Daniel Martin over at the Guardian Unlimited is bemoaning the re-hashing of The Breakfast club into a younger, more updated version of itself (doesn’t that happen like every day in Hollywood?) and into a film called Bumped. The fact that the producers of the new film dare to make a Breakfast Club comparison doesn’t bode well with Martin.
After you read, watch the trailer at Fancast.
I cannot decide whether this is wonderful news or terrible news. The seminal high school movie, The Breakfast Club, is going to be remade. Kind of. Ish. Nobody really seems sure.
John Hughes’s 1985 cult classic saw five very different high school kids sent to Saturday detention (the very idea of Saturday detention lent the whole thing an exotic horror vibe). Each represented a different high school clique: a brain, a beauty, a jock, a criminal and a basket case. And after a day of conflict, recriminations, bitterness and bonding, they all learned they had more about them than could be contained by the strictures of their stereotypes. That one day was beautifully self-contained: a bubble in time. You knew that none of the five would ever speak to each other again – Hughes’ screenplay was too real for that, the characters too well drawn and their circumstances too quietly devastating. It launched the careers of plenty of the Brat Pack – Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson and Anthony Michael Hall – and this in spite of the freaky dancing segment in the gym. Quite rightly, Entertainment Weekly named it the best high school movie ever.
Nothing since has ever come close to distilling the psychodrama that is high school, and so, inevitably, it was bound to get remade eventually. But this is just weird. The new movie will be called Bumped and will tell the story of five twentysomething strangers who form an unlikely friendship after their flight is bumped and they get stranded at Chicago O’Hare Airport. A corporate shark, a musician, a flirt… that sort of thing. It has no commercial or creative link to the original. Instead, this “modern reinterpretation” of The Breakfast Club will be produced by Bridget Johnson, scripted by Lizzy Weiss and directed by Anna Mastro.
To be fair, it’s being independently funded, so this isn’t a case of a studio cynically reheating an old franchise. But it does beg the question – why bother? Presumably the Breakfast Club link is being touted to garner commercial interest, but they’re on extremely dodgy ground. With a title so universally adored, Bumped seems doomed to pale by comparison – assuming comparison is even possible. Weiss’s story may use the same framing device, but the set-ups of the two films are wildly different.
High school is a brutal, terrifying place, and the best high school movies use this extreme environment as a setting for adult stories. The Breakfast Club was so moving because these five people knew who each other were but had never spoken and would never speak again. Nothing was really fixed: they just had a moment of understanding, and then life just carried on, as life does. Being stranded at an airport with people you’ve never met and never will again because – er, you eventually catch your flight – has none of that to play with. Which isn’t to say that there isn’t a great story to be told here – but why ruin things by holding it up against one of the all-time greats?
It would maybe be nice to see the original five actors reunited at a high school reunion, in a real-time sequel, if John Hughes, Ringwald, Nelson and the rest were all involved. But Hughes himself ruled that out in 1999: “I thought about it,” he said. “I could do it in prose. I know what will happen to them. I know them. But to do it with real actors… they’d never come back together again. There’s no excuse that could ever put them in the same room ever again. There isn’t anything in their lives after high school relevant to that day.”
Do you think Bumped is a good idea, a daft idea, or just another example of Hollywood’s dearth of ideas? Should you ever mess with the greats, or will you always fail? And, given that there’s been talk, on and off, of a Heathers sequel ever since it was made, what teen classics would you like to see reborn?