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    RIP: John Hughes

    I just want to take this moment to thank John Hughes for some of the most indelible movie moments of my childhood. The director died of a heart attack while taking a walk in NYC, where he was visiting family. He was 59.

    While going over his filmography on IMDB, two things really stood out for me. One, he had one of the most unbelievable runs in terms of putting out successful, meaningful coming-of-age films. From 1984 to 1987, he directed Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and Weird Science. In addition to penning all of those scripts, he also wrote Some Kind of Wonderful, Pretty in Pink and European Vacation (all movies which came out during that time frame).

    All of these movies are terrific pieces of entertainment. Sure, they may have been a bit formulaic and pat, and perhaps like other forms of 80s art and fashion, some of them may not have aged particularly well, but they perfectly captured the spirit and essence of growing up in that decade (well, as long as you were white - Hughes freely admitted he couldn't relate to the black experience and barely included any black characters in his work).

    I'm not a big enough movie buff to really discuss what Hughes did technically which was new and different, but I do remember being enchanted by Matthew Broderick speaking to the audience as Ferris Bueller, and the soundtracks to a Hughes movie were always special.

    My favorite Hughes film is probably Ferris Bueller's but it is closely followed by Breakfast Club, which makes me feel the most nostalgic (I still remember watching it for the first time at our house with my brother and his high school friends. I was a bit too young to get it all, but I still loved it, and it has only grown in awesomeness with repeated viewings).

    Just the other day I stumbled on Pretty in Pink on cable and had to watch. That was a fun movie, too, with Ducky certainly rating as one of the most memorable movie characters of all-time.

    Now the other thing that stood out to me from Hughes' IMDB page is how uninspiring his later work became. He directed a couple of fairly decent adult movies - Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Uncle Buck - and wrote Home Alone in the 90s, a pretty good children's flick to be honest.

    But the last movie he directed was Curly Sue, a bomb of a movie that came out in 1991. And some of the other stinkers he has written in the past couple of decades include Dennis the Menace, Flubber, Beethoven and its sequels, the Home Alone sequels, Maid in Manhattan and Drillbit Taylor. To be fair, I haven't seen many of those movies, but I'm very aware that almost all of them were critically reviled.

    But kind of like our Michael Jackson discussion last month, Hughes' later track record is beside the point. His early output was remarkable enough to overshadow any creative dry spell he suffered later in his career.

    RIP, John Hughes.


    Thanks for doing this post (and doing it well), you saved me the trouble of doing a post on him.  I woke up today, read the paper, and just about wept into my coffee when I saw he died.

    Uncle Buck, giant pancakes!  Nuff said.

    I feel sorry for today's youth. What have they got? High School Musical? Mean Girls? There have been three good high school movies since 2000: Juno, Napolean Dynamite, and Donnie Darko. Super Bad and Nick & Noora's Infinite Playlist were so-so. And all these movies are off-beat flicks that don't seem to have been fully embraced by teenage culture.

    But man did we Xers have it good. Not only Hughes' films, but also Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Heathers, Say Anything, Risky Business, Lucas, and Dead Poet's Society. Some other good movies were not classic 80's high school films but were about and appealed to high school students: Back to the Future, Hoosiers, and Dirty Dancing. Heck, even Karate Kid wasn't bad.

    So thank you John Hughes for enriching my youth. Rest in peace.

    A good one that I saw last year was The Wackness.  Good coming of age flick set in 1994 NYC, which lends itself to an awesome soundtrack.  Maybe I just have a soft spot in my heart for early 90s NYC boom-bap, but I spent a lot of time with hip-hop tapes in my walkman while I skated around town in that era.  Ben Kingsley turns in a loose, fun and poignant performance as a psychotherapist who can't get his own shit straight.  Relative newcomer Josh Peck holds his own.

    Loved wackness, rated it on facebook as one of my top 5 coming of age films. tho i probably did that cause i had just seen it. recency bias and all.

    Good point. The Wackness was decent, though the fact that it was set in '94 prohibits it from being a true high school flick, like Back to the Future and Dirty Dancing.

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