t think it is a bad thing to be a virgin. After Andrew and Allison return and everyone starts eating their lunch, Bender continues teasing Claire and Brian, eventually deciding to do an impression of how he feels life at Brian’s house is. Andrew laughs at first but seeing the look on Brian’s face, he asks Bender about his own home and Bender fulfills his request, depicting his life as being in an abusive household. Andrew doesn’t believe Bender, prompting Bender to show him a burn mark on his arm, saying that was what he got for spilling paint in the garage, then rages out before climbing up the stairs and sitting with his back to the others, while Claire admonishes Andrew for what he did. When Vernon leaves his office after spilling coffee on himself and his desk, Bender uses the opportunity to go to his locker, followed by the others, and retrieve his stash of pot. As they head back to the library, they see Vernon walking ahead of them and quickly turn around and try to find another way back before Vernon gets there. Andrew and Bender argue over which way to go, with Andrew saying they are done following Bender and convincing Brian and Claire to go with him. Allison and Bender follow as well but when they end up trapped, Bender decides to sacrifice himself, as he didn’t want the others to be punished for simply following him. He shoves his pot down Brian’s pants, then goes running down the halls yelling out, luring Vernon away from the others and after him. Vernon catches up to Bender in the gym and takes him back to the library to gather his things, telling the others that they will have to do without Bender for the rest of the day. Vernon takes Bender into a supply closet and then threatens to beat the crap out of him when Bender gets out of high school, then tries to goad Bender into hitting him so he can go ahead and beat him then and there but Bender doesn’t do anything. After Vernon locks the door and heads to the restroom, Bender climbs through the air ducts back to the library but ends up crashing through the ceiling, shocking the others. When an enraged Vernon enters the library to find out what the noise was, the others choose not to rat out Bender, who is hiding under Claire’s table teasing her. After Vernon leaves, Claire slaps Bender as he comes up from under the table, as he had stuck his head up her skirt while he was under there. Bender then heads over to Brian and asks for his pot, then heads towards the back of the library to smoke it. Andrew tries to talk them out of it but Claire and Brian head back there as well, then Andrew decides to go back as well. After Brian, Andrew, Claire, and Bender all smoke some pot, Claire and Bender are sitting around discussing relationships while Andrew and Brian are joking around. Allison joins Brian and Andrew, where she reveals that she had stolen Brian’s wallet, then dumps out the contents of her bag. When they question why she has so much stuff in her bag, she tells them her home life is unsatisfying and she might run away, then refuses to say any more about it, getting angry when they press her. When Andrew approaches her alone, she yells at him to leave her alone and when he starts to walk off, she chastises him for doing whatever anyone asked him. The two talk some more about their problems and Allison reveals that her parents simply ignore her. Meanwhile, Vernon had gone down to the basement and is going over some of the faculty files when he is confronted by Carl, the janitor. The two end up talking about how the kids treat him and how scared he is for the future and what the kids will be like as adults. Back in the library, the kids are sitting around discussing things, with Andrew telling them that he was there for taping a student’s butt cheeks together while Brian had brought a flare gun to school to kill himself, as he had received a failing grade in shop, but it had gone off in his locker, while Allison, who is shown to be a compulsive liar and a kleptomaniac, says she simply had nothing better to do. As they are talking, Brian asks what will happen to them all on Monday, wondering if they will go back to ignoring each other and staying in their own social circles or if they will acknowledge their burgeoning friendship, and whether they will end up like their parents when they get older. After having some fun for a while, Bender crawls back through the air ducts into the supply closet. In the library, Claire and the others convince Brian to write the essay for all of them, then Claire pulls Allison aside and fixes her hair and applies some make up to her. The changed Allison hesitantly approaches Andrew, who she has developed feelings for and he tells her he likes the change, as he can see her face instead of it being hidden behind all of her hair. Meanwhile, Claire sneaks into the supply closet to talk with Bender, giving him a hickey before she heads back. The kids all leave, with Allison kissing Andrew before they get in their respective parent’s cars, while Claire gives Bender one of her diamond earrings, then they kiss before she leaves. Bender puts the earring in his ear, then leaves the school grounds while inside, Vernon reads the essay that Brian wrote for all of them, which is signed “The Breakfast Club”.

