Why John Hughes Will Always Matter

By CB Staff 2009-08-07 15:11:31discussion comments
fb share tweet share
Yesterday we lost John Hughes and the world will never be the same again. John Hughes was more than just another Hollywood filmmaker, he was the voice of an entire generation. John Hughes mattered and today as we here at Cinema Blend sit around mourning his loss for us, the only way to really get over it, is to talk about why his movies meant so much to each one of us. It's our way of saying goodbye to someone special, someone whose work became an integral part of all of us, someone who mattered in our lives. John Hughes mattered and here's a few reasons why.


Home Alone Matters To Katey Rich
 In the early 90s, Kevin McAllister may as well have been a member of my family. My sister wore out the VHS tape to shreds, re-watching Home Alone practically on a daily basis for at least a year, while my brother and I teamed up with the neighbors to set up our own robber traps, leaving toy cars at the bottom of the stairs and hosing down the front steps to make ice. (We lived in South Carolina. This never worked.) We loved Home Alone maybe more than the average family, and even today, most of us can recite the lines verbatim. But my sister was the one who loved it most, and when I talked to her today, she thinks she might have figured out why.  "I was so scared of being alone. I freaked out when mom went to the trashcan. Maybe it was the fact that I was terrified of that situation, and he goes through it."

Everyone praises John Hughes for illuminating teenage insecurities in The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink. But with Home Alone he created Kevin McAllister, the Ferris Bueller of kids, the one who could look fear in the eye and come up with an ingenious way to beat it. In our own ways, my brother, sister and I all looked up to Kevin. Our childhood wouldn't have been the same without him.


Planes, Trains, & Automobiles Matters To David Wharton
I came late to the Planes, Trains, and Automobiles party, watching it for the first time two or three years ago. I liked it well-enough from the start, but then something unexpected happened. Neal Page (Steve Martin) and Del Griffith (John Candy) are stuck in one of a series of unpleasant hotel rooms, and Neal finally snaps. He's had enough of this oaf, this parasitical buffoon who has latched onto his life. He yells at Del, calls him out on every flaw, every annoying habit. And then, as a musical sting I'll never forget builds in the background, Del delivers the “I like me” speech, and my jaw is left on the floor.

It's such a raw and honest moment between two flawed characters, a perfect little scene where dialogue, character, and performance merge to elevate the film into something more than it was before. Yet it somehow feels perfectly at home in a movie where one man washes his face with another man's oversized underwear. Without that level of characterization, PT&A still would have been a great, relatable comedy. But by making Del Griffith more than just a punchline, Hughes crafted a true comic gem that I never tire of watching, year after year. At Thanksgiving, naturally.


Sixteen Candles Matters To Tim Gomez
Sixteen Candles did something for me that most movies couldn't. It connected me to people. Released in 1984, I missed its initial release by a year. But like any great film, it transcended its generation. I'm the youngest of three kids; my brother is 13 years older than me, my sister 15 (Unexpected blessing, my mom used to call me. That's one way to put it). Sixteen Candles was theirs. So even though years separated us, late at night, I could grab a spot on the couch and learn to laugh with my sister and brother, watching Anthony Michael Hall gross out Molly Ringwald and Duk Dong fall out of a tree after a night of debauchery.

My sister's guffaw was unmatchable, and I did my best to laugh like her. Sixteen Candles didn't exactly define my high school years. Sure, my friends and I would always hate on the creeper seniors that would try to take the freshman girls that were rightfully ours but never were girls' panties cause for an expedition, at least not literally so, and being the youngest in my family by a long shot, no one ever forgot my birthday. But that didn't matter because it brought me closer together with siblings that were almost old enough to be my parents, two people who I rarely had much else to share with socially. Sam did that. The Geek did that. Hell, I'll even give Jake Ryan some credit. And now my sister gives Sixteen Candles to her daughters, who will give it to theirs. And we can all watch it 10, 20, 30 years down the road, late at night, on TBS, and like nowhere else, laugh together.


Dutch Matters To Kelly West
When choosing from the lengthy list of John Hughes movies, I opted to look passed the more obvious classics and pick one of his smaller but equally fantastic films. Dutch is the perfect blend of humor and heart as we witness the bonding of a spoiled brat and his mother's boyfriend. The film follows Dutch Dooley (Ed O'Neill) as he agrees to drive his girlfriend's rich, bratty 12-year-old son Doyle (Ethan Embry) home from boarding school. During the road trip, Dutch's attempts to bond with the boy naturally blow up in his face as things continue to go wrong on the trip.

