Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Deuce and John Hughes

Film director and writer John Hughes died last week. I knew I liked some of his movies, but I didn't realize how many until he passed away. My bad John. John's best movies featured humor above all, but were layered with themes of the importance of family and friends, of courage, of honesty and the power of the individual.

Animal House (writer): Are you kidding me? A genre creating, young man drink/sex/prank/puke fest. Lesson; Fight the Power. Favorite quote; "Food fight!" An American classic. Bluto lives!

Uncle Buck (director): Just one of several collaborations with the genius John Candy. Loser uncle comes to the rescue of brother's family in time of need. Meets resistance from cynical niece, wins her over with caring, tough love and forgiveness. Hilarious and heartbreaking. Lesson; trust family. Favorite quote; "Ever heard of a ritual killing? Hee-hee-hee."

Home Alone (writer): Now a Christmas classic. A young boy is mistakenly left home alone when his family takes a Christmas vacation in Paris. Boy thwarts would be burglars, learns self sufficiency and realizes importance of family, even if they're flawed. Lesson; man up...and allow for imperfections in those you love. Favorite quote; "Keep the change, ya filthy animal."

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (director): Two men try to make it home during a blizzard at Thanksgiving time. John Candy and Steve Martin team up for this hilarious and heartfelt romp through middle America. Bumbling loser Candy and repressed businessman Martin accidentally share a nightmare trip in an epic struggle to get home by the holiday. Lesson; patience, forgiveness and fellowship. Favorite quote; "Those aren't pillows!"

The Breakfast Club (director): Easily the most serious of Hughes' films. Five high school students meet for the first time while serving detention on a Saturday. The jock, the thug, the nerd, the princess and the freak compare notes on what it's like growing up. They hate each other but they band together to fight the 'fascism' of the teacher monitoring their detention. In the end, the barriers of class and stereotype come crashing down as the five unite in teenage angst. Lesson; we're not as different as we seem. Favorite quote; "Eat my shorts!"

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (director): The best of them all. High school senior Ferris takes yet another day off from school, his ninth of the semester, by faking an illness. Left alone at home by his parents he sets out to free his best friend Cameron from his neuroses and inability to stand up to his father by talking Cameron into a a day on the town (Chicago) with Ferris' girlfriend Sloan and transportation provided by Cameron's father's classic Ferrari. Hilarity ensues and lessons are taught by the irrepressible Ferris. Lesson; "...believe in yourself." Favorite quote: "Life moves pretty fast; and ya don't stop and look around once in a while, ya gonna miss it."

Other movies directed or written by Hughes include Weird Science, National Lampoon's Vacation, Pretty In Pink, Sixteen Candles and Only the Lonely.

Hughes' movies made stars of Matthew Broderick, Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy.

Film critics describe Hughes' movies as the soundtrack of teenagers lives in the '80's. Perhaps so. I was well past high school when these movies were released, and I love them all. They're not serious films and none of them have ever won an Oscar, but they all share the most important thing a movie must have in my feel good at the end.

Uncle Buck saves his niece, wins the love and respect of his brother and sister-in-law, finally gets a nine to five job and seals the deal on his girl friend...

Kevin fights off the burglars, reunites his fearsome neighbor to his son and his family, and reestablishes the love and respect of his family...

Neal suffers all the indignities Del can accidentally dish out and still invites Del to share Thanksgiving with him and his family...

Five disparate kids come together to fight a common foe and learn to respect one another...

Ferris wails on Twist and Shout, saves Cameron's mental health and wins over his jealous sister...

You feel good at the end. Is there a better critique?

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