Unless you’re a pop culture enthusiast, you probably have no idea who John Hughes is. However, I’d be willing to bet that if you’re older than 25, one of his movies probably rocked your world at some point in time. Renowned for being able to turn a story about nothing into a story about everything, John Hughes is one of the better directors of our age.
His career really started when he wrote the screenplay for National Lampoon’s Vacation – a film that set the standard for comedy in the 80’s. His directorial debut was none other than Sixteen Candles, released in 1984. Sixteen Candles was the first in a string of films that would later be labeled a “brat pack” film; a movie that starred some or all of the 80’s teen actors that were prevalent in those days (Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy and Molly Ringwald). Sixteen Candles opened to rave reviews and the world immediately knew that John Hughes would be one to watch.
Hughes set out to make films that were a more realistic portrayal of growing up and high school life, so his next few films followed Sixteen Candles almost as if they were cut from the same mold. Pretty in Pink, Weird Science, The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off also rolled out between 1984 and 1987, all receiving critical acclaim and taking in high box office sales. Hughes was very aware of how much his version of high school contrasted other high school films of the day (think Porky’s and Ridgemont High), even going so far as to say: “At the time I came along, Hollywood’s idea of teen movies meant there had to be a lot of nudity, usually involving boys in pursuit of sex, and pretty gross overall. Either that or a horror movie. And the last thing Hollywood wanted in their teen movies was teenagers!”
One of my favorite films of all time is The Breakfast Club which effortlessly combines teen angst, touching dramatic scenes and offbeat humor. **I am pretty sure that this movie is singlehandedly responsible for the band Simple Minds making any money at all due to the use of their song “Don’t You Forget About Me” being used at the end of the film. On its own, the song is mediocre at best. Paired with this film, it’s DYNO-MITE!!**
But John Hughes didn’t want to direct coming of age teen comedies his entire career; the late 80’s saw the release of Planes Trains and Automobiles and Uncle Buck, both classics. As far as the box office is concerned, his most successful film to date is Home Alone which was the highest grossing film of 1990.
**Interesting fact: Home Alone stars Macaulay Culkin’s lesser known younger brother, Kieren Culkin. You can see him in small parts of Home Alone 1 and 2 as the smallest sibling who is known for wetting the bed after drinking too much soda. Kieren Culkin proved his acting chops with increasingly larger roles in films such as Father of the Bride 1 and 2 and finally, M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs which, say what you want about that film, Kieren was amazing.**
After directing Curly Sue in 1991, John Hughes decided to retire from directing. He does small appearances here and there but mostly enjoys retirement in Wisconsin.