Thursday, August 06, 2009
Don't You Forget About Him
Today was a particularly sad day in the world of entertainment, film maker John Hughes died of a heart attack in New York. To anyone who grew up in the 80's, John Hughes was an unseen name brand on the best mainstream teen entertainment of that era. Before and after his watershed years as the unofficial spokesperson for middle American teenagers, the genre has been packed with pandering junk that either is condescending or childish in its approach to the audience. John Hughes carved a niche by writing and creating teenage characters that rang true with a sympathetic approach to their lives that blended hormone driven angst and humorous fantasy.
While he himself remained invisible to the public eye, Hughes created characters and situations that inspired a generation. Farmer Ted holding up Molly Ringwald's underpants in the Boys bathroom to an awed audience, "You mess with the bull you get the horns", the venomous James Spader in Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller twisting and shouting in a parade are included in a list of indelible movie moments that will live forever or for at least as long as TNT and TBS remain on air. A long line of actors received huge career pushes acting in Hughes films, the whole Brat Pack pretty much came to be because of these movies.
While the film that will probably be remembered as his peak is the detention as group therapy session classic The Breakfast Club (1985), my personal favorite is Some Kind Of Wonderful (1987). Hughes wrote but didn't direct on this one (Howard Deutch did the honors), I liked that the movie centered more on lower middle class characters particularly the friendship between the cute tomboy (Mary Stuart Masterson) and the quiet artist dude (Eric Stoltz). And of course having Lea Thompson in the mix didn't hurt either. The love triangle between the three and the artist dude's drive to prove himself I thought was well played. And that theme song "I Go Crazy" by Flesh For Lulu, I recently found it in a $3.00 bin a few months back and it totally made my day.
The Hughes era also generated a series of great pop music moments, such as the Thompson Twins "If You Were There" at the end of Sixteen Candles, the Oingo Boingo theme song to "Weird Science", Duckie lip syncing to Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness" during Pretty in Pink or of course the Simple Mind's classic, "Don't You Forget About Me". The tying in of music and film wasn't just keeping with the MTV times but creating real emotion by bonding the two.
While Hughes would continue to make hit movies past his teenage film phase like Planes, Trains and Automobiles or Home Alone they didn't have as full a voice to me as those three years between 1984 and 1987. His movies gave humor and hope that the tragic and fantastic teen years of life were survivable and could be fun. So to quote one of his famous movies, I say "When Cameron was in Egypt land...let my Cameron go." And thank you for the memories Mr. Hughes.