Gone to the Movies: The Breakfast Club

gone-to-the-movies

Gone to the Movies is a monthly occasional feature that I do with Becky from A Fool’s Ingenuity. We decided to watch some old favourite romance movies (and some we’ve never seen before) together – and talk about them a bit, kind of like we would with books. You can also check out our previous chat on Romancing the Stone and When Harry Met Sally!

The movie we picked for this issue is The Breakfast Club(IMDb) We picked it because it’s a classic, though not exactly a romance – and because I hadn’t seen it before! It’s also extremely comforting to say that this movie is older than I am. :)

Don’t forget to check out Becky’s post right hereI believe she has seen it before so you’ll get a different perspective for sure.

srcek

I liked The Breakfast Club a lot. It’s a very 80s movie, that goes without saying, and probably wouldn’t work as a blockbuster in the 21st century but I definitely see its claim to popularity. I liked the dynamics of this high school scene, it was very well done, I thought. The introduction of that horrible teacher as the authority figure that unified an otherwise incompatible group of teenagers was really good.

I have to say, though, that this kind of social segregation isn’t familiar to me. I always watch these American high school movies with some bemusement (the same goes for books) because our high schools are run in a very different manner. Of course, there are differences and cliques and all, they’re just more accidental than thematic.

Let me explain: here, you have the jock, the geek, and the beauty queen, for example. The queen would be a cheerleader these days (I don’t remember if she was actually a cheerleader then?). And it’s their extra-curricular activities that determine who they hang out with, right? Who they sit with at lunch?

In Slovenian high schools, the first thing you have is a class that stays together for the entire school day. Apart from separating girls and boys for PE classes, the entire class has the same exact schedule. So there’s no “Hey, aren’t we in English together?” going on. And if people do sports or learn other languages or belong to drama clubs, they do that in their private time after school and these activities are conducted at private establishments/clubs/whatever. So it’s very unlikely, actually, that you’d be in a football team with people from your school.

There’s usually no cafeteria, either – most people go to a nearby supermarket or sandwich shop for their snacks, and people eat lunch at home after school. So there’s no fretting over sitting positions, either. :)

Also, we don’t go to schools according to whichever is closest (we do for primary school): I picked a school in the centre of Ljubljana even though there were at least 7 high schools closer to my home. We pick them according to our grades and our interests (my high school was very, very good + offered great language courses and I went there because I had very good grades). A lot of people commuted from all over Slovenia to get there or they stayed in student housing during the week.

So what I’m trying to say is that you pick who you hang out with at school based on different criteria. My group of friends included my two closest friends from primary school (but we didn’t go to the same classes) + people with, say, a similar taste in music, some people from another school from the other side of the town and even some younger folks. I’m not even sure what kept us together.

srcek

So this detention (oh, right, there’s no detention of this kind, either!) scene is somewhat weird for me. I mean, I’ve seen them in other American high school books/movies, it’s just not something I ever went through as a teenager.

I liked how the characters’ personalities clashed and how they explored their reasons for being the way they are. How their prejudices worked against them, how they would never have even talked if it wasn’t for this Saturday of mandatory boredom.

What I didn’t like (but is probably normal considering the movie is 30 years old) is the fact that the pathological liar receives a beauty makeover and is instantly made attractive to the jock. *sigh* I also thought the plaid-shirt-wearing asshole (sorry, I’m terrible with names) was too extreme at times – I would have punched him on his crooked nose long before he had the chance to say any of those things to me. But hey, what do I know of teenage dynamics in the 80s, right?

It was a good movie to watch, I’m glad I finally decided to see it. It has definite re-watch potential, too – more on which you can find in Becky’s post, so don’t hesitate to head over there for a different point of view! :)

srcek

Have you seen The Breakfast Club? Do you consider it a classic, too? 

What was your high school experience like? 

