I thought I’d say a few things about John Hughes who died this week. I like to consider myself a movie buff. I’m probably one of the few who can happily say that he is watched and laughed at Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! more than once. I’m one of the guys who stays after the movie’s over and watches the credits. (Although I watch the credits, I don’t memorize the credits. I don’t care who the key grip was.)
I only really knew John Hughes as a director. Now that I’ve done some reading, it looks as though I actually knew his writing just didn’t recognize it. He wrote National Lampoon’s Vacation in 1983. He also wrote Class Reunion in 1982. I was lukewarm on both of these films. He wrote Mr. Mom, also in 1983, which starred Teri Garr and Michael Keaton. I would give this movie a solid B. It is worth a rental.
John Hughes really made his mark on me and Hollywood with a series of films that he did in the mid-to-late ’80s. He managed to portray the good, the bad and the ugly of being a teenager or young college student in movies that were funny and sad. They were heartwarming without being sappy. The Breakfast Club, 16 Candles, Pretty in Pink, Weird Science and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (my personal favorite, a must see for anyone who likes this genre) were simply strokes of genius. The premises of his movies were simple, like The Breakfast Club, in which several teenagers have Saturday detention. How can you make an interesting movie out of that? Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was about a guy who skipped school. Big deal. Yet somehow John Hughes was able to make these ordinary occurrences extraordinary. He found the right combination of actors to make his stories engaging. Somehow the bad guys weren’t all that bad and the good guys weren’t all that good. Everyone was okay. His screenplays were written in such a way that the story unfolded the way teenagers and young adults would have wanted it to unfold and then to end. His movies hit a nerve, not in a bad way but in a good way.
He made the careers of Molly Ringwald, Matthew Broderick, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy. (Remember her?) John Candy actually worked with Hughes in eight films.
Sometime in the early ’90s he stopped directing films and just wrote screenplays. He wrote Dennis the Menace, Flubber, 101 Dalmatians, Home Alone 3 and Home Alone 4, to name a few.
In my opinion, John Hughes told a generation of Americans (who are now between the ages of 35 and 50) that it’s okay to be different and that‘s a great legacy to leave.