The Breakfast Club was well received by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “The Breakfast Club is a warm, insightful, and very funny look into the inner lives of teenagers.” The movie’s theme song, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” was originally written with the intention of Billy Idol to sing it but he passed on it, though he would eventually cover it as a bonus track on his Greatest Hits CD that was released in 2001. The song would later be pitched to Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders but she also passed, though she suggested they offer it to Simple Minds, which was fronted by her husband at the time. The Breakfast Club was a box office smash hit, earning $51.5 million off of a $1 million budget, and would be selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2016.

Don’t care what anyone thinks, I still love this movie. This is still a great movie and still holds up over the years. The acting was great, with Judd Nelson (Bender), Molly Ringwald (Claire), Emilio Estevez (Andrew), Ally Sheedy (Allison), and Anthony Michael Hall (Brian) all doing fantastic jobs in their roles. All 5 of them seemed to put a lot of realism into their characters, made even more effective as many of their lines were ad-libbed, especially during the scene where they were discussing what they did to end up in Saturday school. I also loved Paul Gleason, as his portrayal of Vernon is probably one of the most iconic roles he had and one of the characters that is most parodied in other movies and different media. The story was great, not going your usual teenage drama that Hughes is known for but taking a little darker, and deeper look into the pressures that high school students face; from school, their parents and home life, and their various social circles. This is part of the reason why this movie still holds up because these issues and pressures still exist in schools today. The drama had a lot of realism to it while the bits of comedy were interspersed well enough to keep it from becoming too dark or depressing. A great movie and one that I will watch any time it comes on TV.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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action, adventure, movie, movie review, sci-fi

October 22nd, 2017 Movie – Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone

spacehunter - adventures in the forbidden zone

If you would like to know about how I came to own today’s movie, there is a simple explanation for that. My friends are enablers, plain and simple. See, a few months ago I was at a friends house and happened to be checking on the status of a delivery from Amazon when I noticed some of the recommended titles that they had listed. I saw this title as something soon to be released and mentioned it to them and they said that it was a movie that should definitely be in my collection. So, knowing how easily influenced I am on such matters, I went ahead and pre-ordered it. Now let’s see if this impulse buy was worth it as I watch today’s movie, Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone.