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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  • Greg Hill

    The differences between American and European high schools sound fascinating, I had no idea the experience was that different there. In some ways I think I like your system better- like most things, I’m sure there’s pros and cons of any approach. As for the movie, I like it although I’m not sure it’s aged well in some ways- like most American teen movies, it’s not REALLY that way, at least IMO. I mean sure the broad strokes are there, the cliquey stuff sure but some of it’s just fanciful. Detention when I was in high school was an hour, not all day on a Saturday lol.

    The best part of the movie for me are some of the great lines, not the realism of it. Kinda like Princess bride, I can quote large parts of this movie lol.

    • Yeah, the differences are significant, but like you said, it’s impossible to say which system works best. It’s fun to watch high school movies and read such books for me, it’s like getting a glimpse into a completely different world.

      Ooh, you got detention? :) Does everyone get detention once in a while or is this reserved for especially loathsome infractions of the school rules?

      And yeah, it’s definitely a very 80s movie. Like I said, this was my first time watching it – I might have enjoyed it more if I was younger, honestly, but I’m still really glad I did, it’s a classic so at least I now know what it’s all about.

      • Greg Hill

        I did get detention lol but it wasn’t quite as fun as Breakfast Club. And I don’t even remember what I got it for, but no not everyone gets it. You have to do something disrespectful or wrong lol. Although thinking back it wasn’t THAT hard to get now that I think about it… so many rules. :) At my school it was an hour after school …

        And yeah BC works better when you’re younger… now it seems quaint or sillier but it’s still fun. :)

        • We got some sort of notes that we had to show our parents if we were really disrespectful – I never got one of those. Or the teacher could send us out of the classroom and give us an “inexcused absence” for that hour – I got some of those. And then if you skipped class as well and racked up enough “inexcused absence” hours, you got a note to take to your parents. What I’m saying is that our parents were responsible for “punishing” us, not the school (I’d be grounded, for example, if I crossed the line too often).

  • Gosh, gosh, gosh! I do love the Breakfast Club :D I haven’t watched it in ages though.

    I had two VERY different experiences in American high schools because for the first three years I attended a fairly large school (It has about 2,000 students). Then, during my senior year of high school, I had moved to a new state, and I attended a smaller school that was half the size of my previous school.

    At the big school, cliques were important. (I actually just wrote a post about this!) I was a geek who hung out with other geeks, and being a geek gave me a pass to hang out with the punk kids or the goth kids. Most of the time, the preppy/athletic kids made fun of us, so we avoided them.

    When I moved and attended the smaller school, cliques were not very important. Smaller school, smaller community. Most of the kids had grown up with or around each other so you would see the spooky kids hanging out with members of the football team. It was so jarring to me, but also kind of more awesome because nobody really rejected you for what you wore or what your extra curricular activities were or what your interests were.

    • Huh, I kind of assumed the clique system was common everywhere but I guess movies and books tend to exaggerate the situation somewhat. I understand why a smaller community would have fewer distinctions between kids, it makes sense. And it’s good that you got to experience both, I guess it gives you more perspective! :)

      My high school had …huh … about a thousand students? And it’s definitely considered one of the largest in Ljubljana. The city has 300k people living in it if this tells you anything. I don’t know, we probably have more smaller schools or something if a thousand students means a big school. But I definitely didn’t know everyone in my year – mostly because we usually only spent time with our own class, like I said, as there was no switching.

  • Wow, what an interesting glimpse into the European educational system! Elementary and secondary education in Canada is, for the most part, pretty similar to American education – except that very few people care about highschool sports here. And those people who do care are kind of considered dude bros, haha. There are cliques that form but they’re less based on which clubs you’re into and more on personality/proximity. Typically, if you have a bunch of classes with someone you’re more likely to befriend them than someone you only know from orchestra/band, for instance.

    The Breakfast Club is the sort of movie that I really enjoy but I know would fall apart completely if I looked too closely at it, you know? I do love Molly Ringwald though, and I have a weakness for the insanity that was 80s era fashion. And the hair! LOL.

