John Hughes Movies: Then and Now

Hi Everybody! Robert will soon be kicking off a new series for us, which I think is brilliant. I’ll let him explain the premise. And be warned: Robert says something, you may not like, about one movie. If you are offended, please send your hate mail to If you don’t get that reference, please check out Episode 2 of the Return to the ’80s Podcast.
Seriously, I am so excited about this series, and I hope you will be too.

John Hughes Films as Viewed as a Teen, then Later, as an Adult

by Robert Mishou

John Hughes. That name resonates deeply with everyone who was in high school on the ’80s. And how could it not? Many of his films, yes, many because, if we are being completely honest, he had a few still stinkers, i. e. Weird Science. But those others, oh, those others are the movies that got us through those incredibly awkward, disappointing, and bewildering adolescent years. Those big teen films (I’ll call them the Big Five) directed by Hughes captured what is was like to be a teen in the 1980s better than anything that previously or subsequently hit the big screen. Let me define the Big Five: Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty in Pink, and Some Kind of Wonderful. I am absolutely positive that you remember them because, not only did you most likely see them in the theater, you watched them – or parts of them- every time you were flipping through the one hundred seven channels available at the tip of your fingers. These films are truly deserving of the moniker “iconic.”

While recently watching one of these classics, I asked myself (yes, out loud) if they still packed the same punch that they did thirty or so years ago. Can the same movie that I loved in 1984, still affect me the same way?

No. They don’t.

Whoa – relax, I’m not here to bash Hughes or criticize these films. The movies are still the same. Samantha’s parents still forget her sixteenth birthday, Mr. Vernon is still an unbelievably cynical jerk, Ferris’ parents are still way too easy to fool, and Duckie still does not get the girl. No, these movies haven’t changed at all.

I have.

My almost forty-seven year old self does not see these movies – or the world, for that matter – the same way I did as a sophomore in high school when I had my first Hughes theatrical experience with Sixteen Candles. I am becoming more and more resigned to accepting this torturous fact – I am not fourteen any more.

So what is different? That is what I am going to examine. Over the next several weeks, I am going to take a fresh look at the Big Five. I will attempt to recall how I felt about them then, while applying my life experiences to form a more contemporary and relevant interpretation. It is not going to be easy and I will most likely have to admit to and accept some hard truths- but I am game.

I will follow the Big Five in order of release, so the first one will be Sixteen Candles. Look for it soon.

6 thoughts on “John Hughes Movies: Then and Now”

  1. I swear, I’ve been planning to write a retrospective about John Hughes’ teen movies of the 80’s on my blog since last month, just haven’t gotten around to it. I should try to get to that soon.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I believe I will. Similar to this fellow, I’m looking back at his film from the perspective of a man in his 40’s now, seeing things I didn’t notice as a lad when first watching those films. But I’m looking at it specifically from the perspective of a Black man. As the biggest thing I notice now, that I didn’t then, is that there weren’t a whole lot of people who looked like me in those movies. And when there were, well, it wasn’t exactly positive. I know even devout Hughes fans will single out Long Duk Dong as a severe mis-step, but that was not the only negative depiction of a Person of Color in Hughes movies. And that tends to color (no pun intended) how I see his work as whole now, even as the nostalgic appeal of many of his film remains. It’s like I have two sides inside of me fighting themselves…

        Speaking of which, Weird Science was a “stinker”?!? Not in my world.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That is so true. For example, The Breakfast Club had all different personalities, yet none of them were a person of color. I can totally empathize with your dilemma. These movies are very nostalgic, however, there isn’t anyone who you could truly relate to in those movies. Oh, and I like Weird Science too. So funny…especially with Bill Paxton hamming it up!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Great idea for a post!

    The only John Hughes movie I love just as much as I ever did (or possibly more) is Planes, Trains & Automobiles. And it’s not a Big Five! 😦 None of those movies I ‘particularly love’, I must admit. Ooh I do love Home Alone, I always forget if that’s him or not, it feels like it should be but didn’t Chris Columbus direct?


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