This is one of Hughes' smaller films but I don't think it should be forgotten. Whether it's seeing how Dutch manages to get Doyle out of school, witnessing the mishap with the fireworks or the klepto hitchhiking hookers, there's plenty to laugh at. But what stands out to me most is Dutch breaking through to the kid, whose snobbery is just a front for his insecurity. The film is charming and as I can recall watching it more times than I can count growing up, it ranks up there with the best work of Hughes.


The Breakfast Club Matters To Mack Rawden
On paper, The Breakfast Club comes off like the most contrived, clichéd, stupidly optimistic film ever released.  The nerd, the spaz, the jock, the rebel and the princess, swapping stories and spit, affection and screams like drunks at a reunion, but beneath all the pot smoking, sushi and preachy messages about what it means to grow up, there's wisdom in John Hughes' words and direction.  

The unmerciful stain of high school justice brings together a motley crew of dweebs, felons and stoners and without fear of gossip or social repercussion, that undesirable band of hoodlums and outcasts will bond like unlikely cabinmates at Summer camp.   Facades melt away, reputations color and strange people get their fuck on.  It's chaos theory at its most juvenile and unscientific.  John Hughes got this.  And even though his Illinois high schools may have been a little more affluent, populated by a few more beautiful girls--the connections, the laughs, even the pain are as universal as Apple pie, baseball and pissing off the principal for no goddamn reason whatsoever. 


Uncle Buck Matters To Steve West
Movies have a strange power over each of us, and quite often the creators behind them continually connect with us on an emotional level we didn't see coming. Uncle Buck is not one of those revolutionary films. No, the John Candy led movie about a deadbeat uncle tasked with watching his nieces and nephews is quite simply the quintessential comedy. This is why it sits proudly atop the list of greatest comedic films of the 80s.

While my friends were busy praising such classic Hughes films as Breakfast Club or Sixteen Candles I had my eyes on two of the best comedies to come out when I was a young lad. For me there's no choice when Uncle Buck or Dutch are on cable, I have to sit down and watch. Long before Judd Apatow was mixing raunch comedy with heartfelt story we watched as Buck protected his niece by threatening her boyfriend with a ritual killing. And yes, I did make a giant pancake at one point in my life.


Ferris Bueller's Day Off Matters To Josh Tyler
Growing up I was a bookish kid. Introverted and prone to excessive conformity, in my head what an adult said was law. My parents referred to me as a “good kid” but what that really meant is a kid motivated by fear, a kid who always did what he was told, a kid who didn't really think for himself. That changed one afternoon in seventh grade band when, our conductor told us to leave our instruments in our cases so he could take a break, and instead rolled in a television and popped in a VHS tape. While my French Horn laid unplayed in the back of class, in front of me was a movie called Ferris Bueller's Day Off, the story of a kid who didn't let rules get in the way and made it a point to do what he wants.

As I sat there watching I realized I was a Cameron and that being a Cameron was no way to live. Sometimes you have to break a few rules, sometimes the authority figures aren't right. And while I never became the rebellious Bueller every kid who watched Matthew Broderick foil Mr. Rooney dreamed of being, it got me thinking. My parents would eventually come to despise my new I'll take it under advisement approach to life, but it was for the best. Rules aren't everything. Sometimes you have to go your own way or you'll end up being a Cameron. Nobody wants to be a Cameron.


Christmas Vacation Matters To Ed Perkis
John Hughes is the man who reminded us that you can't fully celebrate Christmas if the shitter's full. Hughes wrote and produced Christmas Vacation, which, along with A Christmas Story, is one of the two best Christmas movies made in the last 40 years. A December 25th hasn't passed in years without at least one viewing of a movie that never gets old.

Clark Griswold puts up his entire extended family for a good old fashioned Christmas and absolutely kills with one hilarious set piece after another. Clark's passion for Christmas is really just outsized version of every suburban dad who wants to see his family have a terrific holiday like in the olden days. What farther hasn't wanted to both put an incredible Christmas light display on the roof while taking an annoying cousin out into the woods and leaving him for dead? John Hughes got the modern American Christmas right. For that, I'll never forget him.
discussion
Subscribe To Topics You're Interested In
Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Back to top
RELATED
FROM THE WEB
NEW REVIEWS
FEATURES
TOP MOVIES
HOT TOPICS
TRAILERS