    • Well, I’m not sure all European systems work like this. Ours is a bit of an anomaly, since everything is free, including university (up to the PhD level – you have to pay for that one). Every time someone starts talking about scholarships, even for the MA/MSC level, there are very, very vocal student protests, so yeah, I think we’re safe for now. :)

      Nobody cares about sports? How about hockey? ;) (I’m only teasing, I actually have a very passionate hockey fan living under the same roof – A. has decided, a couple of seasons ago, that Red Wings are his team and now follows NHL religiously. I really like hockey, too, it’s the only team sport we ever watched as a family, even though Slovenia’s national sport is football/soccer).

      Yep, I tried not to go into too much detail with this movie, I kept telling myself it’s 30 years old so lots of things have changed (but NOT REALLY, remember The Duff and how Bianca gets a beauty makeover there, too? *sigh*).

      But YES, the fashion and the hair… Hold me. I always cringe when I look at my parents’ photos from the 80s and the 90s – and wonder whether my kids will have a similarly poor opinion of MY fashion choices 30 years from now. :)

  • I love this post because this is all new to you so it’s interesting having a fresh perspective on a film which is 30+ years old. I definitely agree with the entire concept of American high school being strange in comparison to my actual experience of school. I obviously grew up watching a lot of American shows so I know what to expect from school over there but is very different from what the UK school experience is like. Much like my school experience is very different from what yours was like.

    For us you do tend to go to the school which is closest. It’s only a small group of people who will try and go to a school with a good academic reputation where you do tests to get in, but that’s not common. We got sorted into groups with our year and you tended to do the first three years of school with that class and then you were split into sets for the core subjects of maths, english and science where you get spilt by ability. Then, in the last two years of school you do your set GCSEs so then you get split and time tabling is different. We didn’t have the same extreme cliques that seem to occur in US shows. There were the popular group and some small divisions, but it didn’t define you and it wasn’t such a major thing when there was interaction between the groups. It’s strange really. I’m sure it may be exaggerated in the film but who knows.

    I’ glad to see we’ve both picked up on how annoying the makeover scene was. I do think that Bender (I think that’s the rebels name) was a bit too much at times. Watching it back this time I realised how he was a bit ridiculous. And the scene where he was hiding under the desk looking up her skirt! I couldn’t believe that scene at all. I don’t know, some of it ma be the film hasn’t aged will in all ways but what do I know?

    I’ve been trying to think of different film suggestions. Danya mention Clueless but I know you’re feelings on that film. She also mentioned Legally Blonde for a more current film, or Miss Congeniality because I love that film. I was also looking through what films I have or want to watch and we could do a book related one like The DUFF or something. There are a lot of choices really.

    • I think every country has a different high school system, it’s very interesting. It’s like a dozen different social experiments, I wonder if anyone ever made a study and compared the impact of each system on kids.

      Oh my, your high school system sounds complicated… How many years does high school last? For us, it’s now 9 years of primary school (ages 6 to 15) and then 4 years of high school.

      Lol I think I’ve seen Legally Blonde and Miss Congeniality one too many times already! :D How about Animal Attraction for July? It’s the Hugh Jackman film from our list. I think it would be a good summer movie.

      • It would be interesting, I suppose when you look at schooling in Asian countries like Japan and South Korea their commitment to education is extreme! I would love to see the different test scores between countries and what it means. I may have to do some Googling on this.

        And it really isn’t that complex. You have 7 years in primary school (4-11 years) then 5 years in secondary (11-16 years) and in secondary it’s split from year 7 to 9 doing SATs and then in the last two years of school you do GCSEs and depending on how many are in the school you have varying class sizes. Then from 16 to 18 you go to college or sixth form. It’s become compulsory to continue school unless you go into work or apprenticeships now until you’re 18. It’s simple to me but I can see how it could be confusing to others.

        And I love Animal Attraction, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve seen it so it’s a perfect time to rewatch. Also, I love Hugh Jackman. I’ll probably rewatch in the next couple of days since I’ll have some free time. When shall we post or play it by ear and see how it goes?

