It seems like yesterday when I dabbed a little mousse into my mullet, slipped on a pair of parachute pants and strolled down to the local movie theater to see The Breakfast Club, director John Hughes' 1985 ode to teenage angst and alienation.
How unsettling it was, then, to see this Wall Street Journal article about a recent Film Society of Lincoln Center event, at which cast members Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Anthony Michael Hall and Molly Ringwald (Emilio Estevez didn't show) reunited for a panel discussion to honor the movie's 25th anniversary.
Those formerly fresh-faced Brat Pack actors are all in midlife now--Nelson, the oldest, is 51, and sporting what appear to be reading glasses in the group photo. Ringwald has morphed from waifish ingenue to mother of three and self-help book author (her recent book, Getting the Pretty Back: Friendship, Family and Finding the Perfect Lipstick, is about self-actualization after 40).
That brings home one of the odd ironies about The Breakfast Club. The movie that's long been celebrated as one of the seminal examinations of the trials, tribulations and joys of Generation X was directed by a baby boomer, Hughes, who based it on his observations of his neighbors' teenage children in the early 1970s, according to David Kamp's excellent March 2010 article on Hughes in Vanity Fair.
The film featured an ensemble of actors who, like Nelson, either were boomers (Estevez and Sheedy were born in 1962) or on the cusp (Ringwald and Hall in 1968). Though it was set in the mid-1980s, The Breakfast Club always seemed as if it could just as easily have occurred 10 years earlier, during my own high school years. Even "Don't You Forget About Me," the movie's rousing theme song, actually was co-written by a boomer named Keith Forsey (born in 1948) and performed by a Scottish band, Simple Minds, whose core members were born in 1959 and 1960.
The characters--Nelson's volatile, tortured young hoodlum, Bender, and Ringwald's shallow popular girl, Claire--seem frozen in time, trapped in detention hall as surely as the iconic teen of an earlier generation--James Dean's Jim Stark in the 1955 film Rebel Without a Cause--will forever be racing in a stolen car toward the edge of a cliff, in search of a raison d'être.
Director John Hughes, who died suddenly of a heart attack last year at 59, wanted it that way. He always dismissed the idea of making a sequel to The Breakfast Club. As he explained in a 1999 Hartford Courant interview: "I know everybody would love to watch it, but I'm too fond of those characters...there's no excuse that could ever put them in the same room ever again. There isn't anything in their lives after high school relevant to that day." Still, he let slip this intriguing tidbit: "I know what will happen to them. I know them."
Hughes originally intended to give us a hint. According to Susannah Gora's 2010 book, You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes and Their Impact on a Generation, Carl the janitor (played by John Kapelos) performed a rant during filming in which he tells all the teenagers what they'll be doing in the year 2000. The scene, however, was one of many cut before the film's release in theaters.
Kapelos later recalled: "I told Brian (Anthony Michael Hall) that he's gonna be a big stockbroker, die of a heart attack at age 35. Claire's gonna drive a Suburban and be a housewife. John Bender, if and when they let you out of prison..."
Gora recently wrote an entertaining Washington Post essay, in which she imagines fast-forwarding the Breakfast Clubbers to 2010. (Claire, for example, quits the Fashion Institute of Technology to marry a Wall Street mover-and-shaker, have kids and live an opulent life on Park Avenue, until hubby crashes and burns in a short-selling scandal and has an affair with a younger woman. Today, she's back in Shermer, Illinois, as a single mom who "never stopped thinking about Bender and is almost ready to accept his friend request on Facebook.")
I've got my own imagined version of events, in which Bender formed a Guns N' Roses-like metal band in the early 1990s, sold 100 million records worldwide and then spent the next decade in seclusion, compulsively re-mixing the tracks to the would-be masterpiece of an album that he couldn't bring himself to release. (Oh, wait, that's what GN'R's Axl Rose actually did. My bad!) Emilio Estevez's macho jock Andrew Clark would join the WWE, where he would be a cross-dressing villain. Brian Johnson (Hall) would make a fortune as producer of a series of "Co-eds Gone Crazy" videos. Claire would see the error of her materialistic ways and become a Habitat for Humanity volunteer, while compulsive liar Allison (Sheedy) would grow up to star in cable TV miracle diet plan infomercials.
I know, you're probably thinking "I could dream up a better scenario for the The Breakfast Club sequel than that." So why don't you, and post it below? I'd love to read what you've dreamed up.