Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Classic--Sixteen Candles

or: Growing up, John Hughes style.

One word to sum it up: Crude.

I believe that every teenage should watch at least one John Hughes film while they are growing up. Yeah, the material is a little dated because we no longer live in the craziness that was the 1980's, but the themes in his films are still relevant. Sixteen Candles is every inch the film that pretty much sums up a kid in the 80's growing up, but some of things in this film are timeless. It's just a shame that I couldn't really get into this movie because I found it rather ludicrous, to say the least.

Samantha's (Molly Ringwald) life is going downhill fast. The fifteen-year-old has a crush on the most popular boy in school, and the geekiest boy in school has a crush on her. Her sister's getting married, and with all the excitement the rest of her family forgets her birthday! Add all this to a pair of horrendously embarrassing grandparents, a foreign exchange student named Long Duc Dong, and we have the makings of a hilarious journey into young womanhood.

This film is purely John Hughes. I could see all the early developments of this masterful director coming through in this film: the strange humour, the ultra hip and often very loud soundtrack, and the famed look into the mind set of a teenager. However, I felt like this was a little too much, especially considering it was one of his earlier films. It's like David Fincher and Fight Club. While that movie was very good, Fincher often got too ahead of himself, and since then he has honed in his style and consistently makes very elaborate and smooth running movies. Hughes went a little too far with Sixteen Candles and it's humour, but his future films like The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off have better controlled writing, direction and even soundtrack, and are far more enjoyable.

In saying that, Sixteen Candles isn't a bad movie. I couldn't help but feel that this was the real beginning of all the crude teenage comedies we see these days, like Superbad. Instead of making growing up as a teenager the bore and unhappy experience that it often is, Hughes uses his signature style to make fun of it. The best thing about it is that I could relate to the heroine, Samantha Baker, in more ways than one, which is so hard to find in a teenage comedy. Molly Ringwald is a good fit in the lead character: being pretty, but not to pretty; being talented, but not mind blowing. Sixteen Candles has redemption in the great ensemble cast which even includes a young John Cusack. They fill interesting characters that do look and sound like they have come straight out of the corridors of high school. To be perfectly honest, Sixteen Candles isn't particularly memorable, and probably one of John Hughes' lesser films. But it's not a bad way to spend some time watching.

THE VERDICT: John Hughes' talent is evident, but it's like he's trying to shove it in our face. Molly Ringwald and the beginnings of the 'brat pack' offer Sixteen Candles it's chance to be a great film, a place where it never quite gets.


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