Where have you gone, John Hughes? Lonely teens turned their lonely eyes to you. Director John Hughes may have gone into permanent hiding, according to the LA Times, but the voice of the outsider lives on. Hughes was a pioneer. Gone was the alpha male hero. Welcome to the outsider as a mainstream movie hero. “16 candles” still shine.
“The Breakfast Club” was the first age-restricted movie I snuck into. Norwegian authorities had inexplicably given it an age 16 limit, I was 15 or so. And being 15 or so, I felt I could relate to the nerd, the jock, the bad ass. Guess many of us were all in one, with varying tendencies, in various situations.
But the one that made the most impression was “Somekind of Wonderful”. This movie provided an extra level to the outsider theme. Yes, the outsider (Eric Stoltz of no real further fame) got the babe (Lea Thompson, the it girl of 80s mainstream, what happened? No, “Caroline in the City” doesn’t count). But in the process he understood the it wasn’t her, but his best female friend (perfectly incarnated by Mary Stuart Masterson), the equally awkward ill-fated side kick he just never understood he was attracted to.
As a result, I developed a crush on a classmate who was a teen version of Mary Stuart Masterson, who was supposed to look like she was our age, without more success than most actors in teen roles. Unfortunately, although my classmate was as cool and quirky as her movie version, I was no Eric Stoltz. Never happened, alas, first life lesson that reality and film reality often oppose eachother.
Evidence that the theme lives on albeit Hughes’ disappearance: Finally saw “Juno” yesterday. “Yo Yo Yiggady Yo”. The “Somekind of Wonderful” theme all over again. Only better. “Juno” manages to stay away from the teen movie formulas, since the stereotypes, both in characters and plot, remain hints. No good guys opposing bad guys or bad decisions. People being people, not plot pieces (as uncommon in movies as in politics, strangely enough). Difficult, however, to discredit Hughes for being formulistic, given that he was the one who invented the formula. Which may be called The Oscar Wilde Dilemma: the stories are seemingly full of cliches, only because it was from these orginals the copyists stole their cliches.
The first of many highs (the best being the exchange: Juno: ‘Cause you’re, like, the coolest person I’ve ever met, and you don’t even have to try, you know. Bleeker: I try really hard, actually.) was the Barry Louis Polisar song in the opening scene “All I Want is You”. I grew up (living in the States from the age of 5 til 10) listening to his songs. “My Brother Thinks He’s a Banana” etc. These sweet memories always followed me, although he never made into into the mainstream. A favorite among us Learning Channel kids with the overly pedagogic parents. Until now maybe. Just wait til those Moldy Peaches fans start listening in.