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From the brain to the basket case: a look into the evolution of high school movies

(L-R) Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall in Universal Pictures' "The Breakfast Club."
Universal Pictures
(L-R) Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall in Universal Pictures' "The Breakfast Club."

This week, the Criterion Collection released a revamped Blu-ray of John Hughes’ “The Breakfast Club,” a film that has wooed fans for over three decades, and it had us thinking: how have high school films developed over time?

This week, the Criterion Collection released a revamped Blu-ray of John Hughes’ “The Breakfast Club,” a film that has wooed fans for over three decades, and it had us thinking: how have high school films developed over time?  

From “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” to “Sixteen Candles,” Hughes’ affinity for movies about teenagers undeniably set the cinematic tone for not only his peers, but future filmmakers as well. It’s not difficult to find his quintessential, teenage misfit themes in films like “10 Things I Hate About You,” “Superbad,” “Dazed and Confused” and most recently, Greta Gerwig’s 2017 hit “Lady Bird.”

Pre-1980’s movies about high school seemed to convey different tones than their later, Hughes-influenced counterparts. Take “Rebel Without A Cause” and “Carrie,” both sobered, tortured and filled with allegorical meaning and moral-defining characters.  

So has there been a shift in how high school is portrayed? Are some themes more popular now than they were twenty years ago? And what are some of the films that helped relieve your worst teenage blues and pimpled-fuelled angst?

Call us at 866-893-5722.

Guests:

Christy Lemire, film critic for KPCC, RogerEbert.com and co-host of YouTube’s “What the Flick?”; she tweets

Wade Major, film critic for KPCC and CineGods.com

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