Friday, August 07, 2009

"I'm gonna get to the bottom of this ASAFP, but first I'd like to butter your muffin"

I grew up in the 1980s. John Hughes movies were part of the fabric of my childhood and early adolescence. Some of the qualities for which they are most fondly remembered - the way they didn't talk down to teenagers, the understanding of the pressures of High School and conformity and clique culture - I wasn't really conscious of. But I could see even then that a film with John Hughes' name on it was liable to be a classier, more enjoyable and rewarding work than one of the many films that tried to imitate his success. I got that he gave great parts to his young casts, and that he had an amazing ear for dialogue. and most importantly that he was funny.

So the more serious films he made were never the ones I loved. Pretty In Pink (1986) (which was directed by Howard Deutch from a Hughes script), 16 Candles (1984), The Breakfast Club (1985) - I liked them, but never the way I liked Weird Science (1985) or Ferris Buellers Day Off (1986). The amazing fact that all these films were made within three years reveals just how influential Hughes was at one point, and how his sensibility and worldview set the tone for the way Hollywood treated teens in a way that persists in the modern teen comedy.

Hughes grew older and after a couple of more "adult" comedies - Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987), which may in fact be his masterpiece, and Shes Having a Baby (1989) - he seemed to regress, and for the rest of his career made and wrote films almost exclusively for children. But I will always remember him for the anarchic geek-triumph moments in Ferris Bueller and Weird Science, probably two of the most quotable and quoted films of the 80s. Weird Science in particular was my favourite, less eager to please than Bueller, with Kelly LeBrock, an Oingo Boingo theme song, Bill Paxton's funniest appearance ever and mutant bikers all part of the bizarre package.

That theme tune:

John Hughes
1950 - 2009

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