The Breakfast Club is a 1985 American coming of age comedy-drama film written and directed by John Hughes and starring Judd Nelson, Paul Gleason, Anthony Michael Hall, John Kapelos, Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, and Ally Sheedy. The storyline follows five teenagers, each a member of a different high school clique, who spend a Saturday in detention together and come to realize that they are all more than their respective stereotypes, while facing a villainous principal.
Critics consider it one of the greatest high school films, as well as one of Hughes’ most memorable and recognizable works. The media referred to the film’s five main actors as members of a group called the “Brat Pack”.
On March 24, 1984, five students — “criminal” John Bender, “athlete” Andrew Clark, “brain” Brian Johnson, “basket case” Allison Reynolds, and “princess” Claire Standish — report for Saturday morning detention at Shermer High School in the Chicago suburb of Shermer, Illinois. While not complete strangers, each of them comes from a different clique, and they seem to have nothing in common. They gather in the high school library where they are instructed by the assistant principal, Richard Vernon, not to speak, move from their seats, or sleep for a period of eight hours, fifty-four minutes (from 7:06 AM to 4 PM). He assigns a 1,000-word essay to the students in which each must write about who he or she thinks he or she is. He then leaves, returning only occasionally to check on them. Bender, who has a particularly antagonistic relationship with Vernon, disregards the rules and constantly riles the other students, mocking Brian and Andrew and harassing Claire. Allison is initially quiet except for the occasional random outburst.
The students pass the hours by arguing and smoking marijuana that Bender retrieves from his locker. Gradually, they open up to each other and reveal their deepest personal secrets: Allison is a compulsive liar, Andrew hates his overbearing father, John comes from an abusive household, Brian has contemplated suicide due to a bad grade, and Claire is a virgin. They discover that they all have strained relationships with their parents and are afraid of making the same mistakes as the adults around them. However, despite these developing friendships, the students are afraid that once the detention is over, they will return to their very different cliques and never speak to each other again.
Towards the end of the day, the other students ask Brian to write the essay that Vernon assigned earlier. Brian does so, but instead of writing about the assigned topic, he writes a letter objecting to Vernon’s request to describe who they are, stating that the man has already judged who they are (an athlete, basket case, princess, brain, and criminal), and that he will not accept any different accounts from them. Brian signs the essay as “The Breakfast Club” and leaves it at the table for Vernon to read after they leave. Before the students part ways outside the school, Allison and Andrew kiss, as do Claire and John. The movie ends with John Bender raising his fist up in triumph as he leaves for home.
Learn more about the concepts, principles and symbolism behind the subliminals found in this film: