GATW remembers John Hughes
After losing John Hughes last Thursday, there was no debate about whether or not us GATWers would write something about the man. We all came of age during Hughes' cinematic reign, and we all wanted to say something about the director/writer/producer who had created some of our favorite films. Ultimately, it just felt right for us to individually crank out some thoughts on our personal favorite of Hughes work - after all, it was easy enough for all of us to instantly pick which films we each wanted to write about. That's the depth and breadth of what Hughes created - none of our picks overlapped, and we all had something to say about our favorites, and a different way to express our thoughts about them. We hope you enjoy and identify with what we've enjoyed and identified with in Hughes' work, and please share your thoughts about Hughes and his films in the comments!
SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL - words by Kate Erbland
I’ve always felt that SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL was generally viewed as second-string John Hughes material. It was, in many ways, the last of its kind – it came after SIXTEEN CANDLES, THE BREAKFAST CLUB, WEIRD SCIENCE, PRETTY IN PINK, and FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF, and just before Hughes’ transition out of the genre (his next was PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES, and he never wrote another high school-based flick after it). It didn’t even star Hughes starlet Molly Ringwald (she declined the role of Amanda Jones). But SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL has always, always been my favorite Hughes film.
If anything, SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL was wish fulfillment for fans who were not pleased with the ending of the previous year’s PRETTY IN PINK. Much like PRETTY IN PINK, SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL worked off a love triangle dynamic (diced up with class issues), but with the sexes reversed. Keith is Andie. Amanda Jones is Blane (“that’s a major appliance, that’s not a name!”). Watts is Duckie. (If we’re really going to get into this, Hardy Jenns is a pretty natural progression from James Spader’s Steff.) And as we all know, Andie was supposed to end up with Duckie, except she didn’t, and every single time I have watched PRETTY IN PINK since learning that fact, I’ve been inconsolably sad at the end. But this is not about PRETTY IN PINK (maybe?), it’s about SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL.
Keith is, by his own admission, a weirdo (“Well, I like art, I work in a gas station, my best friend is a tomboy. These things don’t fly too well in the American high school”). He doesn’t fit in, but it’s always been my mind that he didn’t want to fit in. Keith was keenly aware of the things that made him different, and he rolled with them. His desire to be with Amanda was not based on a misguided wish to be cool – it was based on a misguided wish to save her. When he finally realized that a) Amanda had to save herself, and b) he was the one who really needed to be saved, only then could he realize who was meant to save him.
As a kid, my female role models from film were a bit different. Watts was one of my all-time, top five, major, favorite role models. She played the drums. I blame the fact that I have multiple piercings in both my ears solely on Watts. She was so, so cool – but she was so, so emotional. And she was wise and funny and brave and scared and crazy and wonderful. Watts embodied everything I wanted to be as a girl.
It’s taken me years to like Amanda Jones. In my younger years, I hated her with a passion. I loathed her. Even her big turnaround at the end of SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL did not redeem her for me. She was even more intolerable than Blane. But with every rewatching of SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL, she grows on me. I wonder what Amanda Jones is doing right now. I wonder if she is happy. I hope she is.
Hardy Jenns (“that’s with two Ns”) is one of my all-time favorite high school assholes. Even though he (presumably) gets the shit kicked out of him at the end of SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL, we all know he’s never going to change. Hughes recognized a fundamental truth in his writing – in some way, who we are in high school is who we are in life. Hardy Jenns was an asshole in high school. I can guarantee you, if we met a forty year old Hardy Jenns, he would still be an asshole.
While very few people have ever constructed a first date like the one Keith takes Amanda on, it still rings true. It was a night unlike any other night. It was a night that would become “historical fact,” and it could never be any different. Also, Keith put together some pretty hot plans for Amanda. I can’t even explain to you the confusion I felt when I moved to Los Angeles at age seventeen and almost immediately realized that the Hollywood Bowl was not located behind the Getty Center. John Hughes was even brilliant as an experimental city planner, for goodness sakes!
SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL is also very, very funny. At the very least, it’s given me my favorite pick-up line of, you guessed it, all time: “You know how much damage we could do to each other in an hour?”
But it’s the little moments of SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL that really kill me – Keith’s hand folding into a fist during his first kiss with Watts, Amanda throwing Hardy’s ring back at him in a wild toss, Watts’ silent comparison of her body to Amanda’s in the locker room. Hughes understood keenly the way it felt to be a teenager, the way everything seems so much bigger, how every single day can crack your heart wide open. SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL makes me feel that way – heart wide open.
FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF - words by Adam Reed
“Bueller? Bueller? Bueller…? I remember when my dad sat me down years ago to watch his favorite movie of all time. I was sort of still young at the time, so it was a big deal for me to see anything rated over PG. The rest of my family was gone for some reason or other, so it was just him, me, and the comedy, FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF. He popped in the VHS with a huge smile; looking back, it might have been because he knew he might catch a little hell from my mom for letting me see the movie at such a young age. The moment the film began, I knew my eyes were beholding something special, something sacred, and I was sharing it with my dad.
What can you say about such a classic comedic film? It is filled with so many layers of beauty, heartbreak, and laughter. Beauty in the brilliance of content (got to love the dancing in the streets!). Heartbreak in the moment the convertible plummets to its death. Sacredness in the themes of Cameron learning to stand up to “the old man” and Ferris coming to grips with the looming future.
I cannot count the amount of times my friends and I mocked Ben Stein’s before-mentioned line, driving our parents insane. I remember dreaming of my dream girl who, suspiciously, often took the form of Ferris’ love interest, Sloane. This movie enriched my life. It gave me pointers on how to skip out of the humdrums of life. It gave me pointers on how to come to grips with aging. It brought me closer to my dad, who I have always admired more than any other man.
John Hughes was a great man. He lived his life doing what he loved. His films have brought happiness to more people than anyone could ever know. His films will continue to impact generations to come. My life is better because of the brilliant John Hughes, and I cannot wait to sit on the couch some day, my son by my side, and Ben Stein’s voice echoing throughout the living room, “Bueller. Bueller. Bueller…?”
PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES - words by Rusty Gordon
John Hughes is best known for coming-of-age comedies with real heart, like THE BREAKFAST CLUB, SIXTEEN CANDLES, and FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF. However, while I do enjoy high school Hughes, my favorite films of his are the ones that feature adult protagonists, and take place more in the everyday world, with my all-time favorite Hughes movie being PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES.
Like Adam with FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF, I first saw my top Hughes movie thanks to my dad (or P. Bear #1, if you want to get technical). I’m not sure of my exact age at the time, but it was somewhere in the 8-10 range, and what I am sure of is, both me and my P. Bear loved every second of the movie. The moment that always stands out in my mind from my initial viewing of PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES is how much my Dad enjoyed the part where an incredibly frustrated Steve Martin drops the F-word a lot in a speech to a car rental clerk, which ends with the ambushed clerk, looking Martin straight in the eye and saying, “you’re fucked.” Dad was right for enjoying this scene so, as it is incredibly hilarious, and undoubtedly features one of the best uses of the F-word ever in a movie.
The reason I love PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES so much is because of how consistently funny it is – the film starts strong and never lets up. The film just gets funnier as things continue to go bad for Martin’s straight man, with John Candy’s annoyingly optimistic and hilariously clueless character always there to make things worse, no matter how good his intentions.
For me, Hughes’ two funniest films are PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES and UNCLE BUCK. Two hilarious films where Hughes wasn’t concerned with teenage issues, and just wanted to make us laugh with overmatched adult characters trying to survive whatever comically difficult situation Hughes created for them. While it was very hard for me to pick my favorite between PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES and UNCLE BUCK, in the end the F-bomb scene barely gave PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES the victory, and after writing this post and reliving the greatness of PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES over and over in my mind, I feel very good about my decision.
Source My Soul
UNCLE BUCK - words by Chase Whale
There is only one guy in the history of cinema that could make two films about men doing the unthinkable (i.e. watching over kids and doing everyday house chores) work, and work well. That guy's name was John Hughes, and those two films were MR. MOM and UNCLE BUCK. With UNCLE BUCK starring John Candy, the latter reigns supreme in my heart. Not only did Hughes make successful films about male babysitting, those films also showed men that it's okay to get their hands dirty by doing the dishes and folding laundry.
One thing John Hughes was brilliant at was casting. It's very easy to destroy a film with the wrong actor or actress. Not sure how many people know this (to be honest with you, I read it off IMDb), but Danny DeVito was first considered for the role of UNCLE BUCK. I love Mr. DeVito, and he's great in all his performances, but he just doesn't carry that charm that John Candy brought to the table. John was the guy that could pull off being lovable, intimidating, scary, and funny in the same exact scene. He was the guy I just wanted to bear hug as a child. If he were still alive today, I'd do everything in my power to try to meet him. He was that cool.
I remember seeing UNCLE BUCK for the first time. It was on VHS because I couldn't drive to the theater to see it. To be fair, I was only eight. Anyway, I watched UNCLE BUCK a lot. I mean, A LOT. There's just something so fascinating about a grown man, who you wouldn't want to bring home to the 'rents, who ends up on top and becoming our hero.
Here are some of the things I picked up from UNCLE BUCK:
-I'm not alone when it comes to clogging the toilet. Should I ever venture into plunger-making and getting rich, I owe it all to the Johns.
-John Candy should have opened a breakfast diner. Did you see the size of those damn pancakes?
-Watching John Candy's exit scene with "Wild Thing" playing overhead after verbally destroying a hard-nosed principal's pride is fucking awesome.
To finish, here's my favorite scene from UNCLE BUCK, which is one of the most brilliant scenes of all time. RIP John Candy. RIP John Hughes.
