Sixteen Candles [1984]

Sixteen Candles Molly Ringwald established herself as the teen queen of the '80s in this fresh comedy. The movie is a day in the life of Samantha, whose 16th birthday is turning out to be anything but sweet. All the traumas of teendom come down on one long day, which sees Samantha surrounded by dithery relatives, mooning over a high school hunk, and pursued by a sawed-off Lothario. Sixteen Candles marked the directing debut of John Hughes, and its goofy energy displayed a promising talent with a great ear for high school lingo ... a promise neglected since Hughes became, after Home Alone, a one-man entertainment industry. There are some pretty crass moments (Why the stereotype of the foreign-exchange student from Asia?), but Ringwald's steady appeal smoothes over the rough spots. As the pubescent, self-styled lady-killer, Anthony Michael Hall turns in a hilarious portrait of a young swinger; he and Ringwald would reteam with Hughes for The Breakfast Club, another key teen picture of the decade. --Robert Horton The Breakfast Club John Hughes's popular 1985 teen drama finds a diverse group of high school students--a jock (Emilio Estevez), a metalhead (Judd Nelson), a weirdo (Ally Sheedy), a princess (Molly Ringwald), and a nerd (Anthony Michael Hall)--sharing a Saturday in detention at their high school for one minor infraction or another. Over the course of a day, they talk through the social barriers that ordinarily keep them apart, and new alliances are born, though not without a lot of pain first. Hughes, who wrote and directed, is heavy on dialogue but he also thoughtfully refreshes the look of the film every few minutes with different settings and original viewpoints on action. The movie deals with such fundamentals as the human tendency toward bias and hurting the weak, and because the characters are caught somewhere between childhood and adulthood, it's easy to get emotionally involved in hope for their redemption. Preteen and teenage kids love this film, incidentally. --Tom Keogh Weird Science Yes, that is Bill Paxton as Ilan Mitchell-Smith's militaristic big brother. And that's Robert Downey Jr. as one of the in-crowd jerks who makes nerds Mitchell-Smith and Hall's lives miserable. Fortunately, this is a John Hughes comedy and our smart nerds create the perfect woman, Lisa (Kelly LeBrock), using a computer and voodoo. Lisa is a willing sex toy, has magical powers, and just wants to help the boys get even and meet nice babes. She even cleans up. The fantasy ebullience of Hughes is given full rein here and that's good and bad (mostly good). It's all aimed at a certain kind of hormone-addled, 16-year-old sensibility; but who doesn't have a little bit of that in them? --Keith Simanton

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