Saturday, March 19, 2011

What I've Learned About Life from John Hughes

For those of us who grew up in the '80's and '90's, watching John Hughes films was like a rite of passage, and often a constant presence during our formative years. I spent countless hours watching classics like The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and the Thanksgiving epic Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, again and again, never realizing that all the while, important life lessons were being downloaded into my impressionable young mind. Now as an adult and a screenwriter/filmmaker, I’ve since viewed many of these films more critically, finding that not only do they stand the test of time, but that Hughes was walking us through scenarios of living as an outcast, judging others, taking chances, and navigating love triangles, like practice drills for real life situations we would face. In honor of this new-found perspective, and fear that these films are being lost on younger generations, I’ve assembled a list of some of those lessons that I hope I’m not alone in learning from, (even if I didn’t always take the advice).

Everyone thinks they are weird

This theme is almost universal in Hughes films. Regardless of a character’s social status, everyone feels like they’re the odd-man-out, which comes as a welcome consolation to awkward teens, and life-crisising adults trying to remember who they were before their heart died.

Be ready to perform your own dance sequence at a moment's notice
It doesn’t happen often, but should the opportunity arise, take it. Whether on a float, in a record store, or a library, anything worth doing is worth doing in a dance sequence.

Don't [always] judge a book by it's cover
While Jake Ryan plays against popular jock stereotype, and pursues social misfit Samantha, a group of teens sentenced to a day of detention, find out that none of them are what they appear to be. And if they would have had Facebook in those days, they would find out no one is what they appear to be.

Take a day off once and a while, anything could happen
From the Griswold’s vacations to Ferris’ mental health day, in the two ends of the spectrum, we learn that anything can happen when we set time aside for ourselves. A series of the catastrophic failures, each one worse than the next, to the perfect day of taking the city of Chicago by storm, it’s all just a roll of the dice. Or, as it’s been recently proposed, an elaborate fantasy created by the lonely and abused Cameron.

Sometimes the hard way is the easy way
In Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, when everything goes wrong that can go wrong, and Neal exacerbates the string of disasters by being an uptight asshole, but not until the end of the journey when he’s finally free of Del, does he realize the error of his ways, we learn that no journey is complete without a little self-reproaching introspection.

Even if the movie's not about you, you can still steal a couple of scenes anyway
From Long Duk Dong to beyond obnoxious, older brother Chet, we learn that even when we’re mere bystanders in the events of another person’s movie, we can provide comic relief with a couple of well-timed one-liners, and eventually have our images immortalized on nostalgic t-shirts.

No comments:

Post a Comment