As Emma Watson's ''Perks of Being a Wallflower'' arrives, see our honor roll of all-time great high school flicks like ''Sixteen Candles,'' ''Easy A,'' ''Say Anything,'' ''Mean Girls'' -- and our No. 1
We see it as we want to see it in the simplest terms, the most convenient definition: The Breakfast Club is the best high school movie of all time. It may lack the scope of its peers the drinking, the driving, the listless loitering in parking lots as well as any scenes that actually take place during school. But if hell is other people and high school is hell then John Hughes is the genre's Sartre, and this is his No Exit.
The concept is simple: one Saturday detention, five unhappy teens, and their scramble to prove they're each something more than a brain (Anthony Michael Hall), an athlete (Emilio Estevez), a basket case (Ally Sheedy), a princess (Molly Ringwald), and a criminal (Judd Nelson). Following the farcical fluff of Sixteen Candles, the issues Hughes explored sex, drugs, abuse, suicide, the need to belong to something were surprisingly subversive and handled with bracing, R-rated honesty. '''Kids movie' was a derogatory term,'' recalls Nelson, ''and Hughes was definitely not making that.'' Thus, 21 years later, the film still sparks intense debates about the trials of teen life. (Sheedy's goth freak gets a makeover, then gets the guy: well-earned happy ending or antifeminist propaganda? Discuss!)
Never mind the serious sociological stuff. The Breakfast Club rules because watching the group dismantle/ignore the authority of Principal ''Dick'' Vernon (Paul Gleason) is a vicarious thrill at any age. It rules because Simple Minds' ''Don't You Forget About Me'' is a kick-ass theme. Mostly it rules because, as Hall puts it: ''In the end, you learn maybe we're more alike than we realize, and that's kind of cool.'' Leave it to the neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie to get all cheesy. Whitney Pastorek
Image Credit: Universal Pictures