- Rated R
- Buy the DVD
Reviewed by David Medsker
The three star rating for The Brat Pack Collection comes from combining the ratings of two classics (“Sixteen Candles,” “Breakfast Club”), one average movie (“Weird Science”), a half-assed CD, and flimsy packaging (a three ring binder that’s about an inch taller than your standard DVD, just to mess with anyone with a media center). We won’t even take into consideration the sheer gall of reissuing something that just came out two years ago. Yes, it’s less expensive than the High School Reunion Collection. But there is no reason that anyone who bought the first box set will need to buy this one. Trust us; the bonus CD doesn’t have anything that owners of the HSR Collection don’t likely have in their CD collections already.
“Sixteen Candles” is this set’s crown jewel. Hughes’ directorial debut is still his finest hour, a whip smart blend of the joy, and excruciating pain, that goes with being a teenager in love. Molly Ringwald was a pitch perfect choice to play Samantha Baker; she’s cute but not stunning. She’s sweet but also emotionally volatile. Likewise, you don’t get much more prototypically freshman than Anthony Michael Hall’s Ted, voice in the thralls of puberty and everything. The funny thing about watching “Sixteen Candles” today is that it carries a PG rating, and yet it contains two (spectacular) nude shots of senior hottie Caroline Mulford in the shower (Caroline is played by Haviland Morris, though the rack belongs to stunt double Pamela Elser); even better, one of Ringwald’s first lines is, “I can’t believe it. They fucking forgot my birthday.” Nudity and the F-bomb in a PG movie. Ah, the old days, when the ratings board actually respected the maturity of its audience.
“The Breakfast Club” is where Hughes dealt with school cliques, pitting five different types against each other in a closed setting. Ringwald and Hall are back for another tour of duty, and her character Claire is more like Caroline Mulford than Sam Baker, popular and well aware of her status. Hall’s Brian, on the other hand, could easily be Ted in a couple years. He’s still unpopular, but being smart helps him cope. The star of the movie, though, is Judd Nelson’s John Bender, the hood with, if not a heart of gold, a more sensitive, and highly vulnerable, nature that sits just beneath his gruff exterior. Sure, Bender is the kind of character that only exists in the movies, and the way that these five characters (Emilio Estevez and Ally Sheedy round out the group, as jock Andrew Clark and outsider Allison Reynolds) interact with each other would never happen in real life. Still, there are scores of brutal truths in what the movie explores, even if the event that brought them together is implausible. Bender’s impression of how his parents talk to him – forever bringing a new meaning to turkey pot pies to an entire generation – is both hilarious and heartbreaking.
This brings us to “Weird Science,” which is included not because it is a worthy companion but rather because it’s the only other Hughes movie that Universal owns. It doesn’t hold a candle to “Sixteen Candles” or “The Breakfast Club;” in fact, it’s really the John Hughes equivalent of a sex comedy like “Porky’s.” Hall is back once again, and he is in full fledged Awkward Teen mode. The plot, which involves Hall and pal Ilan Mitchell-Smith creating their own personal girl of their dreams, borrows themes from both the other two movies in this collection. Hall and Mitchell-Smith have no friends but each other (much like Farmer Ted), while the girlfriends of the villainous jocks (one of which is played by, yuk yuk, Robert Downey Jr.) tire of playing the popularity game much like Michael Schoeffling’s Jake Ryan tired of it in “Sixteen Candles.” In truth, it’s a fairy tale, where the geek gets the girl and all sorts of magic takes place. Bill Paxton does provide some invaluable support as Mitchell-Smith’s older brother Chet, who extorts money and goods from him at every opportunity.
Last, but not least, the Music part of the Movies and Music Collection. It is safe to say that fans of these movies are also fans of the music that is played in these movies, which means that 9 out of 10 already own “True,” “If You Leave,” “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” and “Pretty in Pink” in one form or another. Also, an 8-song CD in this day and age just screams “phoning it in.” Everyone knows that CD’s hold 80 minutes worth of music, and given the efforts that Hughes made to get the hippest, hottest bands into his movies, it would have done this rehashed set a world of good if those responsible for its assembly had put an equal effort into landing some of the songs that appeared during pivotal scenes in their respective movies (Thompson Twins’ “If You Were Here,” the Beatles’ “Twist and Shout,” Wham!’s “Young Guns (Got For It)”).
If someone just wants to own the three movies in The Brat Pack Movies and Music Collection, and doesn’t care about bonus features – of which there are none – then this set will fit the bill. It lists for $40 but you can find it for $28 on the Web, which comes to a little over $9 per movie. However, one can’t look at this set without thinking about why the studio felt the need to release this collection two years on the heels of an identical set. That question can perhaps best be answered by the fact that the DVD’s in this set actually contain ads for the High School Reunion Collection, which, for all intents and purposes, the viewer just bought. Pretty lazy, guys.