THE BREAKFAST CLUB - words by James Wallace
"...And these children
that you spit on
as they try to change their worlds
are immune to your consultations,
They're quite aware
of what they're going through..."
From the very first frames of THE BREAKFAST CLUB, it makes no illusions or apologies that it is a film for the youth from a filmmaker that understood us maybe better than any other before or since. John Hughes was 35 when he directed THE BREAKFAST CLUB, yet he showed an insight that said in a very 80s-like, yet timeless, fashion "Hey man, I get you." And what makes THE BREAKFAST CLUB really, truly good is that it really does get you. No matter who you are. A brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, a criminal, a fill-in-your-own-self-prescribed-label-here. It lets you know that, while you may be misunderstood or misread by the world, you are not alone. The world is full of loners that come in many colors, shapes, and sizes. As Andrew puts it best, "We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that's all." Hughes showed us this in a way that only he could, in that what separates us on the outside is what really can bring us together in the end. That we are all different and that is what makes us the same. And maybe, just maybe, we aren't all as different as we make ourselves out to be. Sometimes it just takes a closer look, a unique situation, being held against your will for eight hours in detention, a film like THE BREAKFAST CLUB, to help us realize it.
It was one of those movies you grow up knowing the title of but, to be honest, this film was not the window into my discovery of Hughes. As I recall, I was first introduced to the man at a very young age. You may be thinking I'm going to say HOME ALONE, but alas, I am not. That came later. No, it was 1987's PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES, watched one year around Christmas time as part of a family tradition in the Wallace household. And then came FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF and then THE GREAT OUTDOORS, and thus the floodgates were opened for me to the Hughesian world of comedy blended with heart.
It was not until my freshman year of high school that I first saw THE BREAKFAST CLUB, showed to me at a time that could be interpreted as ordainment by God almighty himself for the perfect timing it had in my teen life. As if I had a reservation with the film, in a way that was meant to serve a fate-filled purpose, like a friend that comes along in that perfect moment when you really need someone that understands you. It was my lovely stepmom who gave me the gift that was this film, insisting that we must watch it when she found out I had yet to witness its power and glory. Having been a baby of the 80s, I felt it an obligation to myself to see the classics of my birth generation. And what I saw tapped into me in a way no film had in my then-teen life.
I myself was trying to figure out my place in the world, that world being high school which, at the time, comprised the vast depth of the world I knew. Everything seemed so serious, so life changing/altering, so dramatic. While those "problems" of being "misunderstood" now just seem over-dramatic, at the time, they were the most weighty things I had encountered. I guess if you think of them in that way, that doesn't take away from the importance that they had. After all, you are who you are today because of who you were. High school was part of that, no matter how trivial and juvenile that may seem now.
And that's what I love about THE BREAKFAST CLUB, amongst other things. That it can be dated and nostalgic in its decade, but timeless in its sentiment and message. It can be relevant to one's life in the sense that it reminds you of a more innocent time. Reminds you of a time in your teen years when you wanted to be John Lennon, before you reached the end of college, hit the real world, and forgot a period where you made choices in your life based on how they made you feel and not necessarily what made the most sense. A time where you felt like the outcast and didn't quite know where you fit it, when you were still figuring it all out. Maybe you were an Andrew, a Bender, a Brian, a Claire, or an Allison - or maybe you were somewhere in between. But you were someone and you wanted the world to know it. Maybe you feel like you've finally begun to show the world that now, or maybe not...maybe you are still figuring it all out. But aren't we all? There's always going to be something to figure out. At least we have movies like THE BREAKFAST CLUB and directors like John Hughes to give us perspective in the moment or retrospective as we look back. As we try to figure out how we got from there to here and how we don't want to end up a Vernon or a Carl the Janitor, sitting in the proverbial supply closet of life with the door closed to what we once thought we were going to be.
In the end, I guess we will never really learn what the naked lady says after that bartender supposes she won't be needing a drink but one thing is for sure. We know what John Hughes said to us in our youth. He said that you are not alone, no matter how different you may think you are. And that it doesn't matter how the world sees you or what it thinks of you. It sees you as it wants to see you...in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But that's not how you have to see yourself.
As I now listen to Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me)," all I can help think of is how that song has quickly become redefined in Mr. Hughes' passing. The simple truth is, John will never be forgotten. For the films he gave us, for the happiness and insight he provided, and for the understanding he helped me, and many alike, gain at a time where not many others did. He spoke to us in our language, at a time where we were often spoken down to or written off. And that language will go on forever, helping teenagers for generations to come shout a message to the world to not ignore them, to never forget them, and to fuck off if you don't like it. And to shout it with their fist raised high in the air.
To the man that taught me what the word heartfelt really meant, I say thank you.
I want leave you with this beautiful sentiment from Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene. It's one of my favorites that I've heard about Mr. Hughes in his passing - "Let's do this one more time for Mr. John Hughes, who taught me the only way to kiss a girl is in the rain with a beautiful soundtrack."
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