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John Hughes: 1950-2009

August 7, 2009 - Andy Gray
I was driving home from Cleveland last night after seeing an advance screening of “Bandslam,” which opens Aug. 14. I decided the biggest flaw in the movie is that Vanessa Hudgens – Gabriella from “High School Musical” – is essentially playing Allison Reynolds, the Ally Sheedy character in “The Breakfast Club.” Throwing a hat on her and telling her not to smile so much wasn’t going to make her believable as a troubled introverted outcast.

That got me thinking about “The Breakfast Club,” so I thought it was ironic when I saw a John Hughes reference in one of my friends’ Facebook status when I got home. Scrolling down, I found a second reference: “OMG. John Hughes died.”

Before his death Thursday from an apparent heart attack, Hughes hadn’t directed a movie himself since 1991 (“Curly Sue”) and – according to the Internet Movie Database -- his only screenwriting credit this decade was 2001’s “Just Visiting,” an adaptation of a French film. Still, Hughes remained more relevant than many busy writer-directors.

Each new group of teenagers rediscovers his movies from the ‘80s, and they have the same effect on their audience 25 years later. When my daughter Anna had to direct a scene for her drama class at Niles McKinley High School, she picked a scene from “The Breakfast Club.”

In promoting “I Love You, Beth Cooper,” Champion native Chris Columbus talked about how instrumental Hughes’ was in his career, and said he set out to make an homage to those Hughes’ classic with “Beth Cooper.”

Hughes’ death is sure to have folks looking for “Breakfast Club” or “Sixteen Candles” or “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” at video stores on moved to the top of their Netflix queues. Don’t forget “Planes, Trains & Automobiles,” which always was one of my favorites. It’s a movie that will make you wish Hughes’ spent some of those later years telling stories about grownups.

ADDITION: I justed added a link to a blog that was mentioned on Pitchfork's Web site from a woman who was Hughes' penpal in the '80s. It's a great read.


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