The Breakfast Club is a 1985 American teen coming-of-age comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by John Hughes. It stars Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy as teenagers from different high school cliques who spend a Saturday in detention with their authoritarian assistant principal (Paul Gleason).
The film premiered in Los Angeles on February 7, 1985. Universal Pictures released it in cinemas in the United States on February 15, 1985. It received critical acclaim and earned $51.5 million on a $1 million budget. Critics consider it to be one of Hughes’s most memorable and recognizable works. The media referred to the film’s five main actors as members of a group called the “Brat Pack”.
In 2016, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. The film was digitally remastered and was re-screened in 430 theaters in celebration of its 30th anniversary in 2015.
Roger Ebert awarded three stars out of four and called the performances “wonderful”, adding that the film was “more or less predictable” but “doesn’t need earthshaking revelations; it’s about kids who grow willing to talk to one another, and it has a surprisingly good ear for the way they speak.” Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote, “This confessional formula has worked in films as different as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Big Chill, and My Dinner with Andre and it works here too. It works especially well in The Breakfast Club because we keep waiting for the film to break out of its claustrophobic set and give us a typical teenage movie sex-or-violence scene. That doesn’t happen, much to our delight.” Kathleen Carroll from the New York Daily News stated, “Hughes has a wonderful knack for communicating the feelings of teenagers, as well as an obvious rapport with his exceptional cast–who deserve top grades”.
Other reviews were less positive. Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote, “There are some good young actors in The Breakfast Club, though a couple of them have been given unplayable roles”, namely Ally Sheedy and Judd Nelson, adding, “The five young stars would have mixed well even without the fraudulent encounter-group candor towards which The Breakfast Club forces them. Mr. Hughes, having thought up the characters and simply flung them together, should have left well enough alone.” James Harwood of Variety panned the film as a movie that “will probably pass as deeply profound among today’s teenage audience, meaning the youngsters in the film spend most of their time talking to each other instead of dancing, dropping their drawers and throwing food. This, on the other hand, should not suggest they have anything intelligent to say.”
Among retrospective reviews, James Berardinelli wrote in 1998: “Few will argue that The Breakfast Club is a great film, but it has a candor that is unexpected and refreshing in a sea of too-often generic teen-themed films. The material is a little talky (albeit not in a way that will cause anyone to confuse it with something by Éric Rohmer), but it’s hard not to be drawn into the world of these characters.”