The plot: Out in space, a cruise liner is passing through a nebula cloud when it is struck by a bolt of lightning. damaging the ship and causing it to be destroyed. Everyone is killed except for three women (Meagan, Nova, and Reena), who manage to make it to an escape pod and head for the nearest habitable world, Terra XI. When the land, they are attacked by the scavenging natives before a group of people called Scavs drive them off and the women are taken on board a train, powered  by giant sails. Elsewhere, a salvage pilot named Wolff hears part of a mayday and has his engineer Chalmers fix the communicator so they can listen to the whole thing, where they learn about the missing women and the 3000 mega-credits reward. Wolff recalls hearing about Terra XI and how a colony was attempted but there was a plague and that one of the survivors had initiated some sort of martial law on the planet. Wolff and Chalmers land on the planet and head out in the Scrambler, a 4-wheel drive vehicle, and set off for the shuttle’s coordinates. When Chalmers notices that the shuttle is moving, they see the train and watch as it comes under attack by another group of people, called Zoners. Wolff has Chalmers stay with the Scrambler while he boards the trains and tries to rescue the women but he is too late as the women are captured by the Zoners and taken away via hang gliders. As he heads back to the Scrambler, the leader of the Scavs accuses Wolff of causing this but one of his people tells him he is mistaken, then speaks to Wolff for a bit but refuses to help him. Wolff returns to the Scrambler to find Chalmers, who was actually an android, has been killed so he initiates her self destruct, which begins melting her skin and circuitry, then drives off. Wolff comes to an old settlement and heads inside to find it abandoned, with nothing but the skeletons of people who died in the plague, when he suddenly hears someone trying to steal the Scrambler. He manages to stop the thief, a Scav girl named Niki, and he kicks her out of the Scrambler but she convinces him that she can help him find the gliders and he allows her to get back him and lead him towards the Zone. Meanwhile, the gliders land in the Zone and the three women are taken to see the Chemist, who uses drugs to pacify them and make them want to serve Overdog. Back in the canyons, Wolff and Niki make camp for the night but when Wolf discovers her in his sleeping bag in the morning, he grabs her and carries her to a nearby pond and forces her to get cleaned up. Suddenly, another vehicle with a large plow on the front shows up and when it tries to run over Wolff, he causes it to wreck and confronts the driver. The driver turns out to be Washington, a former soldier turned sector chief and an old associate of Wolff’s who says he is there for the same reason Wolff is but he crashed his ship. Washington asks about teaming up with Wolff but Niki says he already has a partner and Wolff tosses Washington’s gun into the pond and leaves him there. Wolff and Niki continue travelling and eventually reach the outskirts of the Zone, where they take shelter in an abandoned building but as they go to get some sleep, they find themselves attacked by some large, pig-like humans and are forced to get back in the Scrambler and leave. Meanwhile, the three women are taken to see Overdog, who has become a cyborg, and he demands the Chemist leave them so they can fill his basic needs. Wolff and Niki are traveling through a swamp, with Niki walking ahead to guide the Scrambler through the shallow areas, when Niki is grabbed by a member of an Amazon tribe. Wolff jumps into the water to save her and ends up captured as well but the Amazons run when a strange dragon-like eel appears out of the water. Wolff manages to kill it and free himself and Niki but when the Amazons start to head towards them again, they are forced to abandon the Scrambler and climb out of there. Making their way through the desert, they are about to die of dehydration when Washington appears, having followed their tracks and towed the Scrambler out of the swamp. Washington strikes a bargain with Wolff, giving him and Niki some water and they work together to rescue the women, then Wolff flies them out of there, with them splitting the reward money. When Wolff and Washington start discussing what they might do with their portion of the reward, Niki realizes they aren’t planning on giving her any of it and gets upset with Wolff, who says there was never an agreement that she would be leaving with them after they rescued the women. Washington tries to explain to Niki that Wolff is too much of a loner and offers to be her partner but she brushes him off, and is still angry when Wolff offers to take her to another planet if they succeed in their mission. Two Scavs from the train show up at their camp, intending to head too the Graveyard to kill Overdog when they come under attack by some children who have been mutated by the Chemist. They manage to escape but Washington’s vehicle is damaged and the two Scavs go on ahead to complete their mission. After repairing Washington’s vehicle, they head to the Graveyard and sneak inside to find that Overdog is entertaining his subject by forcing his prisoners to make their way through a deadly maze. They find one of the Scavs being chased by guards and learn that he and his brother had attempted to free the prisoners and use the distraction to kill Overdog but his brother was captured. Seeing the women in a cage behind Overdog, Wolff and Washington decide to use the Scav’s plan and Washington goes with the Scav to free the prisoners while Wolff waits so he can rescue the women. Wolff tells Niki to wait in the Scrambler but she gets bored and sneaks back inside only to be captured by Overdog’s soldiers. Washington frees the prisoners and blows up the slave pens while Wolff manages to rescue the women but Niki is sent into the maze. Wolff sees Niki trapped in the maze and despite Washington’s telling him to just leave her, Wolff tells him he is going down to save her. Wolff manages to help Niki make it through the maze but Overdog grabs her and has the Chemist prepare to transfer her life force into him. Wolff kills the Chemist and makes it inside the chamber, where he fights with Overdog and manages to kill him by electrocuting him with a fallen cable, causing explosions to occur throughout the Graveyard. Washington rescues them and they head back to Wolff’s ship, where they bandage up the two Scavs and the women thank them for their part in rescuing them. Niki gets upset and starts to leave, yelling at Wolff that he didn’t ask if she wanted to go with him and Wolff tells her that he does want her to come with him and the two hug and then leave with Washington and the women.

Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone met with mostly negative results from the critics, holding an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, many felt that it could have been a better movie if it was more original. The movie was deliberately released a week before Star Wars: Episode VI – Return Of The Jedi, in order to cash in on everyone’s anticipation for that movie. Unfortunately, that didn’t quite work as the movie only mad $16.5 million off of a $14.4 million budget.

There were so many similarities to Star Wars in this, it’s hard to believe that this wasn’t some sort of early Asylum mockbuster. That being said, this wasn’t a terrible movie to watch. The acting was ok, with Peter Strauss (Wolff) and Ernie Hudson (Washington) doing a good job in their roles. I was a little surprised with Molly Ringwald’s playing of Niki but this was before she became John Hughes’ go to girl for his movies and she was just getting started in Hollywood. The story was pretty unoriginal and like I said, had a lot, and I mean A LOT, of similarities to Star Wars in this movie. In fact, Ernie Hudson was cast due to them wanting a resemblance to Lando Calrissian. The special effects were pretty weak looking, while Michael Ironside just looked weird as the cyborg Overdog. Good for a few laughs, but there are better sci-fi movies out there.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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