        • Thanks for explaining this – it’s a bit clearer now. Every country has a different system so it must be really hard if you move, I think. I had a boyfriend in high school who moved from Russia to Slovenia after his first year of high school there and had to repeat that first year here.

          Okay, Animal Attraction it is – I’ll let you know when I watch it and then we’ll decide on a date for the post, okay? I hope to get to it soon. :)

  • This is one of my very favoritest movies (along with most of the rest of the John Hughes collection) from my childhood. I have seen it perhaps 4 dozen times. Seriously. I could still spout quotes though I will spare you and refrain.

    It is SO interesting to get a non-American perspective on it! Your school system so interesting and cool! My high school had cliques and the like but they weren’t nearly as extreme as you get in the John Hughes films. I think he accentuates the differences so that it is that much more impact when it is slowly revealed that everyone, at heart, is the same. We’re all human and have insecurities, and neuroses, and feel trapped sometimes etc… regardless of how superficially different we appear. Sigh…. It ain’t subtle but John Hughes still managed to create movies that were just so darned awesome. His movies were pretty seriously definitive for my generation in the U.S.

    Thanks for your thoughts on the movie and the lessons on your countries pretty awesome sounding educational system! Free through an Masters?!? I just finished paying off my grad school debt after 13 years. It’s also so cool that kids have a choice.

    • Haha, that is some dedication! :) I don’t think I’ve even seen Pride & Prejudice, LOTR or the Harry Potter movies this often. Though I never counted, so the number might be higher than I suspect, oops. Some movies (and books) are just like that, you can watch/read them again and again and they never get old.

      And yeah, I’m sure most movies and books about high school societies are exaggerated, otherwise they wouldn’t have been very interesting! I wonder what I would have thought about this movie if I’d seen it when I was 17 or so. I always ask myself this when I read a particularly powerful YA book, too – would it have shaped me as a person, like so many books and movies did when I read them? That period of life is so important, it’s when you’re shaped as a person, both from inside and from outside.

      And yeah, I know, our education system is pretty rad. No debts. I think Michael Moore is doing a movie about it soon? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5g3Km5kSi7A :) I mean, it’s not all sunny and glittery, the schools and universities are seriously underfunded, but so far, they’re managing. And we only have 2 million people ALTOGETHER in Slovenia, so it’s a much, much smaller system. Not really comparable to something like yours.

  • The Breakfast Club was never one of my favorite movies, but I love reading your review for the comparison of American/Slovenian schools! That’s so weird to me that you got to choose which school you attended. In America if you go to public school, each city or town is divided into districts and you go the school in the district where you live – no alternative option. If you go to private school, than you can choose (and of course you pay for it).

    My high didn’t have cliches like this either, though. I went to a small school (by US standards) so there weren’t enough of us for proper cliques. I hadn’t thought about cliques forming around extra-curricular activities but it makes sense. Because you are with a different group of students in each class, you wouldn’t form as lasting attachments. But if you play a sport or an instrument or are in a club you see those kids every day before or after school for a few hours for practice and then games or performances or competitions. And traveling to away games and stuff. how interesting :)

    • Ha, yeah. We get to pick high schools – some people drive every day from different parts of Slovenia to attend “the best” shcools in the capital. We usually have to go to the closest primary school, but even that’s flexible. It’s just more practical to go somewhere close! My high school was still very close by most standards, it took me 20 minutes by bus or bike to get there. But there were definitely a couple of schools that were closer (one is 3 min on foot from where I lived). :) Private schools in Slovenia are either religious (I don’t know if you have to pay for those) or have special educational programmes like Montessori or Waldorf.

      It took me a while, when I first started reading English YA books, to figure out your school system. This notion “we have Trig together” (and not other subjects) was weird, I didn’t know how it worked. I’ve figured it out since but somehow still think it’s easier to have the entire class have the same schedule. :) I know some of your subjects are then divided according to levels or something, that’s even more confusing! If we were really good students in our classes, we’d get extra assignments to complete or something. :) So yeah, lots of differences! It’s always interesting to see how things are done on the other side of the world.